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Elephant in the room

Do your research before starting your business

Do your research before starting a business

How useful is your marketing plan?

Marketing research is important, but there are new lines of thinking in the marketing industry that suggest we may place too much importance on this research. I can see their point. Creating a marketing plan leaves little room for the ever-changing landscape of your industry, demographic and anything else that you can’t possibly predict. This does not mean that you shouldn’t create that plan, but it does mean that it should be fluid.

No matter how well you plan, you will always discover new information along the way, and you have to be flexible enough to change course when you need to. I think it’s good to have a marketing plan that can gradually morph to accommodate new information. As much as we prepare in the initial stages of starting a business, sometimes you have to dig in to find that winning strategy. It is only by experience that you can find the flaws, and the gems, in that well thought out proposal.

“Address the elephant in the room before it makes itself known. By then, it’s too late” Janice Guadagno, JG Lea Marketing

It is also possible that you may grow in a direction you didn’t expect, or have an epiphany that leads you in an unexpected direction. Be flexible and know what you are willing to tolerate financially and from a time investment perspective.

Here are some things to consider when starting out. You really should know the basics below at a very minimum, and if you are looking for financial backing, you will definitely need more detail.

Here is the marketing research breakdown…

Your Marketing Plan

The marketing plan assesses the industry, client’s needs, as well as products and services. This plan is built upon demographic and psychographic research. Knowledge is power, and knowing where your demographic spends their time on and offline is essential to your success. For example, it is important to invest your time creating quality content on the appropriate social media platforms that your demographic gravitates to. This stretches your business dollar, and is a wise investment of your time. The overall marketing plan is made of segments including demographics, psychographics, the industry, suppliers, products, services, pricing, as well as competitive and strategic analysis.

Demographics

Demographics are the very foundation of everything that follows in the world of marketing. Demographics provide the basics, including:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Ethnicity
  4. Knowledge of languages
  5. Disabilities
  6. Mobility
  7. Home ownership
  8. Employment status
  9. Location
  10. Education

Ultimately, businesses need to investigate the demographic they are targeting in order to find potential clients. The more you understand your potential demographic, the more successful your reach will be. Without this basic understanding, your message can become too fragmented and lost among the vast number of advertisements, which can be very costly to you.

Fine tuning and targeting your market successfully can help break through the barriers. Today, there are many obstacles, with the most obvious one being the number of advertisements people are exposed to on an ongoing basis. You are potentially trying to stand out among 2,000 to tens of thousands of advertisements that people see daily. Advertisements are littered throughout the internet, on billboards, in taxis, through direct mail and even in the bathroom stall. You need to break through the advertising noise in your industry.

Psychographics

Psychographics takes the knowledge of your demographic further. You delve beyond the basics into:

  1. Understanding beliefs
  2. Personality types
  3. Values
  4. Attitudes
  5. Interests and lifestyles
  6. Culture

This provides unique insights into any demographic being analyzed. You can then reach people where they already are in terms of interests. This can prove beneficial when it comes to a wide range of considerations from the promotional products you choose, to the types of social media posts you create to engage your audience.

Do your research in other areas as well…

Industry

It is important to assess the industry as a whole to determine benchmark standards and fluctuations. This allows you to figure out whether revenue highs and lows are experienced across your industry landscape, or whether they are unique to your business. This creates a realistic picture of where your business stands among your competitors.

Suppliers

A comprehensive assessment would include an examination of the vendors and suppliers you will need to successfully grow your business. It is wise to treat your suppliers with the same care that you would your clients. These are the people that have the potential to help your business grow, or hinder that growth, based on the type of relationship you choose to build. Never underestimate the power of strong relationships with suppliers, whether they are providing products or services, it is important to keep it positive. They can provide future insights in your industry that you may not be aware of until it’s too late. They can also play a big role in expanding your business, and should be treated with respect.

Products, Services and Pricing

A thorough analysis of your products and services is important, including a comparison to the competitors. Consider your pricing and how you are going to differentiate yourself from others in your industry. If you decide to include a quality of service that is absent among competitors, then pricing can be higher than the companies you are competing against. If they are choosing to stand out based on price, let them. Basing a business model on low prices alone is challenging and not a long-term sustainable, quality model. Haggling over prices, and services is not a strong basis for a business relationship. Starting a client relationship based on this model provides a shaky, and cracked foundation right from the beginning. When the focus is on the cost, and not on the future goals of the business, everyone loses.

If competitors choose to make it all about pricing and advertise that on an ongoing basis, don’t spend a minute of your time worrying about it. A successful business model does not depend solely on low pricing. It devalues your services, and reduces the time you are able to devote to that client, and ultimately compromises the quality of your service.

A Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis does the obvious by examining your most prominent competitors. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is conducted with consideration for each competitor. Investigate not only their presence but the quality of their products, content and services. It’s also crucial to determine direct versus indirect competitors, and possible future players. This gives you the entire picture, which then makes it easier to determine the future direction of your company.

Strategic Analysis

The marketing strategy provides a map of the goals that you want to achieve through your marketing efforts. It also outlines how to deliver products and services that will make your business stand out. Things to consider are:

  1. Direct Marketing – sales letters, brochures, flyers
  2. Advertising – Print Media, Directories, Social Media
  3. Trade Shows
  4. Industry conferences
  5. Updating skills
  6. Website
  7. Guerilla Marketing Strategies – low-cost, but creative promotions

Branding, and Positioning

Determining what you want to communicate about your company and the values you embody is part of your brand. It is important to figure out how brand awareness will increase and what steps need to be taken to accomplish this. Also important is finding the appropriate positioning of your brand in the industry market and creating a step by step plan to accomplish this.

Wrapping it up

Your marketing plan should be an ongoing, fluid document. Starting your business, and growing personally from taking on this challenge, can bring new insights that you cannot initially anticipate. To be successful in business, you need to adapt successfully from something that does not work, to something that does. This keeps you ahead of the game and gives you the tools you need to put your time and energy into areas that are worth the effort.

 

 

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JG Lea Marketing

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