OK, you’ve decided to go for it. You’ve got a business idea, you’ve written a business plan, you’re going to form a company and you’re going to make it big.
So far, so good.
Unfortunately, many small businesses start out with a great business plan but with very little detailed information about how they intend to bring in customers. ‘Getting a website’ or ‘advertising’ aren’t great answers – there’s no detail.
In short, knowing the size of your market is pretty irrelevant if you have no plan of how to approach it.
That said, you don’t need to have all the answers – but you do need to know the right questions to ask.
TEN MARKETING QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK
1. Why would someone buy from me? – Every business has something that makes it unique. It can be the product, the service, the location or even the owner. If there’s no unique reason someone would buy from your business, then they’ll probably stick with what they’re doing already. You need to find what’s unique about you and make it central to your business.
2. Who are my most likely customers and what do they really want? – You can’t market to everyone – it’s too expensive for one thing. You need to prioritise your possible customers and focus your efforts on attracting them. So, with your answer from the first question in hand, you need to decide who’s most likely to respond to whatever it is that makes you unique. Once you know who they are, you can start learning a bit more about them.
3. What marketing message should I use? Now you know who you are, and who your customers are, your message becomes “I can give you what you want” – you’ll want a better way of putting it though – and ways to prove it.
4. Is my message consistent? Does everything about your business create the same impression and deliver the same message? Does it all appeal to your most likely customer?
5. Do I have a strong central offer? Your offer is simply a way of saying, ‘try us and this is what we will do for you’. To make it compelling you should ask, ‘what can I do that will make choosing me as simple as possible?’
6. HOW CAN I GET MY MESSAGE AND OFFER TO MY MOST LIKELY CUSTOMERS?
That’s all marketing is, so you’ll need a list of possible methods to accomplish it.
7. WHAT MARKETING METHODS ARE LIKELY TO BE COST-EFFECTIVE?
The key here is cost-effective, not cheap. A cost-effective marketing method will allow you to communicate your message and offer to your most likely customer. It will also give you definite return on your investment within an acceptable period of time, i.e. if you spend £100 on an ad you want more than £100 in new business from it.
Use your list of all the methods you could use and score them against these 3 criteria – message, right target customers and getting your money back in a reasonable amount of time.
8. IS MY MARKETING WORKING?
Once you have started marketing, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. To do that you’ll need ways of tracking the results.
9. WHY WOULD SOMEONE REFER OR TALK ABOUT MY BUSINESS?
People do things for a reason. Figure out why people would talk about and refer your business and then give them more reasons to do it. You can also find reasons why they wouldn’t – and ways to remove those obstacles.
10. HOW DO I GET EVEN MORE CUSTOMERS?
There are only ever two answers to this question. You can either keep doing the same – but more of it – in which case you need to know why your existing customers use you and make sure there are plenty more customers like them out there.
Or, you can do something different, in which case you need to repeat some of the questions from above and find new ways to be unique and new likely customers to speak to.