Strategizing Your Promotional Marketing Mix

In business or marketing strategy, you have probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). The promotional aspect can also be described as the “Promotional Mix” and it determines what actions to take to reach your target audience. If you find yourself asking “How do I know what works?” the answer begins with your target audience. This blog post will help you to strategize your marketing plan and I’ve even included estimated costs.

Marketing Tactics

  1. Business Name

Your business and brand name is crucial to your success. ($1,000 – $8,000)

  1. Logo

Your logo should represent your company and your brand. This is a must-have and quality does count. An affordable solution is 99Designs. If design and creativity isn’t your strong suit then you should invest in an engaging logo. ($500 – $10,000)

  1. Slogan

This may be optional, but this short description can explain your unique value proposition to the market. ($500 – $5,000)

  1. Website

Developing a website can be almost free (e.g. from WordPress or another free online template) or a substantial investment. It all depends on your ability to build a website, develop a strategy, content, etc. It will cost less if you can write it yourself and supply the photography, but if you don’t want to build a website, you should hire someone who does. You can also save money by being involved in the planning and content selection. ($5,000 – $50,000)

  1. Content Marketing Schedule

Unless you’re ready to draft a content marketing plan you should probably enlist some help. Providing valuable content will help move your targets through a track-able process.

  1. Email Marketing

This will help you provide value and disseminate you content. Free templates can be set up with any number of online eNewsletter programs. ($50  – $20,000)

  1. Social Media

Set up your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and ensure they are consistent with your branding and messaging. You should be able to do this yourself, but make sure you’re on the right networks – correctly.

  1. Blogging

Writing a blog is free and easy to do once you’ve planned your content strategy. Creating a blog will help you keep your website content fresh.

  1. Signage

Signage will let the market place know that you exist and help people easily you’re your location(s). ($500 – $50,000+)

  1. Directories and Classified Ads

Whether online or in a newspaper, these should be a cost-effective method to list your company in it’s target industry. People searching for specific items can locate your ad by category. ($25+/each)

  1. Community Newsletters

If your goal is to reach a specific community, than community papers may provide you with a cost-effective tactic, however readership varies. ($50 – $500/ad/size)

  1. Outdoor Advertising

This tactic will increase your local presence. Outdoor advertising covers a variety of media, including lawn signs, bus benches (0 – $200/month), shopping mall signs, billboards and building sponsorships. ($5,000 – $50,000+)

  1. Videos

Videos are an extremely important, especially within your content marketing strategy. They can be used in a variety of mediums including both digital and traditional marketing tactics.  ($2,000  – $50,000)

  1. Search Engine Optimization (and Outsourced Content Creation)

Your company and it’s digital assets need to rank highly. Enlisting the services of an expert will save you time, which will allow you to get back to business. ($1,000 – $5,000/month)

  1. Radio

This brand awareness tactic will increase your presence with commuter traffic, especially in rural communities. ($3,000 – $10,000/month)

  1. Television (TV)

Advertising on local (or national) television can greatly increase your brand awareness and increase recognition. (Estimate $1,000 – $10,000/month + production – you need a solid 30 second spot)

  1. Newspapers

Newspaper (local or national) can help build local, immediate attention and over a period of time can increase brand visibility. ($2,000+/month – depending on ad size)

  1. Promotional Products

These are branded items that you send (or give) away to gain (and retain) attention. In Calgary I recommend Level2, however there any many choices in every city.

  1. Direct Mail

Targeted, local direct mail can be effective if there is a valuable offer or create that stands out. This can also be applied to eNewsletters or digital marketing. ($0.5 – $3/ household is consistent depending on the creative you are mailing)

  1. Digital

There are many new online advertising channels to consider. Start with Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which is essentially your online search traffic that should relate to your company, product or service. Then look at display advertising, which is the online version of billboard advertising, layered in with retargeted and behaviour ads. Next think about social media advertising (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). If you’re confused by the above let me know and I can help. While marketing budgets may vary they are also affordable and track-able. ($25/day+)

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM system, emails and phone calls will help you manage current relationships, increase referrals and attract new prospects to be clients. If you don’t have a sales process or strategy you will not generate new business. ($25/month+)

  1. Recommendations, Success Stories and Celebrity Endorsements

Some of these are free or earned and others are not – however all will help you increase credibility within your market place. Always be aware of the risk.

Build Your Promotional Marketing Mix

Choose your promotional marketing tactic based on your target audience. This includes the volume, type, and geography of the target customers you are trying to reach. Depending on your marketing strategy (or objectives), choose the method that is the most direct and provides the most value. Your target prospects need to engage with your market for it to be a success. Forecast and plan your marketing budgets to ensure that you allow enough budget to carry your campaign throughout completion. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Just be sure to measure the results of your marketing.

How & When to Start Marketing Your Product: 4 Tips

“How and when should I start marketing?” Many companies and new entrepreneurs can easily get hung up on that question. Whether it refers to determining when to start marketing your product or service to customers, or figuring out the correct market in which to launch, the following 4 steps will help guide your through the process.

  1. Product Knowledge

You need to frame the product/technology as it relates to your proposed product timeline and evaluate what stage it currently resides. Doing so defines the timing of when you should go to market and who would be the ideal target within each of the product’s stages.

If you aren’t sure where your product stands, consider the following points:

  • Are the primary features still being developed?
  • Are there enough features to let someone test and give meaningful feedback?
  • Are you ready to present your product and find a first beta tester or even customer?
  • Where does your product reside in the product life cycle? Each of these stages varies in length and directly affects how you market and what your timing is.
    • 1. Development
    • 2. Introduction
    • 3. Growth
    • 4. Maturity
    • 5. Decline

Product knowledge will assist you with your marketing messaging as well as increasing your competitiveness within the market place.

  1. Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy should plan out the approach you will take to reach potential prospects. Define your target audience and know the best marketing medium, channel and budget for each persona.

Your marketing strategy needs to include the following elements:

  • Product & Consumer
  • Price & Costs
  • Place & Convenience
  • Promotion & Communication

4marketingPsandCs

Also consider these points when building your marketing plan:

  • Who your product or service will serve
  • Where to reach these people
  • How to reach these people
  • How to best do the above given the resources you have
  1. Competitive Landscape

To be successful and truly stand out to your target audience, it is crucial to have a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape. Figure out who the top competitors are, along with their value proposition and core messaging. Can your product or service thrive in the market place? All products, services and companies have competitors so be sure you conduct due diligence. I recommend starting with some web searches then building from there.

  1. Messaging

After you have developed your marketing strategy and understand the positioning of your product in it’s competitive landscape, the final component is to define the messaging. Your messaging is the compilation of the first 3 steps, but positioned in a compelling manner. It must be creative, catchy, engaging, memorable and most of all convert-able (leading to new business). If you are to be successfully noticed by a prospect, your messaging must be timely, relevant, and personalized.

Provide value and think about your unique value proposition. Consider the use of comparative language. Are you faster, bigger, sleeker, or cheaper? Your product knowledge, market strategy and competitive knowledge should help you to create messaging that will engage your target audience.

The 4 steps I’ve outlined will help you determine when or how you should market your new product or concept. It should begin developing an actionable marketing strategy that will allow you to under stand your product/service and it’s target audience. This also includes conducting market and competitor research as well as creating engaging messaging. These tips will allow you to properly plan your strategy and execution, which will be the key to your success.

Pitching Your Start-up

It doesn’t matter what type of company you are starting, you will need to know how to talk about it. Here are 4 tips to help you pitch your start-up.

1.       Nail your elevator speech

You need to be able to communicate what sets you apart in 10 words or less. It’s best to tackle the problem and solution. When creating your elevator speech, think less about you and more about the benefits your start-up will provide and the philosophy you embrace.

2.       Try a problem-solution lay-out

Start-ups generally exist to solve a need and fill a niche. Your elevator speech should clearly tell what that is. Quantify, and qualify, it before describing your unique solution to the problem or issue.

3.       Storytelling – learn it

Most companies and start-ups don’t know how to tell their story. The media, investors and public want to hear your story from the viewpoint and benefit of the end user.

4.       Describe how you will reach your audience

Describe how your start-up intends to reach those audiences. Will your company leverage online marketing, social-media channels, provide free training, or offer discounts or trials? Whatever tactics you choose to implement will help increase credibility and interest.

Lastly, it’s best to embrace the wonderful world of entrepreneurship. While the road to success may be difficult for entrepreneur you may as well enjoy the trip. Just remember to ask for help along the way. There’s lots of support available for start-ups to take advantage of.  

5 Quick Investor Tips

Here are 5 important tips to consider when approaching investors (or thinking about it).

1. Cash is king. Be sure to build up and prove you are able to manage your cash flow. Cash flow management can easily kill your companies – be careful!

2. The company must have sales. Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists will invest after you have your first customer. If you’ve ever watched Dragons Den you need to have a history sales before looking for investors.

3. Keep investors top of mind. Consider your family, friends and co-founders – are you comfortable losing their money? Keeping them top of mind will, hopefully, help you make sound business decisions.

4. Decide if control of your company is absolutely necessary. Company control is relative and should align with your personal and professional values.  

5. Practice telling your story. It will be very important for you to set yourself apart from the competition and address your ‘so what’ factor.

5 Tips for a Killer Start-up Name

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It’s simple – a great name says it all. Better yet, a killer company name doesn’t just sound right it exemplifies the company. What you call a new start-up can be one of the most important decisions you will make in the early days. The business name dictates web domains, trademarks and is the first step to developing your brand identity. Here are 6 tips to keep top of mind.

1. Be unique.

This means you need to watch out for sound-alike companies. If customer can’t Google your name and find you, your leads will never amount to much. Also, if another company has a similar name people may very easily type that domain into their browser and find the wrong brand.

2. Let the name tell your story.

This may not be completely necessary, but this can easily help with branding, advertising and generating buzz.

3. Make it personal.

Think of it this way, the company name is your handshake when you meet someone. It is personal and is an extension of the passion and drive it took to create the company. Having a personal name can help make the company memorable and relatable.  

4. Being practical is overrated.

The name needs to do more than just describe your product. Some companies use a name that says exactly what is does, but it’s important to find a creative and effective balance. The name, just like the company, needs to be bigger than itself.

5. Aha! That’s it!

Make sure you love the name and wait until you feel that the name is completely right! You will get a gut feeling when the company name fits the feel of the start-up. Be sure to brainstorm a long list of names, and say them out loud – trust me you will be saying it a lot in the future. 

Business Start-up Checklist

So, you’ve finally decided to go it alone and start up your own business. This will most likely be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Don’t jump before you look, there are some important things to consider before you leap off that business ledge.

How about some helpful hints to help you focus on a road map for your new business? Try these recommendations on your start-up!

What Kind of Business Do You Want to Start?

1. Part-time or a full-time business?
2. What is the industry? Is this a new product or service?
3. Buying a running an established business model (franchise)?
4. Should I start it alone or find a partner?

Research Your Business Idea

1. Do you have the financial resources necessary?
2. Is there a market for your business? How scalable is the idea?
3. Research your competitors. Check if there is chance for you to make an impact on consumers and capture some market share.
4. What is your unique value proposition (UVP) and selling points (USPs)?
5. What Is your cost structure? Check price points and revenue streams. Can you increase value?

Create that Business Plan

1. What are your main business goals? Make a list.
2. Decide on the location of your business and the associated costs.
3. How are you going to finance your business? Think about your cash flow, profit/loss and projected sales.
4. Define and describe your marketing strategy. What is your target market? Who is your perfect customer?
5. Get help! Lots of help is available to create a business plan – from online resources to consultants.

Define and describe Who, What, When, Where, and How your business and the products and/or services you plan to provide. Business plans clearly outline the goals of the business, explain the operating procedures, detail the competition, include a marketing plan, and explain the company’s current and desired funding. If your company plans to seek funding either in the form of a traditional loan or from venture capitalists, a thorough business plan will be required for the application process.

Train Hard

1. Prepare yourself. The more business skills you have, the better!
2. Read business news and books.
3. Attend a variety of business meetings and courses – there are lots of free ones out there!
4. Join business support networks and keep up to date with training workshops available.
5. Contact your local chamber of commerce and business development offices. Ask for helpful start-up resources.

The Name Says It All

1. Choose a name for your business. It’s fun, but definitely tough. The name should be unique, clear & memorable. Test out names with your family and friends!
2. Check to make sure that no one else uses the name. Then double-check.
3. Make sure the domain name is free. You do not want a web address that doesn’t match.

Registering Your Business

1. Decide what capacity your business will operate in (Corporation, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship).
2. Register your business with the appropriate registering body.
3. Seek professional advice when setting up partnerships or limited companies
4. Run a check for trademark names and availability.
5. Check out online help here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/bn-ne/bro-ide/menu-eng.html

Choose the Right Staff

1. How many employees do you need (if any)?
2. Don’t start hiring staff until you need them. Employees are expensive and require a budget.
3. Hire the best associates. Do not compromise on the skills and capability of your workers for lower wages.
4. Use and check references when hiring.
5. Clearly define the roles within your company before you hire.

Marketing

1. Develop an affordable marketing strategy and budget.
2. Get your business cards ready, complete with all your business details (addresses, phone numbers and website).
3. Network in your industry and community to gain exposure.
4. Set up your business website.
5. Create a presence across social networks and start building your consumer fan base.

 Legal and Professional

1. Seek advice. There are a lot of resources out there – use them! Get legal and professional advice for anything you are unsure of. This will save you a lot of hard work and money in the long run.
2. Insure your business.
3. Find out what taxes you will have to pay and start planning ahead.
4. Research all rules and regulations that you must legally follow.
5. Seek advice about tax breaks, funding and grants for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Suppliers and Distributors

1. Choose your suppliers and distributors carefully.
2. Reach as many suppliers as you can to reduce your costs.
3. Always keep a backup list of suppliers (it’s always good to be over-prepared)
4. Talk to distributors and be sure to clarify all terms and conditions.

Keep Good Records

1. Keep good records of everything that comes in and goes out of your business
2. Consider setting up a separate business banking account.
3. Make sure you understand the book-keeping process.
4. Discuss keeping accurate records with your accountant
5. Submit everything on time and in good order to save money at year end

Investigate Other Requirements

Businesses face a number of government and insurance requirements, particularly if the business has employees. You should investigate your business’s obligations for the following:

  1. Unemployment insurance
  2. Workers’ compensation
  3. Federal, provincial and sales tax
  4. Vacation pay
  5. Health benefits
  6. Self-employment tax
  7. Payroll tax requirements
  8. Sales and use tax

Entrepreneurial Resources at your Disposal

  1. Planning your business
  2. Organizing your finances
  3. Registering your business
  4. Hiring and managing your staff
  5. Workplace health and safety
  6. Additional resources
  7. All of which can be easily found at: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2749/

Final checks:

  • Select an accountant and attorney
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for business loans or a line of credit (if applicable)
  • Set up your business accounting
  • Obtain the necessary business licenses and/or permits
  • Acquire business insurance
  • Location, Location, Location: Find the best location for your business!