- Identify and research your market.
When you created your business plan (let's hope you did this!), you should have also identified your target market and some initial ways in which you planned to market your services. Review those people/companies and learn more about them. Spend time researching what they do, and who their competitors are. You may find that there is more potential business for you and your products or services than was initially thought.
- Determine the best methods for reaching the people within that market.
Put yourself into the mindset of one of your potential clients or customers. What kinds of products or services are they needing or lacking, and why might they want yours? Look at your own competitors. What is their website like? How do they market themselves? Is it effective, or not? Then, identify the biggest selling point that you can use to differentiate yourself from your competitors, and build on that within your materials.
- Determine the look and feel, as well as the amount of information, you want to present in sales materials.
Sometimes you will want to give potential customers a full disclosure of information and costs up front, and sometimes only enough to entice them to contact you for more information. It depends upon the type of customer you are trying to sell to, the industry you are in, and how people in that sector normally do business and purchase products or services. In general, the smaller the business and the cheaper the product, the more information customers will want to know up front. The larger the corporation and the pricier your product or services, the less information you may have to present.
- Decide how you want to reach your target market.
Is an email blast the best way to reach your potential customers? A flier? A well-thought out web campaign? A direct mail piece or card? An on-site visit or event of some kind, where you can distribute business information and meet with customers one on one? It is important to figure out what type of information your customers want to receive, and how they might want to receive it, before you actually try to create those materials. Skipping this step may mean that all of the hard work and money spent on your direct mail campaign results in customers throwing the piece straight into the trash, because maybe their business model doesn't require them to attend to unknown envelopes.
- Create targeted, top notch materials for dissemination.
Don't skimp on this step. A lot of small businesses and larger corporations alike try to save money on the design and content of their marketing materials by hiring cheap outside help, or by having whomever they feel is the most qualified person at their business create them. But remember, your materials are a huge investment in your business. A small investment up front will generally not bring large returns later. Your materials function in one of two ways: to give a great first impression and hook the client, or to provide a reminder of your products and services and an incentive to come back. It's important to create good, well-written and well-planned information within your market.
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