Diary Of An Under 30 CEO: Tips On Marketing For Startups [Ventures Africa]
(Ventures Africa Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) VENTURES AFRICA – "First comes the thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination," said Napoleon Hill. He also once remarked : "Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don't have any problems, you don't get any seeds."
No time for pleasantries, let's get straight down to business; first come the familiar problems. One is that, the mailbox is flooded with requests for the column to cover marketing for small-to-medium enterprises. Then there is the myth that so much of our attention is focused on the millionaires, such that it has been easy to miss the innovative high-flyers.
Forgive the delusion; most readers visit this column to gain access to our opulent campus, which is a knowledge bank that has a collection of futuristic insights into the torturous world of entrepreneurship. For one thing, we have our cauliflower ears on the ground, ready to listen to any interesting innovative story.
Now that the myth has been dispelled, to be fair, let us get back to the significant of the Napoleon Hill quotes before confusion reigns supreme on your mind. Tellingly, entrepreneurship is a creative activity. It is the innate ability to create and build something from practically nothing.
Reality is more sobering, nevertheless, if you have sensed the opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion, and the attitude of your mind is take calculated risks and derive benefits by setting up a venture, you need an appreciation of how to satisfy the market with your solution.
You need to think on your feet, all Napoleon Hill is saying is simply, there is no limitation to your marketing plan once you have it in your imagination, and your mindset is in the right space despite your limited resources when you compare yourself to your competition. Again, forgive the bad interpretation.
Marketing encompasses all the steps that lead to final sales. It involves the process of planning and executing pricing, promotion and distribution to satisfy individual and organizational needs. Marketing is more than just the process of selling a product or service. Without marketing, even the best products and services fail, that's why marketing, is an essential part of any business.
Companies constantly fail because they do not know what is happening in the marketplace and as a result, they are not fully meeting their customer's needs. They mistakenly believe that with the proper amount of advertising, customers will buy whatever they are offered.
The biggest hurdle for young African entrepreneurs is that they seem to believe that entrepreneurship is just having a well-designed business card, an innovative product, and just hope viral marketing will bring customers their way.
Even if the heavyweights are stumbling, having a business, employees and a well run structure doesn't mean anything if you don't have a market: someone to buy your product. Without customers there is no business.
And what is more interesting, because you do not only need something to sell — whether that's a product or a service — you need to sell something that people want to buy, you need to be constantly communicating your message with them, and you need to keep them coming back for more. One sale does not guarantee a repeat sale.
A great entrepreneur knows and understands the market. Some markets already exist, others are just waiting to be created, but a true entrepreneur will be able to identify an opportunity waiting to be exploited. Understanding your target market is worlds apart from creating a product or offering a service.
An opportunity is created by a burning need in the market, and creating a product or offering a service is based on the assumption that because the product is out there, they will buy from you. However, if customers don't know what the benefits of using your product are, you will simply be well stocked with your product, unfortunately, with no buyers.
It's importantto know exactly who you are, what you are offering and who you are offering it to, even if that means a smaller market, than trying to appeal to everyone. Even so, you need to have something worth selling, you need to believe in what you are selling, and you need a clear picture of what your brand stands for. Never be afraid of speaking openly with your customers.
Real value can only be added to the lives of your customers, if you understand what they perceive as value, and that can only be learnt through interacting with them and asking them what they want and need. You need to understand the critical factors affecting your customers and their industries. Stop selling your plan and start finding out what is valuable to them. Only then, can you start developing solutions for your clients.
Customers will always have some form of perception about your product. At the very least the product needs to provide the satisfaction that is expected of it. Ideally, you need to do a lot more. It's useful to measure the disconnection between leads and the successful conversation of leads to customers. If you have enough leads but are not making enough sales, the problem is in the selling, not the marketing. If you aren't getting enough leads, you need to focus more on your marketing. How are you getting yourself out there?
The successful companies innovate, their value propositions to attract customers who have never engaged with their type of product or service before. The best market opportunities are often to be found in the least likely customers. If you want a big profit, go for the marginal users, not the ones all your competitors are chasing as well.
Keep the 80/20 rule in mind: 80 percent of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Getting to know the names and preferences of this core group solidifies their commitment to your market and helps to ensure they keep coming back week after week.
Development of your mission statement should be the first stage in strategic marketing. A good mission statement should state clearly, your target customers or markets, principal products or services etc. Furthermore, once a mission statement has been created, your company can develop objectives. An example of company objective could be, to make your product the best selling product in terms of units sold on the market.
Once a mission statement and objectives have been determined, a competitive strategy is developed so that a company can create advantages over the competition. Making a different product than the competition, on attributes considered important to the customer, is an example of a competitive strategy.
Not surprisingly, marketing objectivescan only be developed once the mission statement, company objectives, and the competitive strategy have been determined. Marketing objectives are designed to help a company attain overall objectives, and to achieve a viable level of sales or market share is a prime example of a marketing objective. For example, if a company sells 2 units of a product, but total consumption for the good is 20 units, the market share is 1% (2/20).
Marketing strategies will outline exactly how marketing objectives will be achieved. For argument's sake, if the marketing objective is to increase market share, the marketing strategy states exactly how the market share increase will occur. A marketing strategy is simply a way to give marketing orientation to a business by deciding to position a product or service in terms of buyer needs and wants. Very often, inexperienced business people often make decisions based on what they like or want, leaving the customer out of the picture. For example, you can increase the number of users by simply building the willingness to buy.
Lastly, you need to develop marketing programs that achieve your marketing objectives. The marketing programs will be detailed approaches to the four P's (products, place, promotion and pricing). Generally, the approach for making decisions for each of the four P's should closely follow the mission statement, company objectives, competitive strategies, marketing objectives and marketing strategies.
Today communicating information to your customers has been made easier and cheaper, because of the multiple social media platforms. Social media has many advantages for both consumers and businesses, including convenience, savings, selection, personalization, and information. To succeed on the social media platforms, your organization needs to reorganize and redefine itself. You need to manage the efficiency and effectiveness of your social media activities, because social media lowers the marketing expense and increases your reach if managed properly.
In conclusion, marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs. One of the easiest definitions of marketing to memorize is simply, "meeting needs profitably." All business ventures always illustrate a drive to turn a private or social need into a profitable business opportunity, however, without a proper marketing strategy; it is difficult to achieve the objective.
The bottom line is that effective marketing can take many forms. Nevertheless, having more creativity and passion for your marketing activities, can turn your ordinary product into an extra-ordinary market leader.
"If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal," once exclaimed Napoleon Hill.
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