It is pretty easy to set up a new business but the actual challenge lies in surviving the cutthroat competition and to stimulate growth over the years. One of the prime reasons why most of the businesses face a very tough time is the lack of proper marketing plan and minimal focus on branding. After all, only when you are able to market your products properly to your target segment will you have a chance to generate revenue to take your business forward.
While a business success is largely dependent on concerted effort of various major functions, during the early years it is most important to focus on branding. Your branding effort should be strong enough not just to introduce your company name to your target segments but also create an impact on them. For a new business the marketing and branding strategy should ideally be able to establish its presence, create name recognition, build credibility among the target market segment and contribute to its status and reputation. Here are seven tips that would actually help you to achieve success with your new business.
1. Write Down Your Business Plan – This should be the first step. Probably the most common and biggest mistake that most entrepreneurs do is not creating a proper documentation of their business plan. We all know what we plan to do, yet it is important to write it down in a formal business plan. It is always easier to follow a written plan. Your business plan should contain your business description. Objectives, marketing strategy and budget, Business overview, facilities and infrastructure, description of products and service, Industry overview, Regulatory Issues, Implementation plan and financial plan.
2. Focus on your Branding – Do everything you can to promote your brand. Get a professionally designed logo that would justifiably represent your business to the people. Get your business cards, letterheads, brochure and marketing collaterals designed and printed by professional design and printing house. Ensure that your logo design is properly placed in all these. Don’t fall pray to those cheap DIY logo and branding solutions, they might save you a few $$ to start with but it would actually take a toll on your brand image.
3. Create a Web Presence – It is most crucial for every business, irrespective of its size, to have a website of its own. Most consumers do their initial research on the web before making a buying decision. It is important that they are able to find you at that stage. Also, a website adds value to your brand and gives you an added medium to communicate with your customers. Get your website designed and developed by professional web developers. Your website should ideally be an extension of your brand and provide complimentary information to that of your brochures and print materials. Try to update your website often with useful information, this gives your visitors a reason to check back your website regularly.
4. Create an Advertising Strategy – Most business organizations invest in advertisements but often a business does not get the maximum ROI on its advertising spend because the advertising strategy is not effective or at times, there is even no fixed strategy. Make sure your advertisement is targeted specifically at your market; for example, if you are a local store, it doesn’t make sense for you to advertise on a global media, rather the local newspaper is a much better option for you. Be consistent in your advertising effort. The more your customers see your company ad, the deeper impact it creates on them. It has been observed that a 5-minute ad film served 10 times creates a greater impact on the consumer than a 50-minute ad film. For your ad composition, it is always advisable to consult a PR agency. If you are trying it yourself, ensure that your advertisement leaves your customers with a good reason to contact you and your brand and USP is properly presented.
5. Publicity is the Key – Yes, do whatever you can to put your business on the forefront. There are various things that you can do for publicity. Send out a press release announcing a Grand opening for your new business, with a short description of your products and services. Keep your press release short, error free and interesting. Write letters to the editors of local newspapers and magazines about your industry and product. Send out further press releases to communicate other business happenings. For example, if you win a business award, get membership to a professional organization, offer services to any charity or even if you are hiring an industry recognized for a key position in your business. Try writing articles and reviews for local publications and industry magazines. This would help to build your credibility as an expert and would add value to your business brand as well. The amount of trust people place on such experts is much more than what you can get by buying the best ad slots on top magazines.
6. Business Networking – Word of mouth is undoubtedly the best form of advertisement and the more you expand your business network, the more you can have such publicity. Try joining professional organizations in your industry; be a member of Chamber of Commerce; attend networking meets and special events that give you a chance to interact with more people. Volunteer to join a NGO, get associated with a charity organization, or school board. You will not only be paying back your community but also be putting yourself and your business in front of the public.
7. Measure, Analyze and Decide – These should actually be continuous processes in your business life cycle. You have laid out a business plan but this doesn’t mean you will be blindly following it. Measure the output that you are getting from all the efforts that you put into your business. See if it is more or less than what you projected. Analyze the reasons for any variance, whether positive or negative, and then use the result of this analysis to make educated decisions for the future. You need to keep in mind that you should not be too quick to judge anything. To get a decent understanding of your business processes, you should give them sufficient time to run, which will allow you to have enough data to perform a fruitful analysis.