A solid marketing plan is pivotal to the success of any new business, but it can be difficult to know where to start or how to prioritize. The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to understand the needs and wants of your consumers, and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival businesses. Here are some steps to help you market a new business.
Typically, the types of entrepreneurship are broken into four categories:
You have a plan to start a new business, but is it viable? Viability is a term that refers to long-term survival and profitability. A viable business, simply put, has more revenue coming in than it has costs. This requires not just having enough assets on hand for daily operations but also to weather the inevitable ups and downs. It also requires paying attention, ongoingly, to your business’s finances through regular analyses of your spending against your goals. Financial software can help. To determine whether a new business concept is viable, ask:
Business differentiation refers to how you distinguish your offering(s) from others providing similar services so that you can compete in the market and grab market share. How can you set your company apart from the competition? A great business differentiation strategy demonstrates that your product or service can do everything the competing choices can do BUT with an additional benefit that only you can offer. Business differentiation points might be price (low or high), location and service (national vs. regional vs. local), brand image, quality/durability of product, or speed of deliverables.
When creating a marketing strategy for a new business, you should consider the foundational “marketing mix” of the four Ps.
Brand messaging is the way your business communicates its unique value and personality through its verbal and nonverbal messaging. Your brand messaging and design should align with your business’s overall proposition and tone, and should inspire and motivate your prospects to invest in your product. Consider the different emotions the brands “Sony,” “Samsung,” and “LG” evoke in you. Do you prefer one over the other? Is it because of your preferred brand’s “personality?”
Brand aesthetic refers to the visual appearance of your content. People pay attention to aesthetics, so yours should capture the tone, mood, style, and overall personality of your brand. The business logo—and how it uses color, scale, balance, shape, pattern, and movement— is one piece of your brand aesthetic and signals to consumers what they can expect from you. For example, is your business playful or serious? Creative or business-y?
Public Relations (PR) plays a major role in any well-crafted integrated marketing strategy. Businesses use PR to augment credibility and establish a voice. A solid PR strategy might not directly lead to new business, however it elevates the brand platform, and, when the time comes, makes buying/ hiring an easy choice.
When creating a PR strategy, you need to ask:
It is important to establish an annual advertising budget. A general rule-of-thumb is to plan on spending 2-5% of your gross revenue on total marketing. Working backwards from an overall budget allows savvy marketers to effectively allocate budget on integrated spends, including digital advertising and “pay to play” opportunities. As you ramp up your new venture, marketing activities are more of a start-up cost, and you’ll need to spend quite a bit on initial fixed costs, such as a website, a brand book, and infrastructure.
Next, you’ll need a solid understanding of what your clients and prospective clients are reading (or watching). So whether it’s B2B trade publications or mainstream local or regional media, you want to be where they are. In addition to the old standbys of television, radio, and print, there are many opportunities for technology-based advertising, including websites, email marketing, display ads, and social media ads. Of course, outdoor advertising, radio direct mail, product placement, and event marketing are also possibilities. Decide what media you’ll be using for maximum impact with your particular target audience and make sure your advertising messages align not only with your overall strategy, but integrate with each other across all channels.
Social media is a great place to connect and engage with prospects and have them build comfort and familiarity with your brand. Social platforms encourage networking, building community, and engaging one-on-one via messaging and commenting. Also, content housed on social media is highly shareable in a way that other forms of advertising are not. But perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it provides a funnel to the content on your website. The result is more traffic on your blog posts, and visitors to the site having a chance to learn about your services, read testimonials, etc.
Every social media platform is different, so use whichever best fits your business. YouTube is video-based and great for tutorials, while Instagram is very visual. Twitter is ideal for short blurbs and polls. Again, make a strategic decision to be where your prospects are, and be consistent across platforms so the brand is easily recognizable. The logo, images, and brand voice should all be in the same style.
Determine the “voice” of your social media posts and keep it consistent. Are you strictly business or light or edgy? Are you whimsical and funny or more straightforward and to-the-point? This will depend in part on what kind of business you have. But no matter what, post frequently to make sure people see your content and that it’s optimized in the feed. Create a social media calendar to plan out what you’re posting and when; tools like Hootsuite or Buffer let you schedule and automate posts. All your social media posts should include a call to action, which is a prompt that encourages visitors to take some desired action such as sign up, subscribe, read more, share on social media, buy now.
Finally, monitor your posts to see whether they’re resonating with your audience. You’ll want to track metrics like clicks, engagement, and conversions (when a person performs a desired action). This way you can continually tweak your content based on actual data.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, SEO refers to the process of continuously improving your website to increase its visibility when someone searches for products or services related to your business on Google and other search engines. If you sell vintage dresses in your online shop and someone searches for “vintage dresses,” you want your business to rank at the top of the results page.
Organic search refers to results that come up when you type a question or search term into Google and are served up a list of links. These links appear in a certain order based on the quality and content of the page. Likewise, traffic that comes to your site from people finding your links in this way is considered “organic traffic.” Increasing your site’s organic traffic by ranking high in Google search results takes time and persistence to achieve, but is widely considered the most valuable kind of traffic. In comparison, paid search allows businesses to pay for one of those top spots in search results. We’ve all seen those little “ad” labels affixed to the links at the top of a search results page, and in fact we’re so accustomed to it that we might not even notice that these are paid placements.
Keyword research is a fundamental practice in Search Engine Optimization. It is the process by which you find popular search terms that people are typing into search engines; then you include those terms strategically in your site pages so that your content appears higher on a search engine results page (SERP). Keyword research can be used effectively to help you ideate around a new piece of content you’re writing, decide how to name your product features, or optimize your website or web pages after they are published.
SEO software and plugins are widely used to help people improve the organic ranking of their websites in search engine results pages without paying the search engine provider for placement. Yoast, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console are some popular ones. Some of these tools help by adjusting meta descriptions, others provide ongoing optimizations including reports and site audits, and others help you select effective keywords and then optimize your content for those keywords.
If you plan to outsource the building of your website, make sure you use a company or team that does both design and development; these two components go hand in hand. If you plan to DIY your site, choose a website builder. From Wix to WordPress to Squarespace to Weebly, there are many great services that offer templates and simple drag and drop interfaces that can actually look quite sophisticated. Sign up for a plan that suits your needs and budget, taking note that the free versions often hold back several features. Consider your business’s unique needs. For example, do you need e-commerce? How graphics-heavy will the site be?
Your website is usually the first impression that someone has of your brand, so it should represent your business in a way that’s in line with your brand identity. The site should be compelling, clean, concise, and must clearly communicate who you are and what you have to offer. The content should be substantive and well-written. Needless to say, typos should be avoided at all costs; even a simple site should be polished and highly professional so that potential customers have high confidence in your competence.
Don’t let your customers leave your website without taking action! By employing calls to action (CTAs) on your site, you provide clear instructions to the visitor that prompt them to take some kind of action. Think of a call to action as a signpost. It might be a button that says subscribe to our newsletter or call us now or learn more. A call to action is an important item on any webpage because it motivates visitors into deeper engagement with your brand. For example, if someone clicks follow us on Twitter, you’re not only growing your social media following, but you also gain a new platform on which you can engage with this prospect. A call to action can boost conversion rates, grow email subscribers, and encourage people to purchase your product or service. It also lets a prospect learn more about your business and share your content via email and/ or social.
You can build the prettiest website in the world, but if it’s not mobile-friendly (responsive), it will reflect poorly on your brand’s identity. A mobile-friendly website is designed to work the exact same way across devices so that users will not be inconvenienced or frustrated with their experience and instead will be able to focus on the substance of your fabulous content.
Remember, the process of marketing your new business is just that — a process, and one that will inevitably involve some trial and error. Marketing success doesn’t happen overnight, but steady attention to each of these components will yield dividends over time. If you’d like help in developing a strategy for marketing a new business, reach out to us, we’d be happy to support you.