How do I take my product and service to market?

With what I call a tactical marketing plan.

From your market research and strategic planning, you will have identified who you want as customers and the best ways to attract them. To promote your product or service this may need a mix of marketing activities both offline, using traditional marketing such as print and advertising AND online, using tools such as a website and social media.

It is recommended that your business plan should include a tactical marketing plan detailing specific actions you will undertake in the year ahead. These are marketing activities you know from your research that if you action they will bring you customers and profit. So you may need to challenge your comfort zone and limiting beliefs to ensure you take these actions.

After you have identified your market and how to approach them, the effective promotion of your business is related to positive planning and actually taking the action you have identified by using the range of marketing activities available to sell your product or service.

To do this you need to plan time for marketing and maximise that time with action. Use your diary to mark out specific time for marketing and then do not let this time be taken by less important activities that can easily distract you.

Take this marketing time to use the tools available, to mix up your marketing activity, to raise awareness, to meet & interest people, and just sell, sell, sell to solve the buyers problem or meet their need.

With all marketing you should test and measure. Test activity and measure the outcomes. Your research may have suggested a way to market your business, but you need to measure the outcome to ensure you obtain the results you desire. Are you selling to the planned market? Are you achieving the financial results? Is additional research or resources required?

If your marketing is not producing the desired results then your activity may need a tweak or re-planning to test again and again until you identify what works for you. But please do not just stop. Once you have identified what works for you, then do more of it.

There are a number of marketing activities you can undertake to attract your customers, including for example:

  • WEBSITE PAGES AND BLOGS
  • ADVERTISING
  • DIRECT MAIL
  • PREMISES
  • SALES PROMOTIONS
  • E-MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
  • MERCHANDISING
  • RETAIL CHANNELS
  • PACKAGING
  • SALES TOOLS
  • FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
  • TELEPHONE USE
  • EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS
  • COMPANY LITERATURE
  • WORD-OF-MOUTH
  • SPONSORSHIP
  • PR – PRINT, RADIO AND TV
  • SOCIAL MEDIA

Each marketing activity needs different levels of resources and I recommend you review the available activities in more detail. If I can just mention a couple of these areas in more detail, then I will share some key focus points with you:

Networking
This is perhaps an activity chosen by many start up business owners, especially service based businesses, as they look to meet people and spread the word about their product or service.
Word of mouth is most powerful and good relationships can lead to referrals. I suggest you identify who can ‘influence’ your sales and focus on networking with these people and their own sphere of contacts. Before going to an event, have in mind the type of person or business you would like to meet and this will focus your activity when you are there, as time at such events can pass quickly without meeting the right people.
Once you have a good contact in your network, then work this contact to demonstarte to them how you can help them or their contacts with the view to generating a referral.
But don’t forget your closest network, you friends, family and old work colleagues. With practice you should look to establish a set of words you can use to introduce yourself at networking events that tells people you meet exactly what you do, how you help your customers and what encourages them to then listen some more.
So for example, are you a bookkeeper or someone who supports other businesses to keep accurate financial records?

Web site
Decide what presence you want. Perhaps you need a brochure site or a fully functional e-commerce site? How will you convert visitors into paying customers?
Whatever your web presence, then consider maximising this with search engine optimization, and good referral links. It is important that your web site replicates the same marketing message to what you would say if you were asked face to face. You should have the copy of your site proof read and written with a focus on the web visitor rather than yourself, so use more you’s instead of I’s or us.
I would recommend having a content managed site, so you can easily make small tweaks or changes.

Further online marketing
It is no longer just about having a web site, but how do you drive visitors to your pages.
Your business may be able to use newsletters, emails, promotions, pay per click advertising, digital ads, social media, forum activity and PR (print or online) to drive traffic to your web site.

PR
Good press relations could be critical to your business and is much more than just writing a good press release. What type of news captures the interest of your ideal customer?

Advertising
There are many types of media willing to sell you advertising space including the printed press, radio, TV and the internet.
By knowing who your likely customers are and what they read or watch, you can target your resources effectively.
Always measure the return on your investment. Consider coding your adverts as a method of tracking and establish the cost vs return. Advertising can be expensive but effective for the right business, especially for businesses creating brand awareness. If you are a small local business, then consider your local newspapers or parish magazines, that are often read in more detail due to the local interest.

Direct marketing
This method enables you to target your market with a more personal message. More of a blanket approach such as mailshots, leaflet drops, publication inserts and telemarketing. If you are selling business to business, where possible, try to obtain the name of the decision maker for the customer you are targeting and send them the communication direct. I recommend you always test with a small sample campaign and if the return is positive, then undertake a larger campaign using the same material.

Business cards and stationery
What do they say about you and your business? Are you proud of your business card? Of course your stationery needs to include all your contact details, but does the look and feel of your stationery represent your business brand?

There are many ways to market you business and create traction for your business. Explore them all without any prejudice around your personal experience, test a few and establish what marketing tactics work for you.

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