Marketing a new business

Half of UK businesses don’t have a marketing plan. Here’s how to ensure you get ahead of the pack

You’ve done the hard work of up getting your business on the road – now you must ensure you’re seen. Marketing a new business is one of the hardest things to do. To have the greatest chance of success, you’ll need to research the market, develop a marketing plan and target your audience.

Set your marketing objectives

To market your new business successfully, you first need to know what success looks like and what you’re trying to achieve.

Perhaps you want to increase traffic to your website, increase your sales pipeline as quickly as possible or position the brand in a particular area.

>See also: How to market a physical therapy practice

Prioritise your wider new business objectives and then see how marketing can help achieve those. Examples of these include increasing brand awareness, improving reputation, launching a product and increasing revenue or profits.

Whatever the objectives are, make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (and relevant) and time bound.  

The importance of research

Surprisingly, this next step is a one many businesses skip.

Its impact when done right however, can be significant. Market research won’t just allow you to understand the market as it is but can shape a USP by spotting any gaps within it. In other words, it gives validation for why your business exists.

As Chris Peach, research director at research agency Walnut Unlimited sums up: “Believing in what you offer is important, and showing you are passionate about it can be very compelling, but success will come from convincing many others about the benefit of buying from you, so knowing what it is that they think makes you unique and better is crucial.”

How to conduct market research

How can you conduct market research for your business? One port of call is Google. It’s possible to understand the demand for a product or service by seeing how many searches on Google it generates.

Another method is to conduct surveys. Find which online communities your target audience reside and conduct polls for almost immediate insights.

>See also: How to market your gaming app

You can also go face-to-face. Conducting interviews can help shape your customer personas – what interests they have, what motivates them, what they think of your business and your competitors. Similarly, focus groups can provide instant feedback on how you to improve your product or service.

Pricing research of the competition can also show if your price-point and brand image line up.

“Research is essential to our process,” Tom Edington of market research and design studio The Yard Creative says. “Research enables us to truly understand what will resonate with our clients’ target audience to ensure the creative solutions we provide stand out within their marketplace and connect to the consumer.

“Our preferred method of research is to always pair primary and secondary research. Conducting secondary research whilst analysing our clients’ data enables us to cast our net wide to really understand the market and our clients existing and target consumers.

“Having an understanding of our client’s market, sector and consumer then allows us to be very focused with our questioning when we move into qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys.”

New business marketing strategy

To market successfully, you will need to create a marketing strategy first to align marketing efforts with the overarching aims of your new business.

The marketing strategy should include the four Ps of marketing (also known as the marketing mix): product, price, place, and promotion.

“The most important part of a marketing strategy is product and price,” Tom Welbourne of The Good Marketer explains. “Promotion, place and people can be tweaked accordingly as time goes on, i.e., you can target a new audience through ads or run a payday sale.

“For start-ups, consider starting with three or four products to give customers variety and to generate a good average order value [AOV].

“Generally, start-ups think lower-priced products will be more successful, but often, that’s not the case. We encourage start-ups to aim for an AOV of around £40-£50 to be profitable on the first order.”

Business consultancy and accountancy firm Xeinadin was the fastest-growing business Britain this year and its director Paul Whitney says having a marketing strategy was crucial to its rapid success.

“Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy,” he says. “Continually monitor the effectiveness of your chosen media marketing mix and measure your return against your budget. If something is not working as you would have anticipated, don’t carry on doing it, stop the activity and test different messaging and media and compare the results.

“Most business owners approach marketing with the goal of merely getting their name out into the wider world. However, we would advise that the message you attach to your name is much more important.

“If your message doesn’t resonate with your ideal customers and is the same as the competition, why would they choose you?”

Building your new business marketing plan

You’ll then need a clear and concise marketing plan. This should include the brand proposition – which will outline the reason for being – and the communication plan on how you get your message across.

The brand proposition includes the purpose of the brand and who the target customer is. Why should they care? What are their priorities when it comes to choosing their product or service? You should also distinguish here why you’re different from others in the market.

The communication plan will outline whether you will target through social media, email, events, direct marketing and what your tone of voice will be for all these.

To outline the importance of using the right words, Peach says: “As a small business you may have seen bundled insurance packages for say ‘hairdressers’ – it recognises that business owners want to focus on their core activity and so this bundling saves them time and cognitive effort.”

The benefit of producing a marketing plan include:

  • Defines your target market
  • What your business USP is
  • Who the competition is
  • Ensures marketing budget is spent efficientl
  • Tone of voice is consistent across the brand
  • Provides a strategy on how to reach potential customers

Finally, ensure you have the document saved somewhere for everyone to see and adhere to. This is good not only for ensuring future decisions are made in line with the brand but aims and objectives can be crossed off and updated as you go.

> See also: How to write a marketing plan

Targeting your customers

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you will need to market to them. Customer profiles are a great way of understanding the communities your audience gets involved in.

After that, you need to engage with them, with one obvious method being social media.

“We would first recommend a small business identify social media platforms where their audience is on,” Jack Shepherd, co-founder of The Social Shepherd says. “Don’t try to create content for every single social media platform. Focus your energy on one or two social media platforms in the beginning.”

Short-form video performs very well across all platforms, so this should be the priority in a strategy for any small business, he says.

“Video content is best for reaching new users, as reels and TikToks have the best discoverability on social media right now, and then use Instagram stories and static posts [single images and carousels] to nurture your audience.

“Once a small business has tested different pieces of content and has begun to understand what resonates with its audience, it’s time to use paid social to distribute those top-performing pieces of content further. With organic reach only getting you so far, we always recommend including an ad strategy to get in front of your ideal customers.

“You’ll need to consider showing prospecting audiences something more educational about your product or service, whereas if you’re retargeting audiences that already know your brand, you’ll want to deliver content to them which builds social proof and trust to get them to convert.”

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Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various...