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How to start promoting your business when you start out

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In this article I present to you a standard formula for promoting your business when you are just starting out.

Over time we have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs. A fairly consistent part of them were at the beginning of the road.

People come up with different ideas or start different businesses and turn to marketers and other business people for help.

In principle, when entrepreneurs are at the beginning of their journey, we have identified that they face the following problems:

  • they lack clarity in what they need to do and lack strategic thinking
  • they don’t know what the business world is like and it’s hard for them to survive
  • they have a hard time finding their first customers
  • they don’t have enough marketing and sales skills
  • they started the business based on ideas and assumptions not validated in the market
  • they lack planning
  • they divide their time, energy and resources in too many directions

Therefore, I decided to shed some “light” through this article, based on my experience.

So, here’s what you have to do step by step:

1. Be clear about where you are and where you want to go

In short, identify your personal and business goals.

And because everything that happens in business is 100% up to you (thoughts/ambitions/skills/resources/etc.), do the following exercise:

Take a sheet of paper (or a Word document) and divide it into two equal halves.

On the left half, underline everything about your current situation:

  • how much money do you have
  • how much you currently earn
  • what skills do you have
  • what your life looks like right now
  • what do you like
  • what do not you like
  • what are you very good at
  • what are you not good at at all
  • what opportunities you have
  • what threats do you have
  • And so on

The more specific you are and the more dashes you have, the more clarity you will have.

Note: you must write on paper somewhere. If you don’t write down the exercise is in vain. I’ve read various studies that say how important it is to write down instead of just thinking about what to write down.

Humans have an average of over 60,000 thoughts a day. Even if some are more important than others, in 2-3 days you will forget them.

On the right half, write with a dash exactly how you want your ideal situation to be:

  • how much money do you want to have
  • how much money you want to earn monthly
  • what skills do you want to have
  • what you want your ideal life to look like
  • what do you want to be really good at
  • what your business will look like
  • And so on

This exercise will give you clarity and a destination to start with. It’s important in life and in business to have ideas about where you want us to go. It’s important to have goals.

Without a clear goal you will constantly step into the unknown and lose motivation and interest along the way. You will always be distracted and you will never be successful.

2. Make sure that what you chose to start will still make sense 10 years from now

The game is not overnight. Those who start with the premise that they are making a business and will see how it is in 1 year, will have problems.

Patience is needed in business. Sometimes things happen more slowly. Sometimes you need breaks and moments of introspection. Sometimes things don’t happen the way you planned.

It is certain that whatever you start doing now, it will be useless if in 5 years you give up because you realize that you don’t like it, or it’s not for you, or it’s too hard, or no one wants what you offer anymore.

It’s important that what you choose to do makes sense 10 and 20 years from now. That means looking at market trends a bit and analyzing.

Try to figure out what will be in high demand in 10 and 20 years. Otherwise, you risk being easily replaced and having to re-profile yourself. And you won’t want that.

I have a former client who started an online low carb store. At first he was enthusiastic and ready to work. In parallel, he was employed at an IT company and had a wife and child.

After 1 year, things didn’t seem like they were necessarily going in the right direction. He realized that it is a very difficult field and requires 100% commitment. So he gave up. He sold his business.

Another old client of mine had a platform with summaries in Romanian of international bestseller books. After 2 years he sold his business and did not come out with who knows what profit. Instead he wasted a lot of time and money. There were many issues with technology, budgets, consumer trends and many limitations. In addition, the competition has come up with many extras and has taken a good share of the market share.

It is very important to have an analysis of the market and possible threats or opportunities.

The dynamics of the market is very high. Especially in certain fields where it is based on technology.

3. Establish your ideal customer avatar

Here it is relatively simple.

Go for idealism.

I mean, you think about who would be interested in what you want to offer.

You must establish:

  • demographic data (age, gender, income, status, location, etc.)
  • behavioral data (how they buy, when they buy, who they buy from, who makes the purchase decision, etc.)
  • psychological data (fears, frustrations, desires, needs, beliefs, values, principles)

Once you know all this, you will at least know who to turn to and who will help you in the next steps.

4. Do some market research

Probably the most important thing before you start something is to test whether it sticks or not.

How do you do this testing?

Not with thousands or tens of thousands of euros.

You have to try to find information from potential customers, investing minimal resources.

What does this market research mean?

It means studying what people want. After you have chosen the field and have the business idea, study and see:

  • what does the competition look like in that niche (if there is; if there is no competition it could be a reason – there is no demand or business in that area)
  • what the competition’s customers are saying
  • what value proposition does the competition have
  • what sets the competition apart
  • what would you have different from the competition
  • how big is the market (demographics)
  • how many competitors there are
  • how saturated the market demand is
  • what are the customers’ needs
  • what are the customers’ wishes
  • what are customer frustrations
  • what are the problems that customers face
  • why customers chose competitor X over Y
  • why would they choose you over X or Y
  • And so on

There are many things that need to be learned and they need to be learned directly from the intended target audience.

To do marketing research you need a research tool like a questionnaire or group interviews.

This survey or interview should be addressed to your intended target audience (ex: customers of your competitors, people in a Facebook group in your niche, etc.).

In order to find these people, you either have to advertise or somehow promote this questionnaire. If you know your target audience well enough, you can go on Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin and message them to ask them to help you with answers.

Many times people will refuse. To motivate them you can give them a gift. Or you can turn to a marketing firm that does such market research.

It is very important to have as many answers and real data as possible. That’s why, after completing the questionnaires or having notes from the interviews, you need to sort and choose only the most relevant answers.

For the questionnaire you would need a minimum of 100 (preferably 1000+) respondents.

At interviews you would need a minimum of 10 (preferably 100+).

5. Create an offer

Offer means the product or service that you will offer in exchange for money.

To create the perfect offer, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • know what problems/needs people have
  • know how to solve them

The value of the offer is the perception that people create of what you have to offer.

This perception is influenced by many factors such as:

  • how quickly you can solve the problem/need
  • how easy it is for them to have their problem/need solved with your help

So time and difficulty. Reduce time and difficulty.

Make sure the offer is aimed at a market that needs it. That is, you are addressing some people who want what you offer and are willing to pay and can afford to pay.

Example: You want to sell a Ferrari to an expatriate Somali bricklayer for nothing because he might not be able to afford it or need it.

6. Validate the offer

After you have created the offer, it is important to validate it as soon as possible. That is, to have at least 5-10-50 buyers.

The number of buyers varies depending on the price and what you are offering. For products or services over 10,000 euros, you don’t need many buyers for validation. But for products/services of 100 euros, you need at least 50-100.

For validation you don’t need who knows what platform or advanced systems. I recommend starting with something very simple like a phone call/powerpoint presentation/PDF presentation/simple video.

Don’t invest big money in websites, platforms, teams or who knows what “miracles” if you don’t have anything validated.

It starts with an “MVP” (minimum valueable product).

7. Presentation of the offer

After you have validated the offer, it is time to think about the presentation of the offer.

Here you can already invest more in websites, platforms, influencers, special videos, advanced marketing funnels and all kinds of super fancy materials to put your offer in a positive light.

Here you can start investing in creating a visual identity and initiate your future brand:

  • market positioning
  • value proposition
  • marketing message
  • communication style
  • tonality and voice
  • marketing elements: logo, colors, fonts, sounds, images, graphics, videos, accessories, posters, banners, media appearances, etc.

The purpose of presenting the offer is to put you in the best and most realistic light in front of the potential client.

Here we work on consumer perception.

To be perceived in the market the way you want, you need to invest in various “assets” like those mentioned above.

The idea is to reduce the degree of reluctance as much as possible and increase the level of trust in the brand.

You can consider things like:

  • reviews
  • press appearances
  • recommendation
  • Partnerships
  • Influencer

“Reputations take years to build and can be ruined in minutes. “

  • Warren Buffett

Take care of your image and turn to professionals to help give you a clear and appropriate direction so that you have the best chance of winning.

8. Promotion of the offer

There are 4 ways to promote your offer:

  1. You contact the people you know
  2. You get referrals from acquaintances/influencers/satisfied customers
  3. Attract potential customers to you (through advertising or organically)

Here the possibilities, strategies and tactics are limitless.

You can promote in various ways.

“The devil is in the details”

This might be the time to turn to an expert or a team of experts in the marketing area to help you with promotion.

There is the option of doing online or offline marketing.

When you are at the beginning of the journey I recommend the following steps:

  • choose a single communication channel (ex: Facebook)
  • invest in ads to grow your followers fast
  • quickly make 20-50 posts to fill the page with attractive and valuable content
  • get real 5 star page reviews as fast as possible
  • keep posting constant content (minimum 3 times / week) about your business, domain and topics of interest to your target audience
  • invest in advertising to attract customers (leads or sales)

PRO Type:

  • make a list of 100+ problems people have with your products/services
  • solve each problem with a distinct post (this way you have constant valuable content that helps you sell and not just attract eyes)

Check out my Facebook Ads tutorial:

And watch the other videos on my Youtube channel for more useful information.

9. Optimize

After you have validated the offer, you have the presentation of the offer as it should be, you have promotion and an active presence in front of potential consumers, it is time to optimize.

Optimizing is something you can and should do consistently until the end of the business.

There is always room for better.

You can always make it more and better and less expensive and more profitable.

At this stage I recommend you invest in a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy will provide you with clarity, vision, short, medium and long term planning.

**if you want to start like the book, maybe you should invest in the marketing strategy right after you validate the offer; it’s just that most entrepreneurs need money as quickly as possible for cash flow and survival; that’s why I thought it’s not a good time to invest in the strategy at the beginning

Basically, if you do the steps above you might not even need the strategy. But here comes a problem:

  • scaling

If you want to scale your business, marketing strategy won’t just be for you. It will be for everyone.

It is easy for you to understand what you have to do and what needs to be done. A marketing strategy will provide clarity for both you and your team.

Everything that needs to happen is beautifully structured in the strategy.

The basic strategy is nothing more than allocating resources in the best possible way to reach the goals as simply, quickly and profitably as possible.

10. Scale

To scale you need resources and people. People need directions, procedures, goals, accountability.

This is where you should invest in the main pillars of your team:

  • general manager: a technical, organized person with very good leadership, communication and persuasion skills
  • your departments: marketing, finance, support, etc.

This stage takes place over 1 – 2 or more years. As I said, this article is for beginners. The scalability part is probably not a necessity at the moment, but it should be considered in the future.

I wanted to mention it so that it would be better to see what all the stages of this journey would be.

On my blog you can find other useful articles and resources that can help you. I invite you to read them.

And if what you’ve read so far has been useful to you, your support would help me through a follow, like, testimonial, recommendation or anything you think could support the activity I’m doing.