You may have the best business idea in the world, but unless you understand your market and develop an appropriate marketing plan, your product will languish on the shelf.
It helps to understand the four "Ps" of marketing:
• Product - What is the product and what position in the market does or will it hold? How will you package it? What are its features and benefits?
• Price - Quite simply, you must decide how much you will charge for your product. Factors that must be considered include your costs, what your customers will pay, what your competition charges, and the image you want to convey.
• Place - Place is not merely physical location It also includes your position in the market as well as how you distribute and place your product.
• Promotion - How will you let your customers know your product exists? What media will you use to promote your product?
Research, research and more research! Research the needs of customers, longevity of product, competitors, intellectual property issues, customer base, etc. You will also need to learn as much as possible about your industry.
In addition to the Internet, the public library or local college library is a great resource. You can also learn from other business owners, professional organizations, or by taking classes or seminars. Your local SBDC can offer counseling, classes, referrals and access to primary and secondary research.
Developing a customer profile is critical to the success of a business. Is your customer the end user, the conduit, the distributor? Is your customer an individual or another business? Age, gender, location, education, income level and other demographics of the customer base determine your target market. Psychographics, which include needs, values and interests, are also important components.
Market information can be gathered through census data and community information available through local economic development organizations.
Every business has competition, whether it is direct (head-to-head) or indirect (similar product or service, but different target market or business category. Identifying your competition and understanding how you compare is extremely valuable. You need to evaluate your competitors and understand their strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful to develop a matrix that includes items such as product, customer, sales, price, place, etc., and see how you stack up.
How important are location and customer access to your business? How about shipping and freight access? If physical access to your business is critical to your success, you should evaluate how customers access the business. Do they come by foot, by personal vehicle, by public transportation? What brings new customers to your business? Traffic studies for your location may be useful. Your city or county engineer should be able to help.
Understanding the economic characteristics of your location are important as well. What drives the area and how will you fit in?
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Introduction to the concepts and strategies used by large firms, and how to adapt them to small businesses.
Google and the Small Business Administration have partnered to educate local businesses about how to succeed online. Each video describes how a small business owner successfully uses the internet to grow its business. It's important to be where your customers are...online!