As we finish this series, I want to thank everyone that has emailed me with questions about their business idea as well as those who have already signed up to receive the Ebook once it is complete.
I often tell my clients, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” I am sure you have seen through this process that making your business idea is not easy but going through these steps will help to ensure you have done the proper planning necessary to create your success.
9. Know your client. Yes, I am sure that you think you know who will be buying your product/service but knowing in your head and completing some actual market research are two totally different things. In order to know your client, you must be willing to devote some time to marketing research. You should be looking for the following information:
- What is the outlook for my industry? A few years ago when I lived in Atlanta, I saw an immense amount of residential construction projects beginning. It concerned me because there were signs that the housing industry was facing problems due to sub prime lending practices but these developers were moving full speed ahead. It is imperative that you research what has been occuring in your chosen industry and what the analysts think will happen in the future. You may need to tweek your idea to ensure that it will survive whatever storms are predicted. Don’t give up if it looks challenging ahead, rather prepare yourself for whatever worst case scenarios may arise.
- Review factors that affect your chosen industry. You have to know all of the components that factor into creating your product/service because anything that affects them, will also affect your business. For example, if you want to open a bakery, you need to know the sources of all your necessary indegrients because if the cost of one of your ingridents rises 20%, you have to consider what will happen to the overall cost of your product.
- Understand your major customer groups. Every business likes to believe that their product/service will appeal to everyone. However, you need to identify your top three customer groups by age, geography, income, gender, etc. This will help you to create specific marketing plans and to ensure that you have a base that you can contact about branching out into new products/services as well as to contact about improving your existing business.
- Identify your client’s seasonal buying pattern. Not every product/service is needed year round. This is something that you have to understand and make preparations for. If you have a lawn care business, it is a given that business may be slow in the winter months. Why not offer snow shoveling services or ground clearing to keep your employees working and revenues flowing? If you can not think of anything to do during your “down” time then you should either have resources set aside to cover your business during this period or forewarn your employees about the potential for slow or unemployment.
- Where are they now? Where are your clients getting this product/service right now? Once you identify where they are, you also need to find out how they get their informaiton about which product/service to purchase. A teenage shopper gets information from a different place than a middle-age professional even though they may both be interested in purchasing your widget. They may have different reasons for purchasing the widget. Cell phones are probably the best example. Teenagers generally use their phones for texting and chatting while professionals are more likely to look for scheduling and emailing features. Same product, different customer group and use.
10. Marketing is often thought to be the fun side of business but also the first department to get cut when times get rough. Huge mistake! Your marketing budget should be considered just as important as paying your rent. If no one knows who you are or what you do, how do you really expect to stay in business? I hate to break it to but unless you have discovered the foutain of youth and knowledge, customers will not be breaking down your door to purchase your product/service.
Recently, a local deli opened in my city. As a member of our Chamber Board, I was excited to have this new business in town. We contacted them about scheduling a ribbon cutting but no response. I didn’t know the exact location but thought I would see an ad in the newspaper announcing their grand opening. Never happened. About a month later, they closed the business. I did not have to wonder what happened because it was very obvious. They thought their business was so needed that they didn’t have to market it. Wrong answer!
You need to have a marketing plan for your business and ensure that it is consistent with your company image, appeals to your target customer group and that it will be affordable during your high periods as well as during the slower times. Some basic products to purchase are business cards, a brochure or rack card to distribute detailing who you are and what you do and professional signage for your business location. Come back next week for some tips to “Market on a Shoestring Budget.”
I sincerely hope these tips have been helpful in making your business idea a reality. Please review parts 1-4 and send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in receiving a copy of the Ebook within the next month or so.