What you must have regardless of your budget.
Allow us to share a quote with you from one of the ad industry’s legends:
“During good times, people want to advertise. In bad ones, they have to.” -Bruce Barton, 1923 (During the on set of the Great Depression)
Why is it that in our current economic state the marketing and advertising budget is often first to see the scissors? Large corporations know they need to increase their advertising, but they don’t spend time educating you, the small business owner. Large agencies don’t bother telling you because you can’t afford them.
Marketing and advertising should be your second largest expense besides payroll. Advertising is the single most important thing you can do for your business, and it’s proven. It is an investment you must make in order to see returns. Simply stated, your business will not succeed if customers don’t know about your product.
We recommend the following steps to help you successfully build your business (expect to spend a few months on these):
- Start saving. You will need a marketing budget. Don’t allocate dollars for piecemeal projects (such as $1000 for a website, $500 for a logo). Instead, save your money to consult with a marketing expert who will develop a cohesive marketing plan and who will help you distribute your funds to the media which will prove most effective in reaching your target market.
- Write a comprehensive business plan. This plan will provide a road map for your business-building venture. A plan may seem trivial, but successful entrepreneurs create them because they work.
- Research the hell out of your market, competition, the current and projected future economies, and anything else you can think of! If you aren’t thorough with your research, you will communicate the wrong thing to the wrong people (and it’s a very important part of the business plan, anyway).
- Find your strongest point of differentiation. What makes you stand out from your competitors? If you haven’t figured this out, then you haven’t done your research. If you’ve done your research and you still don’t have a strong point of differentiation, you may need to rethink your idea.
- Find your target market. Companies often make the mistake of including all of humanity into their target market. This too-broad target market actually makes you more constrictive rather than permissive; aiming to sell to everyone means you can’t make yourself stand out for fear of alienating or offending half the world’s population. Do your research, and it will help you find a niche. If you don’t have a target market, you have nothing.
- Finally, a marketing plan should be developed based on your budget. First, your brand, and with it, your message, must be developed. Then, your plan will take your strongest point of differentiation and point the messaging to your target market.
While this list of steps may seem daunting, rest easy knowing that we are here to help you with each one. To accomplish these steps, there’s a universal process all ad agencies use for companies which are just like yours except that they have a bigger piggy bank.