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All too often in conversations with clients and colleagues, I hear the terms “Lead Generation” and “Demand Generation” used interchangeably. Of course, once you start asking more questions, it becomes rather easy to delineate between which of the two they are really talking about.
You could have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it, how are they going to buy it? Steve Takle, editor of The Business Show Guide, explains why marketing is essential to the success of your business.
There have been entire books written about the subject by far more knowledgeable people, but it seems to me that the prime function of any marketing is to bring your company, product or service to the attention of potential customers, with the ultimate objective that they spend money with your business instead of another.
Why would they do that? Because you have identified and clearly communicated what it is that makes your business ‘different.’ You’ll often hear this referred to as your Unique Sales Proposition, or Unique Selling Point (USP). When identifying your USP, research what customers value and play to that strength. This could be anything from a product feature, to a difference in quality, or a service. Arguably, it’s almost irrelevant what your USP is, as long as it is established early on and reinforced with every message you send out.
Each of those messages should have a clear objective and fit into an overall strategy. Marketing activities can be general (establishing your brand), or specific (announcing a sale, special offer or new product) and the best strategies will combine both to complement one another. Having a schedule will help you to ensure that each activity builds upon those that preceded it with a cumulative effect, rather than conflicting. It will also enable you to schedule your marketing to build up to milestone dates like a product launch or new branch opening, as well as key times of the year for your market sector, such as the new financial year or Christmas.
You could also factor in consumer shows, trade events or relevant diary dates. Ring-fence a large proportion of your annual marketing budget for these peaks; forward planning means that you can allocate funds appropriately to deliver effective marketing at each key phase. You can always maintain customer awareness throughout the year with cost-effective activities such as emails and newsletters.
You should monitor response to your marketing to evaluate whether it has met its objectives by setting deadlines, targets and budgets. Your criteria will differ depending upon what it is that you want to achieve with each activity, but common measurables include sales growth, amount of enquiries, new customers, or average transaction value. This data will enable you to identify the areas in which your marketing is working effectively and which areas need to be improved.
There are more potential marketing channels available to you now than ever and it’s important both to remain consistent across them, while choosing the appropriate one for each activity. There’s little point booking an ad in a weekly trade paper for tomorrow’s 24-hour special offer, but a tweet would make perfect sense. Other channels to bear in mind are TV, radio, display advertising, leaflet drops, direct mail, direct selling, website, mobile and text messages. Monitor each phase of your marketing so that you can gauge which is most effective, as this will inform your strategy for future phases.
Finally, remember that your marketing doesn’t exist in a bubble, so keep in mind the context in which your prospects will encounter it. Is it up to date with your market sector and does it reflect any notable trends? How does it compare with your competitors?
source - businesszone
Modern business owners think about their digital strategies as soon as they start putting their company together. Of course, they don’t always put it in those terms, but it’s a rare entrepreneur who doesn’t check domain name availability when brainstorming business ideas.
Digital is everywhere
The fact is that the digital space is part of almost everything a start-up does, but as there are so many different options available, it can be hard to be sure that you’re doing the right things for your business at the right time.
This is especially hard because all of the different options for digital marketing will work - if you have the time and money – but there are some things that are more effective than others for different businesses.
Your digital strategy has specific influences
Choosing the right digital marketing strategy and tools for you depends on a few key things:
Digital marketing guidelines for start-ups
There are a few key things that you should do to ensure that your digital marketing is as effective as it can be:
1. Know your audience.
Your customers are the ones who will keep you in business, so it’s really important that you know exactly who they are.
Firstly, look at who your ideal customers are. You should profile them as completely as possible – make up whole lives for them! Name the customer personas that you come up with and for every piece of marketing that you produce think about how each of your customer personas would respond to it. If you think that they wouldn’t like it, don’t use it.
2. Match the channel to the activity.
Not all marketing activities work across all channels, so you need to think carefully about what you want people to do - this is your call to action (CTA - and then define the best channel for that.
A common example is competitions. Running a competition on your own website will only engage the people who are already visiting your site, unless you can bring them over from elsewhere. However, running a competition on Facebook could bring you new people, if you encourage your current fans to share the competition and/or pay for a promoted post or two.
In doing so, you also have to think about the terms and conditions of the channel you’re using – Facebook in particular is quite strict about this.
3. Go for best business impact at lowest cost
Your budget is limited, so don’t blow the whole thing in one place. A common mistake is for a start-up to define their marketing budget and then spend all of it on their website. Not a good plan!
Work out where the biggest wins are for you, and map it against cost. This means working out what you want people to do, and the least expensive way of getting more of the right people to do that thing.
Don't do cheap stuff just because it’s cheap, and don’t do big impact stuff without considering costs carefully.
What you’ll probably find works best for you is a combination of different techniques that are each relatively low cost, but work together to get you the most in terms of impact. For example, social media, email marketing, a little pay-per-click, and an inexpensive website are likely to be good places to start. Don’t take my word for it though; work out if that is indeed the best strategy for you or not.
4. Test, test, test
This is another budget vs. impact issue. To save yourself time and money, try out your digital marketing ideas before you go for a big campaign.
This could be as simple as asking your target audience if they’d be interested in something you’re thinking of doing, or you might actually want to test a mini-campaign in a live setting.
The benefits of testing are that you will save time and money, as I’ve already mentioned, but also that you won’t open yourself up to huge mistakes that could turn your fledgling audience away from you.
5. Stay focussed on your customer
There's a difference between knowing your audience and focussing on giving them what they want, and you have to do both.
We both know that you want to get something across to your customer with your marketing. We know that you want them to take a specific action, and that’s good too. However, you have to make that appealing to them, by always coming back to what they want from you.
A great marketing trick to help with this is to talk to them about the problem that you are solving more than your solution for it.
Another way to approach it is by always talking about the benefits to the customer of using your products or services, rather than the features that it is made up of.
6. Speak to just one person at a time
No one likes to think that they're only a number to you, so look carefully at the language that you use in your marketing and make sure it’s directed at each of your customers individually. I’m not talking about going crazy with personalisation (although where it’s easy, you should personalise messaging), it’s more about using the language that works for a one-to-one conversation.
For example, 'you may find' is more direct than 'some of you may find'. A tiny difference, but it really matters.
If you can follow these guidelines, your business will be in good shape to make the most of the opportunity that digital marketing offers.
Source - Businesszone
Brand identity is described as “the visible elements of a brand (such as colours, design, logo type, name and symbol) that together identify and distinguish the brand in the customers’ mind”.
All the elements in the definition above are the things that people will look at to decide whether or not to do business with you so you need to get them right.
Know what you stand for
Before you build your brand, you need to think carefully about why you’re in business in the first place and what you hope to achieve. This will help you build a mission statement and a personality for your business. A professional services firm, for example, may have a serious personality, whereas an ice-cream business may be more lighthearted and playful.
Frank Gramage, senior manager of brand communications at Vistaprint, says: "It's really important to define your business. Firstly, you have to believe in what you do, so consider the real reason behind your business. Once you've identified that, you need to dig deeper and understand your customer and what needs you're addressing. Only then can you start building a brand identity."
It’s also a good idea to work out where your brand sits in the market by carrying out a SWOT analysis. Analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Don’t forget to look at what your competitors are doing on their websites and through social media. Also search online for what people are saying about them.
It may sound corny but successful entrepreneurs build a great story around their company. Business blogger Seth Godin describes a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Brand identity is a vital part of that.
Key to the whole process is understanding exactly who your target market is. Depending on the type of business you run, good questions to ask yourself include: Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they work? What challenges do they face? What level of education have they reached? What do they do in their spare time?
Once you’ve worked out your audience, personality and place in your market, it will help you create a logo and associated designs.
Designing a logo for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make in the early days of setting up a new business or refreshing an existing one. A logo will often be the first way a potential customer discovers your company so it’s vital that your logo communicates your brand.
As advised by many experts, your logo should be simple, distinctive, relevant, memorable, timeless, and versatile.
A complicated design can confuse customers and it may be hard to read when reproduced in different formats and different sizes. It also needs to be relevant to your sector. A logo for a nursery, for example, will be very different to one for an accountancy firm.
Ideally, your logo needs to last for several years so don’t include anything that’s time specific.
If your logo contains text, think carefully about the font you use and the message it communicates and chose colours that reflect your business.
Actually designing a logo can be a long process. There are various ways to do it. You could employ the services of a professional logo designer but that can be expensive. An alternative is to use a service that allows you to adapt your logo from template designs.
Once you’ve designed your logo, you need to reflect it in your marketing material. Keep your brand identity consistent across all customer touch points such as your website, business cards, stationary, packaging and email signatures.
Review, review, review
You should continually monitor your brand identity to make sure it’s stays fresh and relevant. As your business grows and new competitors arrive on the scene, your brand can begin to look tired and dated. You may also need to appeal to different types of customers.
If you think it’s time for change, you could completely rebrand but that can be risky. Big changes could damage your relationship with long term customers, something that is especially true for small businesses which are often particularly close to their customers. A big rebrand can also be costly as you’ll have to change your website, marketing material, signage etc. As this infographic shows, many of the world’s most iconic logos have changed little over the years.
A partial re-design could be the answer. Update with more modern colours or imagery, whilst keeping the integrity of your logo and other designs.
Do this and your brand will move with the times and attract the customers you need.
Source - Businesszone
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