Marketing is undoubtedly the most important function of any business, and is about much more than just selling a product. Its fairly easy to make a product or be able to provide a service. What isn’t so easy is making potential customers aware that you actually exist.
Based on this it is recommended that you construct a detailed ‘Marketing Plan’ – and stick to it. You will need to be aware of your objectives, be able to identify your specific market, decide exactly how you are going to market your product or service, and most importantly of all work out your ‘Marketing Budget’.
Careful planning is essential when it comes to marketing a product or service. Deciding how to capture your customers through advertising etc should be listed in your marketing plan. It is always good to have a written copy of your marketing plan – just to ensure you haven’t missed anything important. Also should you need to use a bank or building society to provide extra funding, they will want to not only see a copy of your Business Plan but also a copy of your Marketing Plan.
Some things to include in your plan:-
- A description of the product or service you are going to supply
- The features and benefits these have for your customers
- What makes you different from your competition
- Why you think prospective customers will purchase your products or service
You need to aim to satisfy your customers needs by getting your product or service right. With regards to your competitors your product needs to be more appealing than theirs. Think about things like how well does it work, does it look good, is the pricing correct, will it function correctly, what are the features and benefits to prospective customers by using my product or service, will the end user be getting value for money.
In order for your marketing to be successfull you need to ensure that the end user understands both the features and benefits of what you are offering. What is your aftersales service like, is your product or service user friendly, is your lead time in supplying your product or service immediate – or will the end user have to wait for it.
Decide what is going to make your business different, what is going to make you stand out from your competitors. Could it be that you are open at different times from your competitors, do you offer a much more professional after care service, is your product or service of a much higher standard than your competitors, are you able to offer it at a more competitive price.
Remember that market trends change all of the time. Is your product or service something that customers are going to continually need. Is what you are offering going to be able to be easily updated to move with future developments and trends?
Pricing of your product is equally important. You need to be aware of what your customer is prepared to pay for your product or service. This is where your first time market research will pay off. How much are your competitors charging. Are you able to offer the same level of quality as your competitors at a slightly lower cost – but still make a profit?
How is the customer going to be able to purchase your product or service. Are they going to buy from you direct, will they be able only to purchase online, will it be a wholesale/trade only purchase. Remember that your customer will want something that is easily accessible without too much fuss. How are your competitors distributing their product or service. Will you be able to offer a wider range of options?
PROMOTION OF YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE
Promoting your product is all about talking to prospective customers about what you have to offer. In doing this hopefully they will make the decision to purchase what they want through your limited company – and not one of your competitors.
You can promote your product or service in many ways, advertising, mailshot, leaflet drops, exhibitions, telesales, face to face contact etc
There are two types of customer you will need to promote your product to, existing customer and potential customers. Existing customers in order to gain repeat orders and potential customer in order gain extra business.
It would be helpful to know how your customers make their purchasing decisions. Are they based on price, confidence in their current supplier, or something else. Based on this you will be able to promote your product in the most cost effective way for yourselves.
The way you promote your product or service needs to be aimed at providing the important information the end user requires.
For example they will want to know things like:
- Why should I chose your product or service over my competitors?
- How much will it cost me?
- What will your product or service do for me – as opposed to what I get from my competitors?
- Can I trust your promises?
- How do I change from my current supplier?
- What are your lead times on delivery?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- Has your product or service got a unique functionality?
Remember the way you present your promotional activity is very important. Your brand image is one of your key selling points.
REMEMBER If you can discover and satisfy your potential customers needs, by providing them with a product or service that they require you have all the makings of a successful and hopefully profitable business.