The following article is a guest post by Bryan Cochand, a freelance writer for Adobe.
As an entrepreneur with a risk-taking spirit, you’ve begun the steps to start your own business. However, before you get too far in the process, start to think about and make plans for marketing your business. Going through this process first will help you make sure you have a large enough target market to fit the niche you are trying to fill. Somewhere along the line, you will be trying to raise capital through loans, grants or investments, and you should include the amount of money needed for marketing start up costs in your proposals.
Determine Your Target Market and Niche
Before you even decided to start your own business, you were probably thinking about the niche you wanted to fill and the people that would fill that niche. Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you determine whether your target niche and market are relevant. As much as resources permit, you should conduct formal or informal market research to find the answers.
- Is my product or service something that people need or want?
- Is it something they can get from another business?
- Would people choose my product or service over a similar business? Is it different enough? Is it
more cost effective? Is it more convenient?
- What type of people would most likely choose my product or service over a similar business? (This is your target market)
- What are your target market’ s characteristics? What is their income, location, education, ability to find and buy from my business (technological ability if on the internet, location if a store front), etc.
- Is my target market large enough and capable of making my business successful?
- If you can’ t answer yes to the last question with confidence, keep brainstorming for more relevant business ideas; if you can, you’ re likely to have a successful business, so keep the process going.
Find the Perfect Name
Your business name is your number one marketing and branding tool, so choose wisely. It should be something unique but also understandable and memorable. Find a name that fits these characteristics:
- Clearly depicts what you do. At first glance, people should know what your company does.
Make sure it is different enough from other companies in your niche that people won’ t confuse
you with another business, and definitely do your research to be sure you are not copying another
- Incites Customer Interest. Cause the customer choose you over competitors by finding a
name that makes you stand out.
- Easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. Creative names can be unique and fun, but if noone can spell or pronounce it, they’re most likely not going to remember it either. If you have an idea for a name, test it out. Say it out loud and have others try to spell it. Write it down for other people and ask them to pronounce it. Carry on with your conversation and ask them to recall the name 10 minutes later. Does it pass the test? Avoid using an acronym, as it will be hard for people to remember what it stands for.
- Universal. Most companies, whether you plan it that way or not, are global because they are on the Internet, so choose a name that people anywhere can relate to and understand.
- Looks to the future. Naming your business after yourself may seem personal and friendly, but it’s not going to fly if you decide you want to sell the company someday. Be careful not to choose names that follow current trends either, as we all know how quickly trends can change.
Develop a Brand
Once you have identified your niche and how your business will uniquely fill the needs of your target market, you will need to define your brand. Using ideas from your business plan, craft a one-line statement that describes your company. Think specifically about the impression that you want to leave on potential customers. Based on this, create a logo, tagline, and an overall visual identity. Make sure that everything you create and do consistently follows the brand you have created.
Craft a Marketing Plan
By following the above ideas, you have already started your marketing plan. Now, you just need to determine relevant messages to reach your target market and the channels you will use to get those messages to them. These channels include direct mail, media, Internet, phone book, networking, trade shows, and pretty much anything your creative mind and advertising research can come up with. Almost all of these tactics will have some cost involved whether it is paying a professional to design your website, buying online advertisements, or printing direct mail and
brochures. Include marketing expenses in your marketing plan and proposals for loans, grants or
Bryan Cochand is a freelance writer for Adobe. Adobe services, such as digital signatures and signature validation, revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information; anytime, anywhere, and through any medium.
Image credit: Arabani