Marketing your business
Marketing a product or service means far more than just making a sale. Our tools will help you develop a marketing plan.
1. Preparing to market your business
Before entering a market there are questions you should already have answers to. Our page "Getting your product or service ready for market" will help you work through this. More
2. Developing a marketing plan
You need to know where you want to be in five years' time and plan for it.
A marketing plan can help you realise your plan. The following steps can help you develop a simple marketing plan. More
- Decide your vision. Where do you want to be in five years? If you don't know where you want to be, how will you get there?
- Set some measurable objectives and strategies to achieve this. For example – to sell 300 units in three months could be an objective. Then decide how you will achieve this – this is your strategy.
- Identify if there are critical factors that must be achieved for your business to be successful.
- Identify the risks to your business, how likely they are to happen (high, medium or low), and what that impact will be if it does happen (again high, medium or low). Then come up with some actions that you can take to minimise risks and limit the impact on your business.
- Decide how you will measure whether or not you are successful. It could be number of customers, dollar sales, or hits to your website. It is usually good to have about six different measures.
If you need a more comprehensive marketing plan, refer to our page on "Preparing a detailed marketing plan", which also links to a marketing plan template.
3. Presenting your business in the best possible light
You need to set the scene for your business and make sure your business is always presented in the right light. More
- Remember the power of clothing and how it can set the right impression. Dress to match how you position your business and to meet customers' expectations.
- Don't forget about body language – both from you and from your customers. Crossed arms, however, may just mean someone is cold!
- Be aware of cultural difference both in overseas markets and in Australia. You could inadvertently turn off people from a particular culture by using the wrong colours, imagery or language.
- Make sure your business appearance reflects the professional image you want to convey to your customers and suppliers. Consider your desk, car, reception area and the technology you use.
- Always be organised when meeting customers or suppliers. Have everything you need on hand.
4. Using consistent branding to get noticed
Branding is one of the most powerful strategic tools you can use to build your business and get noticed for all the right reasons. More
Branding is not about logos, corporate colours or business cards – these support your branding once you have identified your brand. A brand can be for a product, service or person.
Branding is about the emotive response your customers have when they hear your business name. If they feel no emotion, then you have no brand.
Your branding should be easy to remember and easy to use. You must be consistent and meet expectations of who you say you are. If you say you are fun – then you always have to be fun. It is easier to be consistent if you develop a brand personality:
- Ask yourself – if my company was a person – what would they be like?
- Think of this person at a social situation such as a party. What would they wear, eat, drink, listen to, drive? Create a real personality that you can picture. Give them a name and then use them to check everything you do. For example, you might come up with a personality like the following -
o George: Male, early 40s, married with a family, drinks premium beer or nice wine, drives a Ford Territory, completed Year 12 at a public school, holidays at the family shack and every few years goes somewhere else in Australia, listens to 80s music. You now know that the brand would never come out with a pink brochure or a letter with language that is formal or fluffy.
- When you have a clear picture of the 'personality' of your business, think of six adjectives that will ensure your brand is memorable, for example, quietly confident, genuine, enthusiastic, personable, inspiring, warm.
- When you produce any marketing and communications materials ask yourself if your personality would do this. Would they produce something that looks like this or communicates this way. This approach ensures consistency.
5. Communicating so your messages get heard
To ensure your business gets noticed you need to decide the key things you want your customers to know about you or to remember about you and repeat these consistently. More
- Come up with no more than six key messages and repeat them in everything you do. This can be in brochures, on your website, in press releases, and in advertisements.
- You may decide to use just one of your key messages in a particular marketing initiative, or you may choose (depending on the medium) to use them all.
- Keep repeating them. You may grow tired of saying them but you can be sure that your target market will only start to hear them after they have been exposed to them at least 20 times.
- Key messages should be easily repeatable by everyone promoting your business.
6. Having an engaging website to build business
A good looking website is critical in today's business world. If people are coming to your website for the first time, usually via a Google search, you have only the blink of an eye for them to decide if they want to stay and explore further or click out. More
- Don't make your audience have to think
A clean and appealing design makes it easy to find information without too much effort. Have the navigation where your customers would expect it. Make sure there are no technical issues.
- Make sure you are making the right first impression
Ask yourself if your website matches your branding, creates credibility and says you are easy to deal with. Make sure it looks professional and builds trust in dealing with you.
- Tell them what you do straight away
Have a very clear and prominent statement that says exactly what you do. This allows the visitor to confirm immediately if they are in the right place or not.
- Have a call to action
Give your customers an opportunity to engage with you, for example, an invitation to call, ask for a demonstration, sign up for a newsletter, download a trial or leave a review.
- Use pictures and use them well
Pictures can create an emotive response and can provide the same information as a paragraph of text. They can also be used as a navigation clue, for example, a picture of a family can direct users to the family section.
- Have less content
Don't crowd your website with irrelevant content. Identify why people are coming to your website and then deliver. People don't read online, they scan, and so they don't want pages of content. If you need to provide detailed information, attach a PDF that can be printed and read offline.
- Size can matter
A website is a fantastic way to make you look bigger – if you want to. Think about your positioning and who your target market is – what sized company do they want to deal with? Then make sure your website says this.
Our "Get your business online" section provides detailed information about websites and online marketing.
7. Smart advertising to get noticed
Advertising can help your business get noticed. If you decide to advertise, you'll need to decide what gives you the best value for money. More
Advertising ideas include:
- Newspaper advertising – small local, regional and national papers can be targeted. Local papers can be very cost-effective, while daily newspapers tend to be expensive and will only deliver your message on one day.
- Radio – includes advertorial advertising, traditional radio ads and jingles. This medium works well for some products but not all. Most of these messages are heard while people are driving. Ask yourself – will the listener take action when they get to their destination?
- TV – is relatively cheap in Tasmania; it can cost as little as $700 to develop an ad. Don't just use the major channels, think about some of the newer and more targeted channels and think about different times of the day to advertise.
- Online – Facebook, Google and banner ads are low cost and can be good to trial. Choose a cost-per-click model, meaning someone must click on the ad and go to your website before you incur any costs.
- Cinemas – you have a captive audience and ads can be targeted to a specific segment, i.e. parents of small children.
- Magazines – are usually very expensive but can be targeted to niche markets, i.e. teachers.
- Billboards – can create great visual impact and have longevity, as does advertising on backs of buses.
- Letter box drops – can be delivered by Australia Post to create added credibility. You can target select postcodes.
- Yellow pages – a necessary evil? Depends on your target market. It is expensive and so you need to ensure your ad size gives a good return on investment.
Printed promotional material can also help you get noticed. These days, printing material is cheap with digital printing and you no longer need to print large quantities.
Ideas for printing materials include:
- capability brochures
- fliers and postcards
- direct mail
- newspaper inserts
- in-store promotions
- business cards
- coupons loyalty cards.
8. Promoting newsworthy events
News stories are usually free (unless you use a public relations consultant to assist) and can create great credibility. Promoting newsworthy events can generate interest in your business. More
To make your events newsworthy, you need to consider:
- Launches – is a launch an excuse to have a great party or to get news coverage?
- Media releases – when putting together a news story, ask yourself why someone would want to read this; it has to be interesting.
- Becoming an industry expert – can you build relationships with journalists so you become known as an industry expert who can comment on specific issues?
- Sponsorship and donations – can you develop some goodwill through a news story around any sponsorships or donations you make?
- Speaking at conferences – can you get a story about your presentation or your topic in targeted media.
9. Developing distribution strategies
You need to decide how you intend to get your product or service to market and you may choose a number of different ways or channels. Knowing who your target market is and how best to reach them is critical in this decision making process. More
You can reach your target markets through a number of channels, including:
- distributors (also called wholesalers) who sell to retailers. You also need to decide if this relationship will be exclusive, intensive or selective
- an agent, who typically sells direct on behalf of the producer
- direct sales force
- online direct sales.
When deciding the best distribution strategy you should investigate:
- the logistics and costs for each distribution channel
- the pricing model for different distribution channels.
Your distribution strategies may fail if you:
- do not have the right distribution channel for your products or services
- don't understand your target customers' channel preferences
- over-rely on one channel – you can try a number of different channels
- don't keep the 'love' with partners – keep them up-to-date and informed so your product or service is top of mind with them
- fail to re-visit and update strategies
- don't want to deviate from what has worked in the past.
10. Resourcing, budgeting and planning
Each business needs to ensure they have enough people. Make clear decisions about who's going to do what. More
When resourcing you need to think about:
- getting-to-market roles – project management, marketing, sales, business management
- business roles - customer service, sales, back office, product fulfilment, partner relationships and management
- after-sales support and maintenance.
Are you confident your people have the level of service and the expertise and skills to set you apart from your competitors? Ask yourself if they support or hinder your brand?
It is critical you set a budget for how much your 'getting to market' activities will cost and ensure you can afford them. Initially don't limit your ideas to budget –a great idea that costs a lot could be approached in a similar way at a lower cost.
Plan for when you do make sales - what percentage of income can be directed into marketing and communications activities?
Make sure you plan for your actions and timetable for when they are going to happen – otherwise they will never happen.
This plan should be something that can be referred to easily on a weekly basis.
A completed marketing strategy and plan should not be able to hold open a door – it should be a slim, usable document.