How to market a new venture

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Advertising and marketing team from Mad Men

The IoD’s Information and Advisory Service offers guidance on raising awareness of your nascent brand with a cost-effective marketing strategy

All entrepreneurs understand that marketing is key to building relationships with consumers. But the pitfalls of badly judged campaigns – from wasted time and money to reputational own-goals – bring many out in a sweat. To ensure that you devise a cost-effective marketing plan for your new venture, the IoD’s Information and Advisory Service (IAS) suggests the following steps.

Know your market

You need to gain an in-depth understanding of factors including the potential demand for your product, consumers’ preferences and the strength of the competition. Assessing your rivals’ offerings may help you to hone your proposition and target your marketing more accurately. The IAS’s Business Information Service offers IoD members free access to research by Euromonitor and IBISWorld, making it the ideal first port of call for market intelligence. Other sources of free or low-cost sectoral data include trade bodies and official databases such as the Office for National Statistics. You can also buy data from providers such as Mintel.

Set your strategy

The research you do in the first step should enable you to describe in detail your target market; the relevance of your brand to them; your offering’s unique selling point and competitive positioning; and your sales (and other) targets. All this should point to the ideal mix of channels for your marketing material. If it doesn’t, it’s better to return to step one than to use guesswork or apply a scattergun approach.

Even if social networks don’t emerge as a key marketing channel for your business, remember that they offer a cheap and measurable way to communicate with consumers and raise your brand’s profile. They should therefore be part of any marketing strategy. Managing an effective social media presence requires dedication – regular updates and timely responses are vital in maintaining good customer service and engagement. Lateral thinking is useful here. If you sell specialist foods, for instance, check relevant blogs/ Facebook pages and consider what you could contribute in this space. This will help you to spot consumer trends that can be exploited and also monitor what the competition is up to.

Create a marketing schedule

An effective timetable will ensure that everyone in your organisation knows what you’re trying to achieve and what they need to do at given times to make it so. It will also serve as the benchmark against which to measure success each year. Set out the marketing activities you intend to use, when each one will be deployed, its cost, when you expect to see results and what success will look like – eg, percentage increases in website hits, phone enquiries and sales.

Avoid the common traps

Don’t seek out customers you have little chance of selling to – a small local firm is a more realistic first target than a multinational. Don’t offer customers what you think they want; offer them what you know they want. And don’t stand still – the competitive landscape may have changed since you conducted your initial research. Keep up to date and stay ahead of the pack.

How the IAS can help you
The Business Information Service (BIS) is accessible by email or phone: 020 7451 3100
The Directors’ Advisory Service (DAS)can give guidance by appointment, either face to face at 116 Pall Mall or over the phone: 020 7451 3188
The legal helpline can answer quick queries about a vast range of issues: 0870 241 3478*
The tax helpline can give callers advice on both commercial and personal tax matters: 01455 639110†
IoD members are entitled to 25 enquiries a year to the BIS; four sessions with a DAS adviser; and 25 calls to both the legal and tax helplines. For further details, visit iod.com/information or email us
* Quote your membership number
† Quote your membership number and reference number 33337

About author

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty is the writer/reporter for Director magazine. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team in 2016.

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