Acorn Enterprise has worked with well over 150 start-ups and new businesses in Fife, and the surrounding areas, since we launched in 2013.
Our goal is to accelerate new businesses, through a process we call, ‘fast learning’.
Another question we get asked a lot is, “How do I Promote My New Business?”
Before we look at any marketing activities themselves, let’s set the scene by exploring three areas a lot of start-up business owners miss out: the customer, strategy and measurement.
Yes, this is a bold claim, however, in our experience it is sadly very true.
We come across new business owners who do it all: Twitter, facebook, email marketing, cold calls, leaflet drops, ads in the local media, newsletters and blogging.
But this is only part of the marketing process. You always need to start with your customer. Do you know them? And I mean, REALLY know them?
A lot of new business owners claim they know their customers and that they’re targeting, “every home owner”. By doing this, you’re setting yourself up to fail before you start!
How can a one person business possibly target every home owner?! Even a corporate giant like Tesco doesn’t target “everyone”, with all of its money and marketing muscle, so how can you seriously believe that you can?
You can, however, segment your market, by targeting smaller sub-groups. For example, “all first-time home owners in Fife, aged 27-47, earning between £20,000 – £35,000 per annum”. Now we’re starting to get somewhere.
Get Intimate With Your Customers!
However, there is still a long way to go. In fact, you’re going to have to get intimate with your customers!
Some call it “empathy” and what this means is knowing your customers really, really, really well – for example, do you know what keeps your customers awake at night? Where do they hang out? What their values and beliefs are?
By knowing your customers this well, you can communicate with a particular group, or “segment”, of people and you will therefore attract more of the same sort of people. You’ll be speaking their language, which will gain their trust, allowing you to build a real relationship with them quickly – this could eventually lead to you building a “community” around your business.
How do you get to know your customers better? Speak to them, ask them questions and listen – that’s it.
You know now who your customers are, where they hang out and what their biggest problems are but before you start any marketing activities to promote your start-up business, you need to determine your objectives.
This is not some scary process or a bit of meaningless paperwork, your marketing strategy is the very foundation for all of the efforts to promote your new business.
So ask yourself, what are you hoping to achieve?
This has three layers:
1. Business objectives: what are you hoping to achieve with your business in, say 5 years?
A lot can be achieved in this time and it’s not too far away that you can’t aim towards it, and it’s not too close to give you sleepless nights!
2. Marketing objectives: what are you hoping to achieve for new business with all of your marketing efforts (that will help move you closer to your business objectives)?
3. Marketing Activity objectives: specifically looking at your marketing activities (social media, your website, networking), what are you hoping to achieve from each of them?
Right about now, you’re thinking that you do consider your customers and a strategy when it comes to marketing your new business. You’ve got a Facebook page, leaflets and business cards and “they’re working”, right?
That’s great but how effective are these marketing activities for your start-up business? How much revenue can you attribute to each of these marketing activities? Are you even measuring your marketing efforts?
There used to be saying in Marketing, “Half of my Marketing works and half doesn’t – I just don’t know which half is which!”. Whilst this may have been true 50 years ago, it is no longer true in 2015. If you’re a new business owner and you’re not measuring your marketing efforts, you’re really missing out on a lot of valuable information that could make a real difference to your business.
You can now measure every form of Marketing your business undertakes: use Google Analytics (which we covered in a previous blog) to measure the amount of traffic on your website; use promo codes to gauge your ad in the local paper; and use unique phone number on leaflets to track their effectiveness.
So before you rush to get involved in the next social media platform or the next shiny marketing tool (ooooo shiny!), make sure you understand who your customers REALLY are (what keeps them awake at night?), where they are (are they even on facebook?!) and how well your current marketing efforts are working (how much money does each marketing activity generate for you?).
Let us know below what you’re doing to get to know your customers, develop your marketing strategy and measure your efforts. Check out part 2 of this blog, which looks at at 5 marketing activities to promote your start-up business.