When you launch your own company, you’re typically working with a tabula rasa — a blank slate. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks. Where there are some things that can be learned along the way via trial and error, there are others, particularly related to marketing and customer relationships, that you should have a grip on before starting up. Being able to use these tips and tricks to your advantage can do nothing but help as your startup hits the marketplace.
Get to Know Your Target Audience, Inside and Out
Yes, this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many ignore this (or get it wrong). Your target audience is the specific group of people who buy/use your products. Knowing what is important to your customers, their likes, wants and values are vital when providing products and services to them. “Everybody” is the wrong answer if you’re asked about who your target audience is — just like saying “no one” when asked who your competitors are.
Focus on the Customer Experience
Similar to knowing your customer, your startup should be focused on the customer experience. Put yourself in their shoes — how are you being treated by your startup? Would you want to deal with your company? Think that over and make any adjustments you feel would remedy the situation. And you shouldn’t just “sell” to your customers — engage them!
Convey a Consistent Message
Have a consistent brand identity all throughout your organization, your web site, social media accounts and print materials. Conveying consistency — core messages, visual branding and social media posts — is helpful for maintaining a stellar reputation. One element of gaining the trust of your customers (see below for more) is to maintain brand consistency. It helps when people recognize and remember you.
Gain Customer Trust
Gaining customer trust is another obvious one, but similar to knowing your target audience, and one that sometimes gets sidestepped. Honesty shouldn’t be the best policy; it should be the only policy. Maintaining transparency in all areas shouldn’t be questioned. Even communicating the bad news is better than stretching the truth about something. Do what you say and say what you do.
Make Your Marketing Memorable
Marketing has become such a generic term these days that it seems to have lost some of its mojo. Pretty much everything you do is marketing in this social media age. And since there’s a lot of noise out there — between social media, podcasts and old-school marketing — getting noticed takes some out-of-the-box thinking. Putting time and effort into your social marketing will help increase brand awareness, generate sales and help grow your audience. In addition:
Reward repeat customers
There is almost no limit to the ways your company can do this. Discounts for large purchases, a loyalty program where a series of smaller purchases adds up, free giveaways or even a “club” where members get special offers or previews of new products/services.
Create a referral program
Similar to the reward program, have an incentive for customers to bring others on board. It could be a “store credit,” a free product, free shipping or something else that your customers find important. (Having completed “Get To Know Your Target Audience Inside and Out,” you should know what is important to your customers.)
Give stuff away
People love swag, so don’t be afraid of giving away branded items — T-shirts, stickers, koozies, etc.
Pay Attention to Industry Trends
No matter what sector your company is in, that industry is changing. And changing fast. What made sense a few short years ago is old-school and outdated today. And even though you try hard to differentiate yourself from your competitors, it’s in your best interest to keep an eye on what they’re doing. They’re still in business, and chances are, they’ll come up with some good ideas that you haven’t.
Integrate yourself into the industry community – it’ll help with being known as an “expert” and a reputable company that customers know and love.
Chris Capelle is a technology expert, writer and instructor. For over 25 years, he has worked in the publishing, advertising and consumer products industries.
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