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Planning Your Start-Up’s Marketing Strategy

“How do I market my business?” This is a question I’m often asked by start-up business owners, and I’m always surprised to hear that they think I can give them a simple, one-size-fits-all approach to successful marketing. The honest answer is, “it depends.” There are many factors that play into my recommendations for an effective marketing plan. Determining the business’ unique selling proposition in the marketplace, their goals, and their realistic budget are all key components of a successful marketing strategy. At Tingalls, we dig deep to learn about our clients so we can tailor their marketing to the specific needs of their business.

What makes you special?

Identifying your unique selling proposition is by far the most important planning step in a business start-up. Your selling proposition becomes the roadmap to the “who, what, where, when, and why” of your business. In a recently published blog on the principles of identifying uniqueness in four areas: people, process, product, and pricing, I pose several questions to help you hone in on your specialties in each of these areas. Answering these questions will allow you to pinpoint your unique offerings when it comes to branding. When answering these questions, remember to avoid broad offerings like great customer service, friendly staff, and affordable pricing. These concepts are too generic and they don’t tell the consumer why they should choose your business over your competitors.

Speaking of competitors, competitive research is very important when determining your marketing strategy. Most start-up businesses are likely to have competition from larger companies that have been in business for years and have much deeper pockets. This shouldn’t be a deterrent from following your dreams, but it is a reality that must be considered in your marketing plan. Your website is an essential part of your marketing arsenal, but it takes time for a new business to start ranking in Google search results. Your website may act as the foundation of your business, but it shouldn’t be your only source for new leads. Tingalls Graphic Design has a lot of competition, from freelance graphic designers to full-service agencies. Tingalls may not always rank number one in Google search results due to the number of competitors in the Madison area, but other tactics help us stay competitive. Facebook ads, email newsletters, networking, speaking engagements, and involvement with professional organizations are all ways to drive business that aren’t entirely dependent on web traffic.

Who are your products or services for?

Recognizing your target audience is another critical piece in your marketing strategy. Profession, hobbies, gender, age, and income are just a few of the demographics to consider when identifying your target audience. Your audience will determine what channels you should be using to market your business. If for example you’ve identified your target audience as moms between the ages of 35 and 45, traditional ads – print, radio, billboards – may not be the way to go. More than likely Instagram or Facebook would be a more cost-effective way to directly re­­ach this audience. Running a targeted, demographic-specific ad on Facebook might require a budget of roughly $25 a week, but the leads generated from this type of marketing can give you a huge ROI. Traditional advertising still has its place, but the bigger point is directing your resources to where your specific audience is directing their attention.

Set SMART Goals to Make the Most of Your Budget

When developing a marketing plan, it’s important to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals. “I want to make $1,000 in my first two months of business” is a much more strategic goal than “I wanna make money”. Without knowing everything about every industry, it would be hard for me to help determine exactly what the financial outlook of your business might be. I do know that without specific goals in your plan and ways to track the results, you might as well throw your money to the wind and watch it fly away. Goals help you determine where you put your money to reach the biggest subset of your target audience. That might be a booth at large trade shows, sponsoring your kid’s baseball team, or hosting a series of “how-to” webinars in a world dependent on Zoom meetings. Think outside the box of traditional marketing and avoid just copying what competitors are doing.

Learning to work within your budget is going to set your business up for success in the long run. At Tingalls Graphic Design we can craft a beautiful logo, sales collateral, and informative website for less than $5,000. Surprised? Well, we’ve been doing this for more than 20 years so we know a thing or two about start-ups. If you need a full-blown e-commerce website that’s a different price point, but in general an eye-catching logo, business card, a sales leave-behind, and a clear and actionable website are all a start-up business needs to launch.

Are you completely confused and overwhelmed? Not to worry. I wouldn’t be in business if everyone knew how to do what I do or if it came easily to them. Tingalls Graphic Design specializes in start up marketing and I am happy to provide a free consultation. We can brainstorm together and I’ll help you create a concrete plan to launch your exciting new business venture.