It’s fantastic to see such a strong drive amongst entrepreneurs in launching their products and services. However, this eagerness to launch can sometimes leave important elements of running a business, like market analysis or financials, by the wayside, which can have a negative impact on your long-term prosperity.
If you are about to launch a business, here are the areas you need to consider to help ensure success:
Know your audience
Ensure you really know your audience and the market in which they operate. What are their needs and desires, and ultimately, what makes them tick? This is where carrying out market research can be useful. Without this knowledge, you will struggle to connect and make a meaningful pitch.
Understanding your finances
Before your business is fully operational, identify the best tools to help keep track of your finances. There are some really smart, easy-to-use tools out there, that are a lot cheaper than you might think. A small business platform like Xero takes the pain out of accounting and bookkeeping and can provide so much more.
Whether you work with your accountant or not, you will be able to identify your incomings and outgoings, cash flow, inventory and payroll, alongside forecasted trends based on your business’ performance.
What’s more, services like Xero can offer a totally tailored package dependent on your needs – if you need a service to create timesheets, invoices, bank reconciliation and more, you can create a bespoke package so you’re not paying any more than you need to.
If you don’t have a strong identity, your customer won’t know what they are buying into. Brand loyalty and trust are very important aspects of any business.
Take two of the world’s largest companies, Nike and Coca-Cola. They take great care in ensuring their brand identify shines through in anything they do and this has contributed to their phenomenal global presence.
If you take a look at the insights from the Edelman Trust Barometer you’ll get a greater understanding of just how much a reputation affects the performance of a business.
As the business owner, it’s up to you to decide what your brand personality looks like. Think about what drove you to start a business in the first place, and then think about working with marketing professionals and/or designers to build out your brand strategy, so you can jump into action.
It’s very important for a business to understand what their unique selling point (USP) is. Without a USP, you risk being lost in a sea of competition. Ask yourself, why you stand out in the market, what you offer that nobody else offers, and why customers would pick you over a competitor?
Discover what you do better than anyone else, and then amplify that message across all of your communications.
How to price your product
There are a number of components that play a role in your pricing strategy. The first step – map out your variable and fixed costs, from raw materials to cost of labour, to overheads, like rent, wages. This will help determine how much product you need to sell in order to break even.
When deciding how to price your product or service, you also need to understand how and where your business fits into the economy. Things like age and gender, geographical location and socio-economic factor of your customer base play a hugely important role in setting the right price.
Undercharging is as bad for your business as overcharging. Either way, your profits will be lower, whether due to insufficient revenue per unit or reduced sales. So effective pricing is vital. Keep up with the market and ensure you explore your options and research your competitors’ prices (online and offline).
Finally, be open-minded, your pricing may have to change quickly, so keep an eye on what’s going on in the industry and speak to customers to make sure your prices remain optimal.
How to market your product or service
Consumers can interact with a brand in more ways than ever before. They might browse your online shop, visit a physical store, see a print brochure, hear an ad on the radio, or reach you through an app, so getting brand messaging right is extremely important.
A presence on social network sites will help raise your profile. It can also help you engage with your potential customers and learn from their feedback. It can be time-consuming work though, so begin with one or two networks. SEO is also key and search engines love good content. If you can write about your business in a way that’s interesting, helpful and informative then you’ll be rewarded with better search rankings – and better traffic.
Ultimately, marketing is all about sales. It doesn’t matter how well you plan or design your marketing campaigns if they don’t increase your sales figures. Consider using marketing automation products to help you compare and rank the success of your campaigns. Use quality accounting software, like Xero, to keep track of your online marketing expenses, and compare them with any increased sales revenue.
Keep refreshing your marketing campaigns, testing new ideas, and watching ecommerce companies to find out how best to promote your products. Stay active and never stop learning!
Donna Torres is director of SMB at Xero
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