Don’t start a small business without a marketing plan
After years of hard work and planning, you’re ready to open up your small business. At long last, the community will be able to gaze upon the fruits of your labor. But hold up. Before you light up that neon “OPEN” sign, make sure you’re not forgetting something.
Yes, that’s right. You’ve told your friends, family, and neighbors about your new endeavor, but do you have a marketing plan other than that?
In a world where the vast majority of small businesses fail, it’s vital that you do everything possible to set yourself up for success. Making a quality product is important, sure, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t have enough people aware of it.
You could try to set up a website yourself, but it’s better to set aside some room in your budget for a full marketing plan. Marketing experts will notice things you might miss, and they can devote their working hours to ensuring your company is as visible as possible.
A Tale of Two Companies
Consider this example: Say Tammy opens up a cupcake shop in her neighborhood. She sells gluten-free products and wants people with special nutritional needs to know that. But when someone googles “gluten-free sweets” in her town, she doesn’t have a website to show them. Or maybe someone drives by her shopfront and wants more information, but an Internet search only reveals an address and nothing more. Tammy is losing out on potential customers by not having a website she can use to market her business.
A basic website might work in the short-term, but if you want to be around a while, you’ll need something a bit more than that. Take a look at some of the best website designs, and then contrast them with some of the worst. Good sites are striking and easy to navigate. Bad sites are muddled and messy. You want to be in the former group, not the latter.
Now consider another scenario: After the last chain bookstore in town shuts down, Anna decides to jump into the market with her own independent bookstore. She starts a website with a countdown to the date the bookstore opens, which builds anticipation. The marketing company she hires also sets up social media accounts for the store, which offers customers another way to communicate with the business. Thanks to her strong Internet presence, local media picks up on the fact that a new bookstore is about to opening, and they call Anna up to interview her. By the time Opening Day arrives, there’s a line of customers waiting outside the door to do some book-shopping.
The right marketing team can help you build buzz and anticipation, then maintain it once your business is open. That’s especially important if you’re competing for a small slice of a divided market, and nowadays, most businesses are. Situations like the bookstore example above are increasingly rare, although they offer a great opportunity for the right person and the right business.
Be like Anna, not Tammy. Don’t go in unprepared and hope that word-of-mouth will be enough to sustain your business. Word-of-mouth is certainly important, but you need more than that. You don’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, there’s a certain amount of wisdom in knowing when it’s time to call in the experts. Find a good marketing team that will work for you, and with a little luck and a lot of hard work, you could end up becoming one of the success stories that inspire other potential business owners.