To keep our fingers on the pulse of Utah’s startup community, The Register attends a lot of networking events. After hearing dozens and dozens of pitches, one theme is clearly emerging – startups need to spend more time creating marketing plans.
Even though both businesses were in different industries, neither presenter at the latest 1 Million Cups knew who their target market was. Unfortunately, this is common with business startups. In his E-Myth book series, author Michael Gerber, wrote that most businesses are started by people with superior technical skills, but lack business skills. As the business grows, the owner finds themselves doing more and more business tasks and enjoying their business less and less until eventually their business fails.
Crafting a marketing plan is a critical step in identifying a target market and developing strategies to gain sales traction within it. If you have a physical product do you wholesale, retail or do both? Who is the most likely user for your new iPhone app? How do you reach them?
Identifying a target market allows a business to then identify pain points or wants from that audience so they can modify their product to meet those needs or craft marketing messages to address them. “Come check out my new product!” isn’t an effective plea. Consumers want to know why they should spend their time/money on a product and they want to know what’s in it for them. Simply being new doesn’t address their needs.
There are many different types of marketing plans. Regardless of which one you use, they will all help provide the following core information.
1. Who your target market is – Age, income range, location and interests are all part of this equation.
2. How you’ll reach them – Advertising, referrals, marketing materials, social media websites, how you’ll sell or convert and more.
3. What your product is – Includes product descriptions, uses, pricing and packaging.
4. Why your product – Your unique selling proposition. Why your product is better and why your customer needs it and why they’ll come back for more.
Creating a marketing plan is more critical than the actual product itself. If you can’t sell what you create, what’s the point of creating it to begin with? If you’re thinking about starting a business or launched a business, make sure you research and write a marketing plan as well.