By Howard Masters, director of creative agency Kanjo.
You've decided to set up your own business, you know you need to market it, but just how exactly should you do this?
Before creating your strategy it’s important to realise that the rules of marketing are a changing – no longer can you simply ‘advertise’ your services and directly sell to your customers – they now expect a whole lot more…You need to invest in building budding relationships with them.
Sounds like a tough mission? It doesn’t have to be.
By making sure your customer is the central focus from day one you will instil trust, loyalty and brand allegiance in them. They will then be more susceptible to your marketing further down the line.
Here are my top twenty tips to help you build a marketing campaign focused around your customers:
1. Know your sector or marketplace
It sounds obvious, but do you fully understand it? If not, do a bit of research. What is common practice? How big is your marketplace?
2. Study your competitors.
Who are they? What marketing do they do? What are they offering their customers or prospects? What are their USPs? How do you compare with them on price, quality of product, service etc? Know how to position yourself.
3. Who is your target audience?
Where do they gather, what media do they use – on and offline? What are they looking for? Can you divide them into different segments and approach them in different ways? Know as much as you possibly can about them. Get under their skin, listen to them talking, you'll be surprised at how much you can find out through this.
4. What channels are going to be best to reach them with?
In terms of the amount it will cost you to reach them. In terms of how they like to consume messages from people/companies like you.
5. Do you have a USP? (unique selling point)
How big a deal is it for the people you’re targeting? Is it really unique?
6. Sounds silly, but what are you ACTUALLY selling or communicating to your audience?
If it’s complicated, simplify it.
7. What tone of voice should you adopt?
Again think about what’s right for the audience. Should it be chatty and friendly? e.g If you were selling pet food Or professional and serious? e.g If you were selling financial advice.
7. Imagine yourself as one of your customers that you personally know. How would you talk and write to them?
Now adopt this style in your marketing.
8. Make sure you remain single minded in your communication.
Don’t get sidetracked. This can be made easier by having clear brand messages that you always adhere to make sure you’re giving a clear message.
9. Differentiate between the benefits and features of your product/service.
Make sure you focus primarily on the consumer benefits. Why should I buy this from you? How will I benefit?
10. Make it fun or relevant (or both).
Engage the audience. Attract their attention. Drive their interest. Make them want it. Make sure you get the main message across upfront, at first glance. Otherwise you’ve lost them.
11. Maintain brand consistency on everything you produce.
So the consumer gets to easily recognise your company and understands and accepts what you offer.
12. Do you have any offers or special discounts you can promote?
13. Be absolutely clear what you want the audience to do.
Go to your website? Send for a brochure? Buy something now? Have a clear call to action.
14. And how they should respond.
By phone, email, reply coupon? Make it as easy as possible for them to buy from you.
15. Do your best to measure the outcome as accurately as possible.
How much did the campaign cost? How much did you sell, or even estimate you have sold, as a result of the campaign? How much margin does this translate into? And does this exceed the cost?
16. If someone responds, make sure you follow them up
Contact = relationship building.
17. And remember your best customers spend loads more with you than your worst.
So be prepared to spend that much more on your best customers. Don’t just treat them like cash cows. Reward them.
18. Make sure your website is in good shape.
Small changes can make a big difference to how you are perceived. Make sure you’re seen as you want to be seen from first point of contact.
Just one more thing to think about. Can you do all this stuff yourself? There are elements you’ll need to work out in terms of what you really want to offer as a business, but then could be the time to ask for outside help, calling on experience of experts to bring your plans to life.
Marketing can be a really fun element of business – but remember it’s also a science.
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