Start your marketing early
Very few entrepreneurs get everything right first time. Many will tell you that their second business idea was more effective than their first. When you start out, there’s a strong temptation to think that everyone else must surely love your product or service as much as you do.
But you can avoid this pitfall. Here’s how.
Marketing starts with understanding customers’ behaviour. And understanding your own customers in particular. Even before you’ve found them.
It’s easy to make assumptions. And it’s easy to lose sight of changing consumer behaviour.
Those trends can put you out of business. Woolworth’s; the rural pub trade; the Post Office. Changes in shopping behaviour and spending habits can be a knife through the heart of a business.
For too long, these businesses tried to sell what people didn’t want any more.
You’re not going to do that.
So test your idea out. Family and friends can be expected to tell you how clever you are; that‘s all.
Instead, ask people you know- your social network. Ask those people to lead you to people who might be customers of yours. Gather e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Then get listening.
Don’t just ask them what they think of your product. Ask them what they buy, and what it would take for them to switch.
Don’t concentrate on price. Focus on VALUE.
Your competitors may have become complacent. There may be simple things you can do- at little or no cost- that make people feel so good that they’ll come to you instead.
If you’re selling a professional service, offer it, at cost, or free of charge, to a select group of pioneer customers. Make it clear that, in exchange, you’ll want detailed feedback. And- if they’re satisfied- a testimonial you can use in your promotional activity.
Don’t even think about drawing up a marketing strategy or a marketing plan till you’ve done this basic work. It will teach you how to pitch your customer offer.
Not persuaded? Remember this. The graveyard is full of the skeletons of businesses which didn’t listen to what their potential customers told them.