Let's Talk #DARBiz: Marketing Your Business

A collaborative effort between SpeedontheBeat.com and DefineaRevolution.com, "Let's Talk DARBiz" was created with those entrepreneurs in mind. If you've ever wanted to start up your own company, we've got you. Today, Ali Golds, a UK-based writer and successful businesswoman in her own right, shares some tips for marketing. So, without any further ado, let's get into it.

Being your own boss, running your own business, and being responsible for your own success, is one of the most amazing things you can do. The satisfaction of knowing that you, and you alone, are responsible for the achievements of the day; that the money in the bank has come from your hard work, and your happy clients are happy as a result of your applied skills and knowledge, is immeasurable.


So how do you get from an idea to a fully-fledged business? How do you take those skills, that knowledge and experience and turn it all into cold, hard cash? How do you take that first step into the unknown and come out the other side with a top class product, compelling brand and clients who love you?

As a seven-business veteran, an experienced start-up coach specialising in business development, and best-selling author of How To Be Your Own Boss As A Single Mum, as well as regularly consulted on business matters by a wide range of companies and founders, I’m going to show you. I’ve worked with start-ups run by teenagers right through to those in their 70’s and in every industry you can imagine, from artists and musicians, to bookkeepers and writers, via hairdressers and carpenters. There’s no challenge I haven’t encountered either myself, or through my coaching, and I’ve been round the block more than a few times.

I’ve experienced heady highs, and I’ve experienced the lowest of lows. From owning fancy houses and fast cars, to facing bankruptcy due to failed ventures – I’ve been there and done it. But do you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Ridiculously wealthy or totally broke, I love being my own boss; making my own decisions and designing my own future. The heartbreak has been worth it and, as we go through this series, you’ll see why my passion for start-ups is unrivalled. After all, knowing that the business you’ve created, whatever it may be, has helped and supported others, is humbling. And feels pretty good too.


Over the next four weeks, we’re going to look at the practicalities of starting a business, the marketing, the finance, and then how to get it off the ground. I’m going to share my time-tested hints, tips, tricks and solutions with you, plus there’ll be lots of opportunities for you to ask me questions about your own business – or to make suggestions for other articles you’d like to see.

Enjoy the journey!

Today I’m going to talk about marketing your business; defining your vision, customer and competitor research, tying down your offer, and figuring out how much to charge.



Your vision and goals

It’s important to know what you’re doing this for, what you want from your business, and to then translate that into workable, and achievable, goals. You will no doubt have already heard of SMART goals but for those who haven’t, I've listed them below:
Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely

Everything you set yourself as a target, or as a goal, should be written as a SMART goal; that way it’s much easier to measure whether you've achieved it or not, and it will also help you to write your next set of targets. Think about what you’d like to achieve in your first twelve months. For a lot of businesses, this can just be to still be trading at the end of the period; a huge challenge in itself! And what would you like to achieve in your first three or five years? Perhaps you want to be turning over X amount in revenue, have a couple of members of staff, or have developed a new product or service. Whatever it is, write it down and embrace it. You can also use these goals as motivation in your daily life; a reminder of what you’re working for and towards on those days when you may well question your sanity. We've all been there, trust me!
Your offer Are you completely clear about what your business does? What it sells, or what it offers? And what are the benefits to clients who buy from or work with you? If you want to make money, and bring in clients, these aspects need to be thought through before you start marketing your business. A couple of points: you will need, also, to have devised your USP – your Unique Selling Point. This is what makes you different to your competitors and is what you will sell yourself on. It could be that you deliver products to clients within 24 hours, and your competitors don’t, or perhaps you offer a service in a way that others don’t. Whatever your USP is, you need to identify it and make it the core of your marketing message. You can learn more about devising your USP here. Secondly, you must learn to sell on the benefits of what you do, not the features. Successful sales people always sell on the benefits; what difference does product/service make to the lives of your clients, why should they buy it? Here’s a trick I use when helping clients to define the benefits of their offer: use the phrase ‘So?’ at the end of every benefit statement. Write down the benefit, as you see it, and then ask yourself ‘So?’ meaning, and this is useful to me why? The more you drill down the reasons why your offer is what clients want, the further you’ll get to identifying the true benefits of your product or service. Research Do you know what your customer really wants? Not just what you think they want? Do you know what your competitors offer, and why customers like purchasing from them? Doing your research is a vital part of starting a business, and not to be undertaken lightly. You can run online surveys, focus groups, and send out sample products for feedback, for example. Always listen to feedback, particularly in the early planning stages, and take on board any suggestions for alteration or adjustment, but without compromising what your business stands for (a difficult balance sometimes). Competitor research should be an ongoing process, not something done just for your business plan. You will have direct and indirect competitors, local and national competitors (potentially) and they will change regularly. Being aware, therefore, of what the competition is up to is sensible and highly useful for your own business planning; start-up and growth. Pricing I could write a series of blogs just on this subject alone but suffice to say that pricing is the marketing topic that most start-ups worry about. There are schools of thought that say you should weigh up your offering alongside that of your competitors, and then make a decision as to where you position yourself; and there are schools of thought that say you should price according to your heart and if you want to charge lots of money for what you do, then you should. I will just say this: whatever price you charge, make sure that your research bears out that the market will sustain it, and that you cover your costs and profit margin sufficiently. If clients look at your offer and don’t think the price stacks up, they won’t buy. Simple as. Promotion and advertising There’s a stack of ways to get your name out there and bring in some clients, and a lot can be done for free. You should be prepared to pay for work on your branding, which underpins everything else you do, and also for a website if you aren’t very techy (or don’t have the time to learn). Here’s a few suggestions of basic marketing tools and methods that you can use to promote your business:
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Speaking engagements
  • Blogs
  • Webinars and videos
  • Networking
  • Freebies, extras and special offers (don’t overdo these!)
Advertising is a targeted way of finding clients but, even though you can pinpoint your ideal lead with laser accuracy, it still has a relatively low success rate; somewhere between 20-25%. Much more successful is word of mouth recommendation – so start working on getting testimonials from previous clients, and using them in your marketing campaigns. There’s a lot more to marketing, and not enough space here today to go into everything. I always recommend speaking to experts, finding articles and videos online, and talking to those already running a business to really get to the heart of how to market to clients. Marketing is a work in progress for every business, every day; not just for start-ups. Is there a business topic you’d like to know more about? Got a question you’d like answered? Let us know! See you next week!

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