The Twelve Days of Marketing for Entrepreneurs
In the world of tech startups there is a common phenomenon: developer entrepreneurs who can write great apps, build slick sites and develop cool technology… but who forget that the work of finding and acquiring a paying customer is a whole separate discipline. It’s what we often refer to as The Field of Dreams problem. For as great a saying as it is, “If you build it, they will come” is not a sound go-to-market strategy.
Debra Murphy from Masterful Marketing recently started a year-end marketing series to help small businesses re-examine their marketing plans in preparation for 2010. While her focus is on walking small business through updating their marketing plans to reflect changes to their business, the process can apply to those just getting started as well. Her very tactical list includes the following steps:
- Current client profile – has it changed?
- Goals – which ones did you accomplish?
- Service or product offerings – do they need to be redefined?
- Why people hire you or pay for your services – what makes you different?
- Messages – do they still work?
- Website content and other marketing materials – are they consistent?
- Marketing activities for the past year – what worked and what didn’t?
- Online reputation or presence – do you exist?
- Action plan – what activities will you be using to market your business?
Obviously some of the details of how you would proceed through these steps are different the first time than they would be during an annual re-evaluation, but it’s a great list that all small business owners could afford to spend at least a little bit of time considering.
The couple of specific things that I would add are often particularly applicable to new businesses just getting started:
- Competitors – who are they and what lessons can you learn from their marketing?
- Resources – what do you have, what can you get and what do you know you need?
- Skills – do you need training, outside expertise or just some study time?
One of the reasons I most love working with entrepreneurs is that tend to be very optimistic — sometimes to their own detriment. Doing something yourself is great, if you are good at it. But bringing in some help, even on a brief consultative basis, is invaluable if it means you can better target a solution with more precision and less waste. Unless you have a day job and are just getting your business started on the side, most entrepreneurs do not have the time or financial flexibility to just let customers find them all by themselves. So be surgical, be deliberate and be willing to get help if that’s what you need.
Entrepreneurs will often recognize the value to expert advice when it comes to legal or tax matters, but they are frequently willing to cut corners when it comes to marketing. It is easy to forget that, unless you have a successful marketing strategy bringing you customers in the first place, you aren’t going to have much need for your legal or tax help.
Alora Chistiakoff is an entrepreneur, content strategist and project manager who has been developing online business and technology for startups for more than a decade. She co-owns The Indigo Heron Group, Inc., a content strategy firm in Austin, Texas.