Run a mini marketing consultation on your business
I’m all for and extremely positive about people being creative and generating new business ideas – it’s a wonderful quality to have ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ and be passionate enough to pursue goals.
However, whilst I don’t want to stifle creativity and enthusiasm – the reality is that starting, promoting and running your own business is seriously hard work – and it takes a certain amount of tears, sweat and determination to get it off the ground and keep it running.
Not many things in life prove easy – and making a business successful is nothing short of extremely difficult. Sadly, it’s not as simple as handing it over into the hands of a marketing agency, who you may not have a budget for, to do the job for you.
Good planning from the outset certainly helps – making sure that you have a viable business proposition, a market to target, some ideas of how you intend to grow and generate sales. It concerns me that start up businesses, that are concerned with forming a company, getting a logo and what they should call themselves – haven’t considered the fundamentals of business planning as their starting point.
There’s a chap I’ve worked with for a number of years – he wrote an excellent Start Up Guide – based on both his experience as a management consultant within an accountancy practice, and as a successful serial entrepreneur in the online arena with The Made Simple Group. Visit www.companiesmadesimple.com to get a copy of their Start Up Guide – I think you can get it for free or for about £1 – and if you can’t find it email me directly and I’ll see what I can do. It’s well worth reading if you are considering starting up.
Also – before you go out spending money with external marketing agencies, when you are small and looking for marketing advice – then consider running a ‘mini marketing consultation’ on yourself.
Ask yourself the following questions:
· What products and services do you offer?
· Is there a market for these products and services?
· Where is that market? (online / offline / international / local / etc)
· What does it look like?
· Do you have competitors?
· What do your competitors do to marketing themselves / sell their products?
· Do you have clear service propositions for everything you provide?
· Have you documented features and benefits?
· Have you got testimonials from happy customers you can use in your materials?
· What’s your USP? (unique selling proposition) what makes you different?
· Who/what is your market for these services.
· What/who is your target audience?
· What are their demographics (what do they look like)
· Where will you find them?
· How do they currently buy?
These type of questions, are ones that many marketing consultants will start with – and so this is an exercise you can do yourself – perhaps with your partner or team members (if you have any of course!).
For more questions – and for a practical step by step guide with exercises to help you complete a Marketing Plan – then you can access this via FREE STUFF in the blog – you’ll also find Top 20 Marketing Tips there too – but some of that may be a bit too far ahead in you are starting out – but it’s worth a look. Again, if you can’t find any of this – email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Most businesses I have worked with haven’t had a Marketing Plan in place – and the reason I am working with them is because they want to start marketing their services effectively.
Marketing planning helps you to identify what it is you want to achieve – it’s a process that helps you weed out what’s important, where you want to spend money and identify what the end goals are. It’s dynamic – but you need to start somewhere. It’s amazing how many people aim for nothing – and hit it with staggering accuracy! So avoid this – plan, have a blueprint to follow – be clear on where you are heading and what you want to achieve.
It may not always work out exactly as you planned – in fact, I’ll bet you anything that it’s way off – but it’s a starting point – providing direction and focus. And once you start learning about marketing – you’ll grow your marketing intelligence, and know what works for you and what doesn’t.
Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.