Starting your own business is a scary but exciting time, full of responsibility and pressure, but also thrilling and full of possibilities. Increasing numbers of women are finding their entrepreneurial feet in the world of small business ownership, and the expanding range of opportunities afforded by Internet connectivity is encouraging many more women to follow this path. There are various kinds of small business that you could be involved with, from the modest side hustle to an investor-backed start-up, but they all have one thing in common; the need for a killer marketing strategy.
Why marketing is so important
Marketing tends to bring to mind images of glossy adverts in magazines, lavish TV commercials, and those annoying pop-ups and sidebars on websites. What marketing truly boils down to is communication. It’s how you tell the people who are likely to be interested in your business what it can do for them. Unless you can reach the people who are your potential customers, your business has no future, regardless of how brilliant it is. Marketing is the umbrella term for all the different ways in which you can get your message across to the people who matter, and being able to do that requires insight into who those people are, and the ability to convey your message in such a way as to make them sit up and take notice.
There is no point spending masses of cash on an advertising campaign for your beauty products in a men’s sports magazine. You might get the odd customer that way, but the odds are stacked against you, and it will be a very expensive way to pick up one or two new customers! The first rule of marketing is to know your market and how to place yourself within it. You need to hone in on the places where you will be seen by as many people as possible who fit your customer profile, thus increasing your chances of capturing the attention of the right people.
To find the right outlets for your marketing, you need to have a finely tuned vision of who your ideal customer is. You can create a fictional representation known as an avatar that sums up all the qualities of the people who will want your product or service, and then you can use this to help you choose the most suitable forms of marketing. Your avatar will be of most use if you make it as detailed as possible, covering demographic information, interests, concerns, views, even the kinds of TV shows they like to watch and books they enjoy reading. A customer profile that has this much detail will enable you to focus on placing your marketing campaigns in exactly the right place and craft the kind of call to action that will be irresistible to the real-life versions of your avatar.
Marketing can cost a small fortune if you let it, and there are plenty of salespeople only too eager to tell you how placing ads with their publication or website will bring you all the customers you want and more. What you need to be aware of is that these are marketing campaigns too, and they target new businesses because they know the early days can be a tricky time. There are plenty of vulnerable business newbies who either don’t realize the promises are too good to be true or are willing to take a chance as their own marketing campaigns aren’t getting the results. As long as you have done your research on target markets and created an accurate avatar, you have many opportunities to advertise your business that won’t cost the earth. All you need to do now is get your message right.
Your sales message
This can be a stumbling block if you have no experience in writing copy that sells or creating an effective sales funnel. You’ll find no end of marketing advice online targeting these very issues, and it’s well worth spending time finding out as much as you can about crafting a message that works. There is a definite art to this side of marketing. The previous steps of identifying your target market and creating your avatar are based on logic and science, but finding the right words, images, and messages that will turn observers into paying customers is about more than just science. That’s why advertising copywriters can earn big bucks if they come up with effective campaigns. If you aren’t adept at the skills required for this part of the marketing strategy, you’re better off paying a professional to do it for you because, without the right message, all the money you spend on advertising will be wasted.
As well as information on target markets, avatars, and creating the right message, you’ll also find plenty of information on different ways to market yourself. You’ll find hundreds of ideas, and you can make your own list of the ones that sound like they would work for your business. Broadly speaking they come under the following categories:
- Marketing materials: e.g., business cards, flyers, circulars, promotional products, vouchers. This is a great area to get creative with, for example, designing and producing a custom patch to wear yourself and also use as a free gift. You can discover more about patches and all the other products you can have made or printed by searching specialist websites.
- Digital: your website, social media pages, and getting exposure on other people’s sites and pages. Many of these will be free or low cost and can be a powerful tool in your marketing campaign.
- Local: connecting with the people in your community, which could be key if your business has a local focus, such as a new coffee shop or retail fashion store.
- Word of mouth: good reviews online and personal recommendations from happy customers are highly beneficial to your business, and free as well.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of success with your new venture, take your marketing seriously. Do your research, find out everything you can about what kinds of things work in your niche, and never stop learning.