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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Essential marketing tips for start-ups

So you want to launch a new business? Well, you won’t be alone! There were 5.8 million small UK businesses at the start of 2019. But in this day and age of large-scale companies such as Amazon, which has shifted how most major retailers operate, starting a small business can still be daunting.

Don’t worry - this blog will give you an introduction to basic marketing for start-ups, to get you on the way to success.

Product/market fit

You need to be sure that the product you’re creating, whether that product is services, software or consumer items, has a market that wants to buy it. Your offering might be a stroke of genius, with a team behind it that works like an orchestra, but without a market for that product, all that is useless.

Product/market fit has been simply described by Marc Andreesen, entrepreneur and founder of Netscape, as ‘being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market’. You need customers who are demanding a product that you can provide.

Forbes Magazine describes product/market fit as a ‘nirvana’ where products are ‘ripped out of your hands by eager customers’.

Market research

How can you figure out if your start-up has a market with adequate size and growth potential? This is the time to do your research, to make sure your start-up isn’t launching into an empty market.

Market research is usually split into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’. Primary information is first-hand information from your customers, using surveys, forums, questionnaires, and interviews, for example. This type of research is useful for when you’re trying to refine your buyer personas.

Secondary information is accessible data available from public reports, market statistics and industry content.

Your target audience

Figuring out your core audience is one of the most important things to get right. It will mean you’re not wasting time or money trying to sell to the wrong people. Narrowing down your market into a reachable audience will drastically improve your chances of meeting their needs.

You need to identify buyer characteristics such as:

  • age
  • location
  • gender
  • industry
  • ethnicity
  • challenges - what problem you’re trying to solve

This can help to refine your idea of who you’re actually creating for and selling to. Using a strategy like market segmentation can really help target the right demographic.

Studies show that customers are more likely to spread word-of-mouth reviews now than ever. This means that if you’re identifying the problems that your target audience are likely to have, and how your product meets their needs over other products, they’re likely to share this with more and more interested parties.

Market size and competition

Understanding the size of your market, and how the existing competition is doing in terms of satisfying your target audience’s needs, is crucial. It’s important to focus on direct competitors - companies that address the same consumer needs as you do, in a similar way.

While obsessing over the competition will do you no good, it’s important to understand where your competitors are doing well, and where you can get a leg up on them. What are their sales like? Do they have a social media presence? Who do they target? How do they position their products?

Your value proposition

Essentially, this means figuring out how your product can meet the needs of the customer better than others that are out there. Get to know the advantages your product has, and how these can help deliver value to your customers.

It needs to be compelling, true, and a promise of the value that your product will bring.

Your pricing

Have you ever looked at a product or service and thought: “There’s no way I’m paying that”? The last thing you want is your target audience doing the same about your offering - so you need to develop a pricing strategy that works.

Here, your competitor research will come in very handy for comparison.

Acquisition strategy

How are your customers going to find out about you and your products? Generating leads is a key consideration.

One way to acquire new leads is to create valuable online content such as an ebook, and give this away to subscribers who sign up for your marketing communications. People are much more willing to exchange their personal details for a product they view as valuable and that could benefit them.

Google Ads and Facebook advertising are also great ways of acquiring customers, given the highly targeted algorithms Facebook uses, and the benefit of appearing in customer searches on Google.

Online optimisation

Finally, when you promote your business online, using a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer can be massively helpful to get your search engine optimisation (SEO) up to scratch. If no one can actually find your products, then all your hard work leading up to this is wasted.

If you’re spending time on content marketing, you want to make sure that your content includes the keywords that your target audience are searching for. Keyword research is so important to not only develop a consistent brand message, but to get your content optimised for search engines.

Copyright 2019. Featured post made possible by Tom Welbourne of The Good Marketer, a marketing agency in London which drives more traffic, generates conversions and increases sales for small- to medium-sized businesses

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