This is part seven in our series on how to start thinking about marketing. To see our previous articles, check out:
Both established companies and start ups have unique challenges when trying to build their marketing plans. If an established company is in a known industry, they will have a very difficult time overcoming current perceptions – their brand is out there. But, a startup has to find people willing to take a chance on an unknown quantity. Either way, a good marketing plan is key to achieving the goals.
Being an established company means you have experience from which to draw. This is great news because there is no better marketing than your customers. Build a portfolio of testimonials, case studies and stories to use in every media and conversation you have. Spend as much time talking to your current customers as new ones – you want people just like your current customers, right? Really understanding their needs, wants and challenges allows you to connect with new clients faster and easier. If you don’t know today what is keeping your clients up at night, find out. Now. And that doesn’t mean guess – you should KNOW.
A start up company doesn’t have the luxury of calling on those stories and experiences. Instead, you have to focus on what’s wrong with the current market and why you started the company. What needs weren’t being met? What needs to happen to get things done right? The best marketing angle to take in this case is “one of you”. As “one of you”, I recognized the following problem with…. If you were a frustrated customer just like the people you are appealing to, they will listen. If you have hit one of their true frustrations. So how do you know if you have? Again, you need to talk to people. Connect with people however you can -LinkedIn, Blogs, local Chamber organizations, etc. to get a chance to have a conversation. Be sure to listen more than you talk and find out what the frustrations are. Then, as soon as you get that first success, capitalize on it. I worked for a company at one point that made a point to let everyone know who the first 5 clients they had ever had were and we were to treat those people even better than the rest. They had retained all five for 10 years when I moved out of the area and left the company. Pretty impressive!
Looking at your marketing plan with this in mind can also help figure out how to prevent the other guy from getting to your client. If you understand the benefits a start up can bring, you can answer it up front. If you know what the current providers do well, you can head that off before you get hammered with questions. Either way the best defense is a good offense.
Next we will conclude our series with Tech-focused on Non-tech-focused clients.