Marketing a new business? Start here.
Jessica Baldwin / Published February 10, 2023
Marketing is one of the most important success factors in launching a new business (and staying in business long-term).
New business owners typically have extensive knowledge in their industry, expertise in offering services, or have invested significantly in creating an exceptional product. However, they often struggle with getting the word out about the business.
A study by Semrush indicates that most small businesses struggle with marketing–over 63% of small businesses say they don't have enough time and resources to focus on marketing. Another 59.8% indicate that a limited budget is a significant challenge, and 50% find lead generation difficult.
Developing an effective marketing strategy for a new business can seem challenging. Learning key marketing concepts and creating a well-defined plan is essential for launching your business and seeing it thrive.
Key marketing concepts for new businesses
Marketing a startup business can be an uphill battle, as it lacks brand recognition and momentum.
Established businesses benefit from their longevity and the compounding effects of their marketing over the years. People are more likely to buy from companies they know and trust. Known businesses can launch marketing campaigns with greater ease and quicker success, capitalizing on that awareness with the audience.
New businesses require more initial effort to attract their target customers and create awareness for the brand. But don't be dismayed. Keep in mind that every successful business started right where you are today.
It's time to start making your business known with the right people.
Reach and frequency
Acquiring customers or clients depends on repeatedly reaching enough people in your target market and giving them a reason to pay attention to your brand.
Reach and frequency are essential marketing concepts for marketing your new business.
Reach is the unique number of people who've seen or heard your marketing message. The more people you reach, the more likely it is that some of them will become customers.
Business owners may become disappointed because they have a website and social media profiles, but no one is buying from them. However, this is often because they haven't reached enough people to generate sales.
Reaching lots of potential customers is necessary, but they also need to see your brand many times before they are likely to make a purchase. Frequency refers to the number of times someone sees your marketing message. Frequency helps people remember your brand and your message.
Having a high reach means that a large number of people are exposed to your marketing message. When reach is combined with a high frequency, meaning many people see your message multiple times, it becomes a powerful marketing tool.
If only a small group of people see your brand once, it will be harder to get them to buy something. It's crucial to understand the impact that reach and frequency have on your target audience and to aim for both a high reach and a high frequency.
Prospects will take many steps on their path to becoming your customer. The "customer journey" is the path they take from becoming aware of your product or service to the moment they make a purchase.
It's typically divided into three main stages–awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Awareness is the stage where people become aware of your brand. They may see an ad, hear about it from a friend, or come across it online.
Consideration is where people who are now aware of your brand start thinking about whether your product or service is right for them. They may be weighing the pros and cons, deciding if the timing is right, researching their options, etc.
Conversion is the final stage where people are ready to take action, and you want them to choose your brand. If you're successful, these people become your client or customer.
The length of the customer journey can vary greatly between businesses, depending on the product or service. More expensive offers usually require a longer customer journey. For example, someone investing in professional coaching for several thousand dollars will typically require a longer journey than someone ordering a pair of socks online.
Different individuals move through the journey at varying speeds. Some people quickly become customers, while others may take months to purchase.
Your marketing plan should include strategies to guide your audience through the journey. We'll cover more on this below.
Start your new business marketing plan
Now that we've covered essential marketing concepts, it's time to begin creating your plan.
First, define your ideal customer.
Who does your business help? Who would be most interested in your products and services? A crucial first step to creating an effective small business marketing plan is developing a persona representing your ideal customer. A persona will help you understand your potential customers' needs, wants, and interests. It will help you communicate with your audience and develop a targeted strategy.
Write out your key benefits.
Your key benefits are the reasons customers should choose your business over others. They should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
Think about what makes your product or service unique and how it solves your customer's problem. What value does it provide? How will it make their life easier?
Include the key benefits of your product and services throughout your advertising and marketing messages.
Decide on a primary call to action.
Your primary call to action is the action you want your customers to take. It could be booking a consultation, requesting a quote, subscribing to your podcast, making a purchase, etc.
Each marketing tactic you employ should help your ideal customer move closer to taking this desired action.
Set goals for the customer journey.
Once you understand the marketing concepts above and define your ideal customer and key benefits, it's time to plan your marketing tactics.
To start, set goals for each stage of the customer journey.
At the awareness stage, your goal is to get your business in front of people in your target market.
Several business marketing strategies are appropriate for the awareness stage. Here are a few examples:
Blogging and search engine optimization (SEO) – develop a blog or resources section on your website. Within your blog posts, include niche keywords your target audience is searching for. You can use tools like answerthepublic.com and seoreviewtools.com to research topics and keywords. Optimized blogs can help attract traffic to your website.
Cold calls and emails – for many businesses, the fastest way to acquire initial clients will be to implement a direct sales strategy. Create a list of prospects and reach out by phone or email. Your initial email would make the prospect "aware" of your business.
Social media – when it comes to setting up social media accounts, you should be where your target audience is. Social media posts that help your brand get discovered by new people help achieve the awareness objective.
Ads – when budget allows, advertising online or in traditional media (TV, radio, billboards, etc.) can be a great way to get in front of your target audience.
Networking – Networking in-person or online can be one way to get your business in front of potential customers.
Online directory listings – get found by getting in front of people searching for businesses like yours in online directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, and others that are relevant to your industry.
To plan your marketing activities for the awareness stage, answer these questions:
- How will I get my brand in front of my ideal customers?
- What will be their first step in the customer journey?
During the consideration stage, the goal is to keep your brand in front of the people who are now aware of it. Here's where you must frequently show up in front of the audience.
Here are a few different ways you could stay connected with your audience:
Email newsletter – email is an effective promotional tool for new businesses. Develop a lead magnet to incentivize email sign-ups (a special guide, discount, ebook, etc.). Once someone is on your email list, send helpful content to them on a set schedule. For example, you could email tips in your niche weekly.
Customer reviews and case studies – include customer reviews and case studies on your website, social media posts, or any advertising you employ. Customer testimonials and case studies can help your audience learn about your products and services and the key benefits from your existing customers' points of view. They help build trust.
Retargeting ads – platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, and more allow anyone to advertise their services. Retargeting ads can help you stay top of mind with people in the consideration stage. You can run ads to retarget people who've visited your website or interacted with your brand on those platforms.
Podcast – a podcast can be a way to get found by your audience. It's also an effective way to grow your relationship with your existing audience. If you produce quality, helpful content and cultivate regular listeners, many will consider working with you or buying your products.
Webinars – webinars are an engaging way to provide value to your audience. They can also help you build trust as you showcase your expertise.
Follow-up calls and emails – success is in the follow-up for organizations using a direct sales strategy. Frequency is achieved by forging the relationship through follow-up calls and emails.
To plan your marketing activities for the awareness stage, answer these questions:
- Once people know my brand, how can I stay engaged with them over time?
- What information do they need to understand how my products and services can help them?
At the conversion stage, your prospect is fully aware of your business, and they've been in your audience for a while. They are ready to move forward to solve their problem or fulfill a need. You want them to move forward with your brand.
Once people have been in the consideration stage for a while, they'll be more receptive to signing up for your products or services. Companies often incentivize the conversion with a special offer.
Here are a few examples of marketing efforts for the conversion stage:
Sale or discount – organizations may run a deal or offer a limited-time discount.
Bonus – Companies may provide a complimentary item (a gift, added benefit, etc.) rather than discounting a product or service.
Time or quantity limit – a cutoff date or quantity limit on purchases or new sign-ups can spur action from prospective customers. You'll often see course creators limit enrollment windows, for example.
Proposal expiry date – if you're employing a direct sales strategy, your proposal should have a "valid until" date. Imposing a deadline helps your prospects take action rather than letting the decision linger.
Marketing emails – you may shift your email messaging to be more promotional once someone receives a few newsletters. Often, this is enough to move someone from consideration to action.
To plan your marketing activities for the awareness stage, answer this question:
- How can I incentivize my audience to act?
Develop your marketing plan to match the customer journey.
To reiterate (because it is important), your marketing objectives are to:
- Attract the right audience to your brand. Maximize the number of people you can reach.
- Stay engaged with the audience until they are ready to convert. Educate them about your products and services. Ensure that you are frequently in front of your audience. (Don't spam! Balance is critical.)
- Incentivize people from the consideration stage to act. Give them a reason to buy your product or sign up for your service.
Design your marketing plan around these three stages to generate leads and sales for your business.
Most small business marketing advice is just a list of random marketing ideas–"write blog posts, run ads, post on social media channels, etc." New business owners may try one or more of these tactics and become frustrated by the lack of results. But tactics alone aren't effective without a strategy behind them.
Instead, plan specific tactics within each journey stage to achieve your goals. Understand that you'll need to reach many people and that those people will need to see your brand several times before they are ready to act.
Marketing compounds over time. Every time you get in front of your audience, you can grow brand awareness, engagement, and, eventually, acquire new customers!
Promoting a new business takes time and dedication, but it's necessary for revenue and growth. A solid marketing strategy ensures your business reaches the right people and stands out from the competition.
For more help on this topic, check out our webinar titled, "Win Customers with Your Website!"
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