- Working with young entrepreneurs in the YMCA’s Youth Mean Business Program, I hear the same concerns come up time and again. Although the participants in the program have a wide range of business plans from the very simple to the quite complex, there is definitely a common theme to their concerns. Here are the top 3 questions new entrepreneurs want to address, and some suggestions for how to find the answers.
1. How do I reach my customers/ clients?
- To answer this you will first need to answer some big questions, namely: Who are your customers? What are their needs? If you are a B2B enterprise, you will need to research your industry thoroughly to understand how your product or service fits into the supply chain, or what the buying practices of your potential clients are. If you are a B2C business- delve into some demographics (looking at the population by age, gender, and income level, for example) to get an idea of the best places to get your message across to the right people.
2. What kind of Promotion Strategy should I go for?
- One that effectively targets your customer. Don’t shoot fish in a barrel! Social media is a boon for small business if done well and if your customer base is active online, as you can get pretty specific about who sees your ads. It’s also a great way to tell your story, accelerate word of mouth and create buzz. For micro-entreprises with a highly specialized service, an incentive program for current customers to recommend you may be the best way to build clientele. The answer isn’t one strategy fits all- it is about finding the strategy that makes the most sense for your business and your customers.
3. How much should I spend on Marketing?
- I often hear would-be entrepreneurs say things like, “We just don’t have a marketing budget.” Wrong! What they actually mean is they don’t have funds for conventional advertising. Marketing should be integrated into every aspect of how you get your product or service to your customer, from the creation of your product, to the selecting of your target market, your product positioning and how you communicate your message through branding and customer service. Looking at Marketing from this perspective could be the key to your business’s success, as it will keep you focused on your customer and what they need.