Starting a New Business? Here Is Your Marketing Checklist

The idea of starting a business is very tempting for many of us for different reasons: you have a great idea or an opportunity that you want to take full advantage of. You want to supplement your income. You want be your own boss. You find that being on your own is more challenging and rewarding than working for somebody else. This two-part post aims to provide new entrepreneurs with a marketing to-do list for successfully launching their business. Part 1 focuses on the first steps: crafting the differentiation strategy and developing a slogan.

Craft the differentiation strategy. The foundation of every successful business is identifying the elements that make it different from its competitors. The biggest challenge any new business has is getting customers. Why would a customer do business with you, a newcomer, and not with an established brand? Start your research with your competitors. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, how they are perceived by their clientele, which you are trying to attract. Look at their websites, analyze their slogans, call their distributors, read customer reviews, forums, and books. If you have the budget hire a marketing research company to do a Brand Audit study.

Once you mapped out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and the word(s) that they own in the mind of the customers, establish you differentiation idea ideally by going into the opposite direction. If your competitor is a “one-stop shop” be the “specialist”, if he’s “multinational” be “local”, if he’s “old and established” be “new and fresh”. The more you focus your new business on a specific word or benefit the more qualified customers you will attract. Avoid positioning yourself on points of parity such as “great customer service”, “your employees make the difference”, ”quality is our job one”.

Create a powerful slogan. The slogan (or tagline) should be the condensed version of your differentiation strategy. Use plain language to express your ideas and avoid the temptation of making it too short. If a slogan is too short it becomes meaningless, which is not good for a new business that nobody knows anything about. In my opinion the following slogans are meaningless: Volvo-For life, Acura-Advance, Mr. Transmission-Hey Mister you’re a friend of mine (the name Mr. Transmission is great). Examples of good slogans: “The best or nothing”-Mercedes-Benz, “The ultimate driving experience”-BMW, “A crown for every achievement”-Rolex, Better ingredients-better pizza (Papa John’s pizza).

Once you have identified the differentiating idea and supporting elements that will set your new business apart from competitors and summarize them into a powerful slogan it is time to communicate with your target audience.

Develop you brand’s visual identity. If you think of your brand as a person then your brand’s visual identity is the person’s exterior appearance (hair style, clothing, etc.). The main elements that you need to work on are the logo, colours, fonts, and visual clues that make you brand visually distinctive. The brand identity has to match your positioning, otherwise there will be a disconnect between your brand’s personality and its exterior appearance.

Develop your communication tools. There are many ways of communicating with your potential customers in today’s environment: catalogs, flyers, websites, product samples, product presentations, etc. My advice for new businesses with tight marketing budgets is not to spread their resources too thin. Focus instead on the tools that are mandatory for your business and make use of them wisely.

Communicate your message consistently. There is no magic recipe when it comes to choosing the right communication channel(s). That’s where having an in-depth profile of your target clientele plays a critical role-you can then make assumptions and allocate your communication dollars efficiently. The good news is that the cost of delivering your message has decreased dramatically from the days when television and radio dominated the communication landscape.

In conclusion, if I have to summarize everything in three words, what I would recommend is: be different, be focused and be consistent. Good luck!

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