Marketing in the startup phase is often difficult because small business owners don’t understand the difference between sales and marketing. (see my previous post Sales Slump? Do You Have the Right Resource Assigned?). Marketing is all about understanding what the customers wants to satisfy their need and communicating exactly what you can offer to fill that need.
The first step us understanding the market’s need. This takes shape by following a very simple process:
- Describe your offering
- Identify your target market
- Analyze your competition
- Define your competitive differentiation
- Develop your marketing strategy
At first this is done using research. This research has the goal of finding out about who wants what you have to offer, why, and where they are located. The post 3 Problems When Shoestring Marketing will provide a little more insight on this research aspect of marketing.
As you complete the research you must disengage yourself from the emotional excitement of your idea and look rationally at what is really possible. If you let yourself the research will tell you if there are enough people that really care about your offering to make it a real business. Listen to what the numbers are telling you here. If not, you will spend a lot of time and money on something that doesn’t have a chance no matter how hard you try!
Next, you need to communicate what you have to offer to the market. That means sending the right message to the right people to get them interested.
Creating this message is often a difficult task for new business owners. They are so excited about their offering that they only talk about their offering and forget to tell the customer how it will benefit them, solve their problem, and fill their need. Our online course Developing Your Brand Position is designed to assist you in developing that message to your market place.
It is this habit of talking too much that kills many small businesses’ growth. They are telling the customer about their product instead of listening to what they customer wants or need.
Listening is the best skill you can develop at this stage of the game. The market will tell you what it wants. You just have to be willing to listen and adjust accordingly. If you cannot adjust, it’s only a matter of time before the market will leave you in the dust.
So, at the existence stage, marketing is no different than at any other stage of the growth cycle, but you want to establish good marketing habits here that will help you as you move up the growth cycle. It’s all about research and communication. Listen to what the market is telling you and communicate as effectively as possible how your offering meets the need.