Launching a business is an exciting time for a hopeful entrepreneur. You have meetings to plan, research to do, and numbers to crunch. While turning your passion into your paycheck is nothing short of the American Dream, the process of getting your business off the ground may also be stressful and confusing for those without proper knowledge of how to develop a marketing strategy. Following these 10 marketing must-haves when starting a business will drive you in the right direction toward executive success.
1) A Website
We’re living in a world gone digital. In fact, studies show 70%-80% of people conduct online research on a company before ever stepping foot in their store or calling their office. In order for potential customers to find your business, they’ll probably need to find your website first.
A website alone will not acquire customers and drive sales but will give you an excellent platform on which to communicate with the public. Carefully deciding what is on your website is one of the first steps to starting a business. What products or services does your business offer? How do you want these concepts to be featured on your site? Remember, this will likely be the customer’s first encounter with your product line. Simple navigation, original graphics, and informative content all make for an impressive website to help your business make a lasting impression.
In addition to design and content, optimizing your website for mobile devices is crucial to ensuring potential customers can find you. Almost 60% of internet searches are conducted on mobile, and 40% of people decide to leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Translating your effective and aesthetic website into a comprehensive mobile format is the key to attracting new site visitors and guaranteeing they get the most out of your website.
Optimizing your website for mobile devices is crucial to ensuring potential customers can find you.Click to tweet
2) A Content Strategy
Now that you’ve created a quality website, it is time to decide what exactly you want to communicate to the public, and how often. Your content should be relevant to the industry your business is in, and provide valuable information to potential customers. A tech company may publish a blog about the top 5 antivirus software programs of the year. A landscaper might post an infographic to Instagram on the first day of summer. What will your customers want to see?
Following a content calendar is a great way to remain organized and consistent throughout your marketing campaign. Content calendars are helpful tools to use when planning articles to publish, deciding when to post to social media, and determining appropriate dates and times for these actions. It will also help you remain on a consistent posting and publishing schedule. Providing customers with regular, quality content is an essential component of establishing brand loyalty. Stay relevant!
Providing customers with regular, quality content is an essential component of establishing brand loyalty.Click to tweet
3) A Company Voice
As a new business owner, you’ll surely have a lot to say. There will be new product launches to announce, emails between staff and clients, blog posts, and plenty of other points of communication. Establishing a clear and recognizable company voice is essential to the branding process. It gives your business a personality and gives the public a peek inside your company culture. For example, Disney brands itself with happiness and magic. From your confirmation email after booking your vacation to the employee greetings in the park, each interaction you have with Disney is meant to be happy and positive. This is a purposeful motive of the Disney brand, intending to create a lasting impression and recognizable branding.
It is important to remain consistent with your company voice. It should resonate with your client base, and help customers relate to you. Your company voice is a way to be recognized and remembered, and it is one of the few aspects of your business that you have complete control over. How do you want to be perceived?
4) Media Exposure
Your website is top-notch and filled with captivating content. Your company voice shines through every post. What do you need now? Publicity. A great company will know no success if it does not build brand awareness. Although holding press conferences and writing in the sky are not realistic on the list of marketing must-haves for most businesses, there are some manageable ways to achieve media exposure right off the bat.
Inviting a guest blogger to write a piece for your site is an effective way to create backlinks to your company website. A makeup artist beginning her own freelance business may ask beauty influencer, Michelle Phan, to contribute an article to her website. Michelle would likely post the link of the piece on the new makeup artist’s site to her own website, giving the entrepreneur a valuable backlink. Google loves this, which in turn will give your website a boost in search engine optimization. This also creates credibility.
Another way to gain media exposure is to submit your own advice and knowledge to reporters who are seeking quotes from industry experts for their own research and articles. HARO is a website that connects industry leaders with journalists, giving business owners publicity, and giving journalists the credible information they need. The best part? It’s completely free!
5) A Social Media Presence
It isn’t just millennials. 54% of the world’s population uses social media, and having a strong digital presence will do wonders for your business. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – “the big three” – are all essential channels for you as an entrepreneur to connect with potential customers. The average person spends almost 2 hours each day scrolling through their average of 5 social media accounts. By posting a photo on Instagram or blasting a quick tweet, your business will be under the nose of your target audience in seconds.
The key to gaining a social media following is posting regular, entertaining content, while still remaining informational. Much like developing a content strategy and establishing a company voice, knowing what your customers will and will not engage with will help you decide what to post in order to maintain successful and effective social media accounts. Knowing which hashtags to include will also help drive traffic to your posts. Use Hashtagify to ensure you’re using the most effective tags for your target audience. And on that note…
6) An Established Target Market
It is impossible to market your business if you don’t know who you’re marketing to! One of the most important steps to starting a business is becoming familiar with your target market, and it will take some thorough research. After developing a clear understanding of what your business is going to sell or offer, think about who can benefit from those products or services. Who may need them? Who may want them? Once you decide on the type of consumer you want to target, distinguish the following demographics:
- Marital status
These demographics will help you better understand your target, what they are looking for, and which marketing tactics they may respond to. A teenage boy will respond to advertising much differently than a working mother.
7) A Marketing Plan
After identifying your target market, it is time to work on a marketing plan to determine how to best reach your audience. This should include a strategy for the advertising, promotion, and public relations aspect of your business, as well.
Having a thorough understanding of your target market makes choosing your marketing tactics much easier. It is important to keep in mind the 4 P’s of marketing.
The 4 P’s
The 4 P’s are essentially what the marketing mix is made up of. Each element has its own set of marketing tactics.
- Product – name, design, branding, packaging
- Price – retail price, payment period, credit terms
- Place – locations, channels, inventory, distribution
- Promotion – advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, coupons, discounts, PR
The way you market your business depends on your product and your target audience. Determining which methods are most effective for your company will take time, research, and most likely some trial and error.
8) An Email List
Another great way to interact with your customers and client base is to build an email list. Start out small, and offer incentives for people to join your list. Give a sneak peek of the exclusive content that email subscribers will have access to. Let customers know that signing up for regular emails will ensure that they’ll receive member-only discounts and offers, and to be the first to know about new company happenings. Send regular email blasts to those on your list, with useful information and/or offers. Keep them fun and interesting to avoid the ever-dreaded unsubscribe button!
9) A Professional Network
“Everyone should build their network before they need it” – Dave Delaney, author of New Business Networking.
Networking is one of the most vital steps to starting a business. Establishing a solid network of industry experts, even before your business takes off, will give you the competitive edge you need. This may sound difficult, but there are many networking opportunities available to new entrepreneurs both digitally and locally.
Your local Chamber of Commerce likely hosts regular networking events. State business associations hold connectivity seminars for young professionals, seasoned industry leaders, and everyone in between. Some even offer free registration. Bring a stack of business cards, iron your favorite threads, and get your name out there!
In reference to online networking, social media proves to be very effective. It is easy to keep in touch with those you meet in person through their social media accounts, as well as via email. Industry leaders love to tweet, and quoting them in your published content is a great way to be recognized and receive a response. Remember the importance of building and maintaining relationships with customers and those you’ve worked within the past. In this digital age, the easiest way to do this is online. You may be surprised by how powerful a simple holiday email or a comment on a social media post can be, and how these simple actions can grow your digital network.
10) Directory Listings
Your website is designed beautifully and is filled with content your customers will love. Your social media accounts are posting regularly, and you’ve even gotten a few press mentions. The marketing plan is well underway and your company is already reaping the benefits of the latest campaign. What’s left to do?
Take one more measure to really lock in the guarantee that potential customers will be able to find your business. Your business name, location, and contact information should all be easily accessible. Joining directory listings, both local and global, is a surefire way to accomplish this.
Chambers of Commerce feature lists of local businesses on their website. Be sure that your business is included, and that the information listed is accurate and up to date. Other digital directories, like Google My Business and Merchant Circle, are useful resources to provide your business information to people who may not reside in your location.
How Many of These Marketing Must-Haves Are In Your Business Strategy?
Starting a business takes a great deal of time, research, and patience, but adhering to these 10 marketing must-haves will remove a lot of the guesswork for you. Still, no two businesses are built the same — and that’s where we step in. You bring the vision, and we’ll bring the marketing experience and guidance needed to reach your target audience and put your business on the map.
Wondering what we can do for your company’s online presence? Contact us to learn more about our services and find the perfect package for your business.
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