- Identify your Market
Market research is the first step in developing a marketing plan. Determine who your target customers are. The age, lifestyle and income levels of your prospective customers will have a direct affect on where you spend your advertising dollars.
What are your customers looking for? Check trade magazines for statistics and buying trends. Visit your library for local records, published surveys and reports pertaining to your business market. A neighborhood retail business will market differently than one with an international clientele. Know your target demographic and focus on marketing to them.
For an entrepreneur or small business, finding those first customers will be difficult. Take advantage of those with expertise in your field that may help you create business. Join trade associations and local organizations. Get involved with networking groups or the local chamber of commerce. Meeting other business owners at the monthly meetings and sharing ideas are worth the low membership fees. For example, a new real estate office looking for home sellers can benefit by sharing information with electricians, plumbers and landscapers. Get together with other businesses that share common customers without direct competition. Referrals are an excellent way to get your business started.
- Develop a Brand
Build a brand for your company using a specific color scheme and a professional logo designed with your business plan in mind. Keep it simple and memorable and use it everywhere. Signs, business cards, web sites, yellow page ads and printed brochures should include your logo and company colors.