Many of our businesses go on to start their own businesses, and small businesses now account for 48% of the UK’s employment. The internet has significantly opened up the possibilities of starting your own business and marketing it yourself, without having a marketing qualification or hiring an expensive agency. Today, you can build your own website and manage your own promotional activity with tools like wix.com, Autosend and Canva, and have the potential to reach a global audience.
It’s never been a more exciting time for small businesses and start-ups, but remember that perfecting your marketing plan is just as important as having a great product. We also know that with all the options out there, for first-time business starters, it can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a few things you should be thinking about to get you started.
Know your customers
Make sure you take the time to sit down and define your potential customers in detail. Think about their lifestyle so you can target your marketing to attract them. What activities do they engage in? Where do they go for dinner? Do they have children? It’s also important to think about how they consume media. Are they active on social media? If so, which channels? Are they more likely to be reached by email? Perhaps they can’t be reached through digital methods at all, in which case you need to adopt print media, radio, magazine advertisements. You need to know your customers’ habits inside out to be able to market to them successfully.
When starting out, it’s great to get established businesses on board with you. It helps strengthen your brand to have a stamp of approval or recommendation from an already thriving business, so look around for businesses that you could collaborate with. This could be agreeing to set-up reciprocal links on your website, re-posting social media articles, collaborating on events or special promotions, or approaching local businesses. If you’re a food venture, maybe you could work with the local butcher, for example. Think about your ideal customer and what other brands they would most identify with and use, and work towards fitting your own business into that landscape.
Pinpoint your key influencers
No matter what field you’re in, there will be some major players and also key influencers in that field. Think about people with big Instagram followings, journalists, bloggers… anyone that has a voice of authority that you can get to talk about your business or product to their followers. It will boost your credibility instantly if you can get their endorsement. Consider sending sample products to an influential blogger in the industry, or inviting key influencers to your launch event.
Use social media
We are living in the digital age – any business worth knowing not only has a website but also has also thought carefully about which social media platforms are best utilised to reach their customers. If you have decided that social media is appropriate for your business, it’s not enough to just sign up to every social platform out there and start posting right away – Instagram, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, Google+ and LinkedIn are all incredibly effective marketing platforms, but only if your customer is using them too. If social media is right for your brand, there’s a whole world of exciting opportunities for you to engage your audience. Start by engaging with similar brands – see what they’re doing and how they have built their followings. This is also vital for reaching out to your key influencers.
Whether it’s via social channels or face-to-face, there’s power in numbers. To be successful you’ll need to be known in your industry and amongst your target customers. It helps you to build relationships with key influencers, find new business partnerships and importantly, learn from others in your network. You can read more about our networking advice, here.