Marketing Strategies: A Practical Guide for Your New Business

You may pay your bills just once a week but marketing your business is something you do every day. There are opportunities throughout the day, the week, the month, to promote your business, helping it gain visibility and bringing you new clients. While there are specific marketing strategies you can undertake to push your business forward, there are opportunities you can seize when least expected to market your business.

As you formulate your marketing plan, consider these key elements of marketing:

1. Finding Your Niche

What differentiates you from your competition will be one of your key selling points in enticing customers to buy from you instead of your competitor.

2. Targeting Your Customers

Who are your customers? Are they individual consumers or businesses? Is your customer single or married? What is the age range of the people who will buy your product? Once you come up with a target, that suggests where and how to find those buyers.

3. Market Research

To find out who your potential customers are and what they need, try an informal polling of your friends and relatives. Or you can gather your competitor's materials to review. You might even try to get informational interviews from people who are at companies that will eventually be your customers.

Here are a few sources where you can find information on your industry:

  • Trade Associations (find yours in Gale's Directory of Associations)
  • The Public Library
  • Specialized Libraries (ie. Small Press Library, 43rd St.)
  • NY American Marketing Association (212 687- 3280)

4. Marketing Communications

a) "When you say hello"
Don't underestimate the power of a first impression. When you meet someone and they ask what you do, give an answer that communicates a lot about your business.

b) "When you send out your bills"
Use your bills as an opportunity to remind your customers how pleased they were with your service. Put a promotional slogan on your bill or use the blank space to promote an upcoming opportunity with your company.

c) "Writing letters to the editor"
Underscore your expertise by responding to an article in the newspaper by writing a letter to editor. Readers of your published letter are reminded of your company.

Here are a few strategies you can plan and undertake:

1) Advertising -- announce your product/service to the appropriate audience in a print or broadcast vehicle. The advantage is, you can target your audience. The disadvantage is ads can be expensive and you have to budget for ad design and production as well as space costs. The media kits of magazines and radio stations can provide information on the market and give you marketing ideas. As an advertiser, you may be eligible for merchandising, a bonus from the magazine or radio station to give your ad campaign additional mileage, such as counter cards or sampling opportunities.

2) Public Relations -- A public relations campaign may be a lower cost way to achieve placement in your target publications. What magazines/newspapers are your target customers reading? Radio/tv shows? Consider targeting these publications/shows for a public relations message.

You'll need to prepare a press kit which may include some or all of the following:

  • Fact Sheet on company
  • Press release(s) (one or more with different target publications in mind.)
  • Company brochure
  • Bio of President
  • Mission Statement/Corporate Philosophy
  • Photo, color slides, camera ready logos
  • Interview with the President/Company Findings (ready-to-be published article)
  • Previous Press Clips
  • Awards
  • Client List
  • Letters of Recommendation/Congratulations
  • Other pages related to your industry (ie menus if you're a caterer)

3) Direct Mail -- For individual mailings and mass mailings, you should have a well written introductory letter about your services or send out postcard reminders about your company in general or about upcoming special events.

4) Networking -- Attend professional events, meet people, and get their business card; follow up with a letter or phone call. These people may become your customers or give referrals.

5) Online marketing -- a website can draw Internet surfers to your business, if your product is something that lends itself to being sold or promoted on the web. Email is a very convenient way to get to the decision maker and gets a faster response than a mailed letter. You can also do research online by looking at your potential client's website to learn more about them or joining listservs, online mailing lists, to learn more about what's happening in your industry. To learn more about the internet, contact these organizations for meeting times, classes and networking events: Webgrrls has chapters all over the world of women interested in new media (212 642-8012). New York New Media/Cybersuds sponsors networking events for people interested in new media (212 459-4649).

6) Sampling -- This is particularly appropriate if your product is brownies, but can work for a variety of goods and services.

7) Newsletters -- a company newsletter serves as an informational piece as well as a reminder to your clients about your area of expertise. You may want to send a simple 1-2 page newsletter to your customers twice a year or every quarter.

8) Community Relations -- By volunteering at community events or donating goods or services in your company's name, you spread good will while you earning a good name for your business.

9) Multicultural Marketing -- "minority" consumers, now becoming the new majority, are a potential target for your marketing efforts.

These are but a few of the infinite ways you can market your new business. And marketing is so much more fun than paying your bills.

Lisa Skriloff is president of Multicultural Marketing Resources, a NYC-based marketing firm, and publisher and editor-in-chief of Multicultural Marketing News, a bi-monthly newsletter covering marketing activities of women and minority-owned firms and the corporations that market to these consumers. Contact info: 332 Bleecker St. Suite G41, NY, NY 10014, phone 212-242-3351, fax 212-691-5969, email: infobrokr1@aol.com or at www.inforesources.com.



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