It seems like everyone has a great idea for a startup business, but when it comes to developing and selling their ideas to others, they often fall flat. All of the hours spent developing a business idea and perfecting the product or service one is selling will all be for naught if the development of the marketing strategy is ignored. There are simply too many ways a new business will fail when critical early phase components are overlooked. There are literally dozens of ways to become a failed startup, but by paying attention to a few key components your business will most certainly be putting the right foot forward for becoming a success.
So what are those components?
Well, they can be summed up in 3 key points:
1. Not knowing who your market is and how to sell in that market.
2. Lack of a unique value proposition. (offering the same item at the same price as everyone else)
3. Executing your business by NOT executing a solid marketing strategy.
Know Your Market
Points one and two are the most essential and should work together seamlessly. By knowing who your market truly is you will be able to offer them a unique value proposition thereby eliminating the need for you to compete on product quality or price alone.
Depending on the funding for the startup research can be done in a few different ways. You could hire a marketing group if you have the financial resources available or you can bootstrap. Either way; done correctly they will net the same results. You will identify where your customers spend their time, what their interests are and what motivates them. On top of that you should also be able to identify decision makers or influencers within that community.
Ok that’s great, but how do I actually go about identifying my target audience? If you’re scouring the Internet looking for articles to answer these tough questions then I highly recommend the following articles:
Opportunity, Value and Your Proposition
One of the best ways to draw in potential customers is to provide them with something great and something great is something they can’t get elsewhere. In my experience the most successful startups or new product launches have come from entrepreneurs who have found unique opportunity with a product or service they truly understand.
A great example of this would be Spider Archery. Sean is a friend and colleague of mine who is an avid archery competitor. Because he was participating in this sport at a competitive level, he was always looking for ways to improve his performance and accuracy. What did he do? He created one.
Sean developed his own stabilizer product for archery. Not only was his product very effective it became highly recognized within his community. What did Sean do right? Simply put he created something new for a niche he knew very well and that he knew there was a demand for. Because he knew this demographic so well, he also knew how to communicate directly to his audience. Bam! There’s your recipe for success.
Having a Strategy
Any start-up business faces several obstacles, including developing a successful marketing strategy. Very few companies have the necessary audience to be able to sell their products or services without marketing them. There is simply too much competition to ignore the value of good marketing. This is true even for well-known companies like Apple and Sony.
A person’s marketing strategy will depend on several factors, but most importantly, it will depend on the type of business they are developing. That being said, if you’ve addressed points 1 and 2 above, then you’re well on your way to having an effective marketing strategy. After all, your marketing strategy is nothing more than a plan of attack to communicate your unique opportunity to your audience.
If you already know your audience and where they spend their time then the only thing left to do is choose the online and print media methods to broaden your reach and reinforce your brand message. For most small businesses national tv advertising or ads in large print networks isn’t feasible, but by narrowly defining your niche your business will be able to take advantage of much more cost efficient advertising opportunities. The most important thing you can do is being honest with yourself – know your strengths and weaknesses because they will impact your marketing efforts.
In summary the question of “successfully marketing your business” is truly answered by the business owners connection to potential customers. In reality, a start-up company needs to aggressively market their products or services in order to sell them. However, making assumptions about what your customer wants, trying to compete on price alone, and spending money on marketing without having a plan are sure fire ways to kill your business right from the get go.