For the budding entrepreneur, marketing a finished product can be a nightmare. The manpower and capital required to successfully market a product can be impossible for a tiny startup. How can a novice entrepreneur gather the resources necessary to successfully market a product?
The three initial goals of marketing should be clear to the entrepreneur.
- Establishing and increasing the customer base
- Increasing product sales per customer
- Increasing the sales of more expensive, higher-margin products per customer
Develop a Marketing Plan
Large companies usually tackle the first hurdle through an expensive advertising campaign. But let’s assume you don’t have the millions necessary to launch large scale television, print, and online media campaigns. We have to start small, with a basic marketing plan. A good marketing campaign should consist of the following:
- Target demographics
- Seasonal demand
- Advantages over competitors
- Product pricing and margins
- A simple message delivered via an effective advertising strategy
If you have trouble drafting a coherent marketing plan, you can conduct public surveys to gauge the public reaction to your products or services. Make sure your survey is given to a diverse group – in ethnicity, gender, age, income, and education level – to get the best sample. These are separated into two kinds – quantitative and qualitative. Do you want quality over quantity or vice versa? Both have distinct advantages.
- Quantitative surveys are fixed questionnaires which can be conducted face-to-face, through e-mail, or over the phone. Try to collect a large number of surveys to gauge the customer response as a kind of vote. Quantitative surveys are good for graphs and estimates.
- Qualitative surveys focus on a smaller number of people, without fixed questions. They are usually conducted as face-to-face interviews, conversations or focus groups, where the participants engage in free-form discussion about a topic. Qualitative surveys can help you get a better, more detailed response regarding your product, but can also be extremely time-consuming.
Most successful businesses use a combination of both for the best results. However, if you are pressed for time (and patience), a quantitative survey can be faster and offer similar results with far less manpower and time.
Determine Advertising Mediums and Budget
Now that you have drafted a marketing plan, calculate your advertising budget. If you’re a small business, that total is likely to be unimpressive. Here are some ways to clear that hurdle:
- Call local television and radio news stations to attempt to gain free publicity. This can be effective if you are offering a new, innovative product that hasn’t been produced before.
- Spread the word through social tools with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube ad campaigns. If you make an interesting video to advertise your product, uploading it online and allowing it to spread like wildfire can be extremely effective. Best of all, this method is mostly free.
- Contact vendors and associates to participate in co-op advertising, in which the advertising fee is shared.
- Advertise via Google AdSense or a similar ad program – these are cheaper than other forms of advertisements and are selected intelligently based on the computer user’s search preferences – which will give you a highly targeted audience.
- Award customer referrals with cash, discounts or prizes, in order to publicize your products.
These are just some ideas to help you, as a novice entrepreneur, get started in the complex world of marketing concepts. As your business expands, you can hire dedicated PR, sales and marketing teams to help you create more complex plans.