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Once you’ve established your business model, developed client or customer relationships, and filled in any gaps in your team, it’s time to scale your business, also known as the Build And Grow stage of a company’s life cycle. You may feel like everything is happening at once, with plenty of fires to put out. From new hires to streamlining day-to-day business processes, preparing financial documents for the scrutiny of potential investors, and lots of problem solving, these articles and tools will help you survive this challenging and exciting stage.
If you’re serious about getting the best value you can for your marketing budget, you’ll need to develop a marketing plan. We outline eight simple steps for making your marketing efforts more effective.
Firstly, you need to identify your target market. You probably have an idea of who buys from you but make sure you:
For example, if you run a restaurant in a commercial area, your target market could be workers in nearby offices and people passing by on foot. Take advantage of this by advertising with a local focus.
Spend time finding out about your customers’ preferences and habits, to help you focus your promotions more effectively. To get the best return on your investment, look at the way your message is structured, worded and designed – and where and when you advertise.
Market research is an effective way to help find out about your target market. Conduct online or in-store surveys, or simply ask customers for feedback when you see them in your shop.
Ask questions such as:
Your customers’ responses will highlight what works well and will help you attract more purchasers. This feedback can also help improve the service you offer – and encourage positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Show that you’re listening and improving where you can, and you’ll gain greater customer loyalty.
Find out who your direct competitors are – and gather as much detailed information about them as you can. Try:
If you want consumers to differentiate between you and your competitors, come up with a fresh marketing and advertising approach. Your competitors’ weaknesses will present opportunities for you to market your points of difference.
Sit down with your staff, advisers and mentors to brainstorm the best competitive advantage for your business. Your competitive advantage can be anything that sets you apart from your competitors in your target market – such as price, service, or location.
It should be something that:
After you’ve worked out your competitive advantage, use it in all of your marketing. Ensure that your competitive advantage is clear in any customer communication.
A promise helps clarify what the most important aspect of your business is to your customers. You want the customer to value your promise, or guarantee.
For example, if you offer a product or money-back guarantee, you need to stand by these assurances. Your customers will find out if you can’t stand by your promise and they’ll quickly lose trust in you and your business. You’ll also run the risk that they’ll warn their friends not to buy from your business.
Ensure it’s easy for your customers to interact with your business. They want to have enjoyable experiences regardless of what product or service you’re selling. Exceptional service is one area that should be non-negotiable. Also consider:
It’s vital you develop an integrated marketing strategy that makes sure all your promotions, advertisements, and marketing communications convey the same unified brand message and consistent brand values.
Also, make sure you maximize the opportunity to cross-market your message. For example:
Measure the return on investment on all your marketing efforts and update your marketing plans based on what works and what doesn’t – for your business, your market conditions, and your customers.
Some returns are easy to quantify, like the number of sales or the value of sales generated from an advert or promotion. Others are harder to put a value on, like the number of followers gained on social media or the number of visitors to your website. Some are a lot more difficult to measure, like customers’ perceptions or increased brand awareness.
Marketing experts will be able to advise you on the best ways to measure the hard-to-quantify parts of your marketing plan – and will help you improve your efforts for maximum results.
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