You have a great idea for a product or service. Whether it is cutting edge or an improvement on something that has been offered in the market for decades, you believe success will be yours. You have crafted a business plan, possibly even secured funds and your family and friends are all on board. So, all systems go right? Well not so fast. A few questions first.
Have you thought about branding? Did you thoroughly research pricing? How will your customers find you? Okay we’ll stop there for a moment, this can be quite overwhelming. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs love the fun parts of crafting a plan for a winning business idea –like imagining themselves rolling around in a pile of cash – but they ignore the importance of having a detailed marketing strategy. Branding Your company’s brand is its identity, so choose wisely. Go beyond the two-dimensional world of logos and catchphrases and really think about the personality of your enterprise. Quite simply, when a customer thinks of your company what do you want to come to mind? Investigate larger brands to see how they have positioned themselves in the market. You can learn from their successes and their failures. (search Dove and Pepsi branding fails) One mistake in your branding strategy can cost you dearly, but even worse, is not having a strategy at all. Product or Service You may think your product or service is the best thing since sliced bread but does anyone else? If you can find money in your budget, focus groups and surveys are a great way to see if a market actually exists for your offerings. It can be costly, but the alternative is continually tossing money at a bad idea. A hit to the ego is better than losing your shirt financially. Furthermore, when you conclude on pricing, which criteria did you use to determine a fair a price? Before setting a price in concrete, make sure you do your research. Overpricing will turn potential budget-minded customers off, and under-pricing may conjure images of cheap materials and cut-rate service.
Advertising/Public Relations You can’t get to a new destination without having a map or GPS. The same can be said of a new product or service. How can your potential customers find you if they don’t even know you exist? That’s where public relations and advertising come in. When your product is ready to launch, a press release is an absolute must. If writing isn’t your forte or you have very little knowledge in handling the media, hiring a PR expert is probably a good idea. You want maximum exposure and being green in this field can make it quite difficult to get positive results.
Advertising. Did that just make you jump back from your screen a little? It can be intimidating, expensive and if not done effectively, wasteful. But without advertising, your product or service might as well be in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere. Not a soul will find it. As far as budget, that’s something you need to determine prior to launching a campaign. If you search “how much should I budget for advertising” plenty of suggestions will populate. Ultimately, though, it’s up to you. No one understands your financial situation more than you do. That being said, if you don’t spend enough money on promoting your product, you risk the aforementioned cornfield scenario. It’s a tricky game.
When crafting your business plan make sure you leave plenty of room for marketing. If you do your research, offer a great product or service and market successfully, that’s when rolling in cash can become a reality. Suggestion: use crisp bills.