Without marketing, finance and innovation, your business is unlikely to succeed or to grow in the fast-moving, fast-changing customer and consumer economy.
Well, it’s subtle but there is a difference.
A customer is a person or business you have a financial transaction with: i.e. the person who buys your product or service.
A consumer is someone who uses you, your product or service. However, they’re not necessarily a customer as they might not have bought your product or service. For example, they might have received it as a gift.
Actually, it’s continuous cycle.
It begins by creating a strong, memorable identity for your business and continues with a sound marketing strategy based on thorough research of your market and potential customers.
With that in place you can then develop marketing materials through which you communicate to your customers and consumers. Everything should be consistent with your identity, from your photographs, videos and website through to your products and services.
The marketing cycle completes with the sale of your product or service, starting again immediately with how you market your business, product and service after the sale.
Getting the right name for your business is essential from the word go. The name needs to clearly state what you do, and what products and services you offer, to attract your target market.
Your business name must work offline and online, and be memorable for your target market.
Your business identity should be built on customer and consumer insights. It determines how your target audience will perceive and remember you.
Many business owners often ask me why people don’t understand what they do. It’s usually because they have confusing identities or messages that don’t target customers, and no clear marketing strategy.
Your logo is an important element of your identity: together with the name, it brings your business to commercial life. A strap-line or tag-line can be used to reinforce messaging.
Your logo should communicate your business ethos, be distinctive, memorable, and work across all media. And it has to do all this in a way that consumers will understand. So, it’s worth investing time and funds in getting it right.
Creating and developing a strong identity isn’t easy, particularly if this is your first experience of setting up a business. Even if you’ve been trading for some years, you could find it difficult to develop your identity because you’re too close to the business. Problems occur too when businesses re-position themselves. Without careful thought and strategy they can cause confusion to existing customers.
You also need to know how to brief designers otherwise you run the risk of ending up with a confusing identity that doesn’t target your audience. Please see “How do I brief designers?”
Marketing budgets are often wasted because they aren’t well targeted and therefore don’t bring in clients. It’s essential to have a good marketing strategy in place and to continually evaluate how the budget is divided between all the different tasks. With a clear plan in place, it’s easy to reallocate funds depending on what’s working best for you.
A marketing strategy is an important document and it should form part of your overall business plan. An essential for start-ups and established businesses alike, it’s a great way to spot gaps and opportunities for new target markets, products and services.
You can share your marketing plan with your bank and accountant, and use the content for your marketing materials.
There could be a variety of reasons including the content, technical build, search engine optimisation, lack of inbound links or no call to action.
Maybe you don’t update it regularly. Or perhaps it’s simply not visually appealing or aspirational enough to engage visitors.
Take a look at my Website Review and Strategy service.
First of all you need to find a designer that’s right for you and your business. Ask an independent marketing expert for recommendations, take a look at marketing material you like and find out who designed it. Then get several quotes and make sure the designers you speak to really get what you do.
Make sure you have firm objectives about what your business needs from a website or other marketing material before you brief your chosen designer. Be very clear about the following:
- Why do you want it?
- What job do you need it to do for you?
- Who are you targeting? What type of people are they and what are their interests?
Give your designer some background on your business, your customers and the competition.
Set a clear timeframe for the project. This should include a date for the first draft as well as your deadline.
Avoid nasty surprises at invoice time by securing a quote for the maximum time the project will take. Anything over this will need to be renegotiated – that applies to both parties.
Social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, are powerful marketing tools that increase your network and your business reach. They’re also a great way to keep an eye on your clients, your competition, and on your own business reputation.
Social media content pleases the search engines and supports your website ranking. It also gives your existing and potential customers useful information.
One or more channels may work for your business. However, you need a clear strategy and content to make sure you’re seen and heard.
Email Alison with your top 3 burning marketing questions and she will respond with 3 marketing solutions for you.
I had no idea how to market myself when I set up my business. Alison Davey gave me her time, her advice and her experience, not just when I first consulted her but thereafter whenever I needed her help. As a sole trader, I felt supported and gained confidence in the business of both marketing and networking. I would recommend anyone starting up their own business to consult Alison - she'll get you off to a flying start.
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