Starting a new business is a bold and exciting process! It takes a lot of courage to jump out on one’s own. Sometimes your hand is forced by a corporate layoff and difficulty finding another job. Sometimes you are pursuing a dream. And sometimes you get mad working for someone else and just aren’t going to take it any more.
Whatever your motivation, the second (maybe first) most important decision you can make is to focus on getting paying customers. Without paying customers, your new business idea is just an idea, not a real business. Many start-ups think all they have to do is just open for business and the customers will come. That rarely happens. The vast majority of new businesses fail – mostly for lack of income, caused by lack of marketing.
Here are 12 important steps you need to take to market your new business on a tight budget, based on years of helping all kinds of new businesses get up and going:
1. Develop a targeted marketing strategy. Whether you have a comprehensive business plan or not, planning your marketing instead of just jumping into it, is a wise path to take. In fact these 12 steps right here can work for your business, but need to be customized. Key questions to be answered in a realistic marketing strategy are:
a. Who exactly are my target customers (markets)?
b. What are their needs that my business is going to address?
c. How do I know that those needs are not being met by current providers?
d. What am I going to offer that is clearly better than current providers?
e. Do I have a sustainable competitive advantage?
f. What is the best way to communicate with my target customers (markets)?
g. Do I have the money to pay for that?
2. Create a unique brand name. If your name is John Smith, don’t name your company after you. Come up with a name that is unique, so that when you Google it “in quotes” to be exact, nothing else comes up with that exact name. Such a unique name is more valuable than gold and vital in today’s Internet-driven marketplace.