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:
Great marketing is key to the success of any business. A well-planned marketing strategy can get you noticed, help you attract and retain customers, and generally take your business to the top of its game.
Marketing has always been a specialised skill – but as technology alters our communication channels, it’s becoming even more so. The marketplace is noisy and crowded, and getting a clear message through to potential customers requires expert manipulation of the growing range of marketing avenues.
If you’re running a small to medium enterprise (SME), you’re probably either managing your marketing yourself (possibly with poor to average results), or trying to find room on the payroll for dedicated marketing staff. But there’s a third option here – both cost-effective and results-driven – and that’s to outsource to a specialist marketing agency.
Outsourcing is rapidly gaining momentum with switched-on SME owners because it works brilliantly, it makes great economic sense, and enables you to focus on the core of your business - the stuff you’re good at – while a team of experts take care of telling the world all about it.
So if you’re running a SME, here are the top ten reasons why outsourcing could work for you:
Good planning underpins all successful ventures. Before we head off on holidays or to a suburb we’re unfamiliar with, we plot the route on a map. Good planning prevents us getting lost. Before a team gets out onto the sports field, they devise a strategy, or ‘game plan’. Planning increases their chances of winning. Even a great night out begins with a bit of venue and transport planning – just to maximise the fun to be had.
It’s no different at work: if you’re running a small to medium enterprise, good planning will guide you along the path to success, positive customer engagement and ultimately, profitability.
I recently wrote an article for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network in which I likened a marketing plan to architectural plans drawn up before a house is built. (Read the piece here: http://www.abn.org.au/blog/building-home-building-marketing-plan-common-think/).
Running a business can be stressful, challenging and sometimes downright difficult, and many of us fall into the trap of ‘doing’ rather than ‘planning’. With so many demands on your time, it’s an easy pattern to fall into. But think about what would happen if a builder showed up on site and started building without a plan? Would he start with the foundations or with the four walls? Would the end result be a logically set-out, beautiful home or a mish-mash of disconnected rooms likely to tumble down like a house of cards at any minute? What a waste of money, time and resources that would be.
In the last few days of the trade show marketing and management process prior to the trade show starting, most of the organising should be done. However, here are some of the final things you should be considering in the final lead up to your trade show;
Aside, of course, from the top company and business brands, I find brand strategy and brand management in many businesses is still lacking. In the world of marketing, your brand is the very first and most vital tool in your toolbox. It impacts on every part of your business and should be the first point of call in your marketing plan. I understand that for many businesses they just don’t get around to organising their logo and business branding properly or hesitate to spend the money to have a marketing consultant put in place a proper brand strategy and brand guidelines. However in most cases it is a false economy, poor brand management can impact on your brand awareness and brand identity, marketing and advertising costs, lead generation and sales, and customer retention.