“If I build it, they will come, right?” This popular saying has been proven to be incorrect almost all of the time.
The actual answer is no! I frequently speak with clients who truly believe once they are open for business, customers are going to flood their operation and they will turn a profit from day one. Regardless of how innovative your product or how amazing your service is, a lack of awareness to your target market will end your entrepreneurial dream before it ever begins.
Step one for any business should be completing a needs assessment for the product or service. Have you completed research to provide evidence of a need for your offerings? If there is no data showing consumer interest for your product or service, why climb on a sinking ship?
To increase your business’s chance at being successful, an effective marketing plan is a necessity. This plan does not have to be created by an expensive marketing firm or have to be the fifty page document which many entrepreneurs mistake it for. It simply, but concisely needs to address the market your product or service will be targeting along with specific tactics and goals you want to achieve.
Why is a plan important to your startup? With the large amount of competition in today’s market and the multiple outlets which consumers receive their information; it is crucial to have a plan which identifies your direct market and targets your ideal customer. The more awareness you can raise inside your target market about your business, the higher the chance they will give you a shot.
Now, who is your target market? This is the one person or type of business which will want or is in need of your product on a regular basis. Just because everyone can use your product or service does not mean they will. Everyone can use a boat but not everyone wants or can afford one. So, be specific on who can and will want your product. Increased information on your target demographic will allow you to produce a more effective marketing plan. Narrow it down by specific demographics such as age, sex, income level and other key factors in which your business targets.
Once your target market is established you will need further research on your specific geographical target boundaries. Is your target a certain town, county or state? Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget it is going to be important for you to focus your awareness efforts in the correct area. So would you advertise your boat business in a town which is not near a large body of water? Most likely the answer is probably not.
Once you have determined your target market and their geographic location, how will you increase their awareness of your business? This is an extremely difficult challenge for any business startup. You will want to develop a specific plan on how to reach your target market and secure them as future customers. You can develop that plan with the assistance of your ISBDC advisor.