Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand and are the foundations of revenue for your business. Do not put off marketing because other activities are more important. They aren’t. If you’re not marketing and selling, you’re not:
1. Bringing in revenue
2. Getting on the radar of revenue-producing clients
3. Showing investors you’re serious about selling your services or products
And for 4 other tips check out this post from A Billion Entrepreneurs:
Here’s an important one:
Marketing, and branding are essential foundations for creating a successful business. That’s why it’s crucial to protect your intellectual property. Not just patents, but your name and your company’s name as well. That’s what goes into creating your company or your personal brand. It’s what tells your customers that everything that comes from your company can be counted on to deliver the same quality over and over, even if it’s a different product. You come to expect the same quality, service, and experience at every Starbucks you walk into no matter what city, state, or country. Can you imagine what Starbucks would have had to do to re-name, re-brand and essentially re-create itself if, say two years into the company, another company came along and said, “hey, we have that name. And we have it registered as a trademark three years ago.” That’s exactly what happened to a client of mine. After we created a beautiful logo, corporate ID package, website, sales sheets, a brochure, and convention panels, (all of which takes time, costs the client money, and wound up getting serious recognition for their brand) another company came along and sent them a cease and desist letter claiming their trademark rights. It turned out that my client, fortunately, had filed for their trademark before the challenger. Thus, it was the challenger that had to go through that whole long process of rebranding.
It’s a lot more time, energy, and money consuming to have to stop using a name or title, etc. than to do a trademark search to begin with.
Here are some other points of connection between marketing and intellectual property offered by Sharon Toerek:
Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159079107X?ie=UTF8&tag=holtzmacommun-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=159079107X
If your business is smaller than 3 people you face a whole variety of issues when making this consideration. I’ve devoted three blog entries to discussing this issue because it will arise at some point in a small businesses’ life span.
To hear some people talk about it, government RFPs are a godsend to small businesses. My answer: Not exactly. Here’s a link to an article on BNET (which is a great source in general for small businesses) that covers the topic. Read all the comments below it as well as they point out many issues surrounding government RFPs.
Here’s Holtzman Communications’ experience on this topic:
Holtzman answered an RFP a while ago, and made the first cut to the interview stage. One of the first questions Holtzman asked was, “is there an incumbent, and if so, are they applying, or if not, what happened?” The government agency refused to answer the question. Holtzman wound up winning the contract — $100,000 over a three year period. There was a clause in the contract saying that the agency didn’t need to spend the amount allotted. And that’s exactly what happened. Holtzman wound up billing approximately $5,000 out of that $100,000 contract over the three year period. If there was an incumbent, they now knew what happened to them and why the agency didn’t answer that question. Furthermore, the agency told the company not to plan vacations for that August because they were sure a huge amount of work was going to happen. Not a dollar’s worth of work came through that month.
The government frowns upon this kind of behavior on the part of its agencies. Clearly, the agency didn’t care about wasting their own time, but this was a time and money expenditure for Holtzman that could have been put to better use.
I’m talking about your marketing mix … or lack thereof ….
So many startups and entrepreneurs are trying to do it on the cheap … so they say, “I only need a website” …. Or, “I need to do PR first”. Wrong. So here’s some questions to think about in response to your comments:
- If you are only putting up a website or doing PR, what’s your value proposition?
- What’s your messaging platform?
- Have you established a brand?
- Do you know who your audiences are?
- Do you have a logo?
- A name for your company?
- Are they trademarked?
- Do you have a PR folder/press kit?
- Are you starting to get my point?
No one way of promoting your company is “THE ANSWER”. In the 90’s the big ad agencies and companies had Branding departments. Branding was the answer. It’s not. It’s part of the marketing mix. Then it was PR. Because it’s cheaper than advertising (allegedly). Also part of the marketing mix. Now it’s social media. Also part of the marketing mix.
None of these efforts can produce results if it lives in a vacuum. They must all be part of one integrated marketing plan, no matter how small your company is (even if it’s only you). And a lot of it can be done at no cost or cheaply … like social media – Linked In, Facebook, Twitter. And don’t forget keeping your website up to date – it’s your first impression and if it’s old and has out-of-date stuff on it, it’s not good.
So remember, you can create an integrated marketing program for yourself – remember the messaging and branding need to be consistent. And that way you will actually be saving money and getting more impact for the dollars you do spend.
Posted in Business Start-up, Customer-focused market research, Customer-focused marketing, Life/business experience, Public Relations
Tagged Enterpreneurs, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, pr campaigns, sales, small business, startups
Everyone is stressed this holiday season. The opportunity is ripe for both shoppers and store personnel to be rude and abusive (particularly when stores hire part time or seasonal help who haven’t been properly trained). But there’s a very simple way to break out of this cycle and turn a potentially bad experience into a memorable one – which is something we all want. Check out Michael Hess’ post on CBS News Moneywatch about how you say something during the holiday season being crucial to creating a good customer experience. Here’s one example he gives:
Say this: “Let me help you with that” or “How can I help you?”
Not this: “You need help?”
This is great advice not only for the holidays but every day. And this practice can be used in writing business documents, such as business plans as well. For instance,
Don’t say this: “Our sales goal was to increase business 40% this year but we only made it to 15%”.
Say this: “We increased business 15% this year and are working towards a 40% sales goal.”
The second phrasing puts a positive spin on the situation. Just as importantly, it tells the reader that you are in control of your business or situation. The reader, particularly an investor, is going to look more favorably upon this positively stated situation.
In the long run, this kind of speaking can change the way you think towards a more positive outlook in general.
For other examples, check out the link to the blog.
Customers, as a group, are not all going to be interested in your product for the same reason at the same time – even if they need it or want it. So what’s the dynamics of reaching your customer? This is important to know because it will help you focus your selling and marketing efforts to the right group, with the right message at the right time. There are four basic customer groups as shown below. This post will focus on the top of the pyramid — #1 – The Early Adopter.
Early Adopters are a critical group of people who will immediately want to buy, wear, or use your product. I was an Early Adopter of SKYPE. I had to let friends know about it – friends who I thought are much more tech trendy than me. You know who they are. They are often the first people on the block with the latest gadget or wearing the latest fashion. They can’t wait to show it to you and explain how it works or tell you why it’s going to be trendy in a few weeks or months. These people are always on the lookout for the latest thing. In corporations, Early Adopters often have the ear of the CEO. They are seen as authorities and, as such, help build your product’s credibility by providing evidence that your product works in the real world. Every product or service has its Early Adopters. You see them at trendy new restaurants and wearing new fashions. The pyramid shows that Early Adopters are the smallest market. They are, therefore, the most economical to reach. Like the guy on your block, they are willing to take the risk with something new. They also expect kink that come with a new technology and are much more forgiving of them. They are the authorities and trend-setters that introduce your product to the next group of Adopters called the Professional Adopters. I’ll talk about them next week.
Chart and content from my book, Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.
A version of this blog was previously published at the FIT Blog, Hot Topics, under Small Business. I am on the faculty there where I teach licensing.