As a start-up SME, you’ve got a lot to think about: from financing and insurance to sourcing equipment and finding a premises. But you also need to prioritise marketing, because without it, you’ll be missing the key ingredient: customers.
At this early stage of the game, when your cash flow is likely to be limited, it’s important to first focus on knowing your target market (Target Persona) and building brand awareness with them. Invest what you can in developing a strong brand and getting a bulletproof strategic marketing plan in place. Then leverage as much ‘free’ marketing as you can – online and with some good old-fashioned networking.
So if you’re starting up a new business, here’s a checklist of marketing essentials to add to your to-do list:
1. Create a brand
Good branding has a powerful effect on consumers’ purchasing decisions. That’s because your brand says everything about you, but it also says something about the customer who uses your product or service. Think about your perceptions of Toyota compared to Holden, for example. That’s branding.
So before you do anything else, think about what you want your business or brand to stand for, then develop a logo and style guide that define the ‘look’ of your business and communicate your brand personality. Also write, or have written, an elevator pitch and business description that clearly articulate who you are and what you do. Branding forms the foundation of all your future marketing efforts, so investing in professional help now will save money down the track.
2. Write a plan
Next on your to-do list – a marketing plan. This is absolutely crucial to your success going forward – particularly when funds are restricted. A good plan will define your goals and keep your marketing targeted, on track and on budget. If you haven’t the time, or don’t know where to start, enlist an agency like Blaze Marketing to help. For more detailed information on writing a marketing plan, read my Marketing Insights blog, ‘No plan at all or a plan to succeed’.
3. Take action
Okay, so you’ve got your plan and you know where you’re headed. Now you need to make it happen. I advise my clients draw up a three-month marketing priority program or roadmap, breaking down each marketing activity into bite-size, actionable components to be implemented weekly and monthly. Separated into single tasks, your marketing becomes more do-able. Assign ownership of each task to ensure everything is actioned to keep driving your marketing forward.
4. Get online
Let’s face it, if you’re not online these days your business will probably fall into the marketing abyss. We live in a digital age and all aspects of business – from research to enquiry to purchase – are increasingly conducted online. A well-designed, SEO-optimised website is like your shopfront and you simply shouldn’t go into business without one.
Put the powers of the internet to work: actively engage your target market with regular social media updates; blog frequently and become a purveyor of knowledge. And don’t overlook the power of online advertising such as Google Paid Searches or LinkedIn/Facebook ads – these campaigns are effective, economical, most importantly, measurable. So www-what are you waiting for?
5. Be visible
Exploit every opportunity to get your name and number out there in front of the buying public: find ways to get your logo into the street, write blog posts or funny tweets that people will want to like and share, join industry associations, attend events and work your elevator pitch. Tell the world you’re open for business.
Above all, remember that when it comes to marketing, persistence pays. As a small start-up, you can’t compare yourself to a big company that employs a full-time marketing team. Monitor your campaigns, but align the results with the amount invested. Most importantly, know your target market, stick with it: stay focused, and the momentum will build.
Blaze Marketing creates tailored marketing solutions for SMEs. If you’re starting up a new business and want to know more, call us on 02 8005 4000 or visit https://blazemarketing.com.au