If you’re a business owner and in your second year of operations, then congratulations; not many small businesses survive past this point. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Office of Advocacy’s Frequently Asked Questions (2018), eight out of ten small businesses do not survive past 18 months of operating.
So what is it that’s causing most of these businesses to fail? Forbes chalks it up to a handful of problems, including pricing problems and having the correct team chemistry. Most notably, two problems appear to be the biggest contributing factors:
- A lack of marketing research
- Not investing in a marketing strategy before launching the business
Marketing & Advertising Are Not the Same Thing
It?s a common misconception that marketing and advertising are the same thing. The reality is that advertising is really just a form of marketing, and doesn’t encompass the breadth of marketing. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.?
From this definition, we can break down why marketing is so important for businesses up front:
- Establishing communication with customers
- Creating valuable offerings to fill a market need
- Identifying the target audiences
Great Communication Leads to Great Engagement
Having a great product or service is essential to a successful business, but if you can’t engage with your audience then the quality of your products & services doesn?t matter. Creating how your business communicates with your audience can be the competitive edge you need, especially before opening your doors to the public.
Great communication is more than just figuring out what to say, it’s establishing your business as a brand. Many new businesses tend to think of branding as an afterthought, or as a step in a longer linear sequence of events. If that sounds like you, it’s time to change the way you think about your business.
The purpose of branding is to establish your values, your purpose, and the promises you’re willing to make to your customers. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle is an excellent way to approach branding. He explains that understanding “WHY” you’re in business and using that as your way of communicating with your audience is infinitely more inspiring than leading with the ?What? or ?How? of your business.
If you’re going to compete, then taking the time to go through a dedicated branding exercise and establishing a well-researched strategy can empower your business to be timely and timelessly successful.
Market Research Can Make or Break Your Business
Timing is everything, and that’s completely true for your business. While developing your business plan, if you aren’t taking the time to research your audience, the market need that your products or services fill, or understanding your competition, you may be left in the dust – and much more quickly than you might expect. Market research is not an afterthought for your business plan – it IS your business plan. Especially if you discover that the data behind your research is telling you to wait a few years – or to revisit your products and services.
Marketing Research doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, expensive process. In fact it can be performed by you, and without expense. Here are some great ways to understand the market, your audience, and potential obstacles well before you pull the trigger:
- Whether online, direct mail, or in-person, a well constructed survey can give you a lot of valuable insights about market need for your products and services as well as how your audience perceives them.
- Creating an event for discussion about your products & services with people in your target audience, or people you perceive as your target audience is an excellent way to gain subjective insights.
- Always make sure to set up a neutral location and have a moderator lead discussions so that you?re not influencing the direction or results of the discussion.
- Similar to focus groups, personal interviews are a great way to gain subjective data and feelings about your products & services.
- Interviews are one-on-one, and often administered by a neutral third party.
- While the data is not statistically reliable, the insights that you gain reflect more in the way of first impressions, attitude, and feelings which can help give direction to empirical data.
- Knowing who your direct competition is in your market and how they perform can provide you with insights on marketing opportunities that your competition may not be utilizing.
Don’t Rush Your Marketing Strategy
If you haven’t considered your marketing strategy for your business, don?t worry! It?s not too late. The statistics are staggering, but that doesn’t mean you can?t start working on your marketing now. If you’ve read this and feel like you have to solve these problems right away – that’s a great idea, but don’t rush a process and cut corners just to get it done. Taking the time to create a marketing & branding strategy can save your business, and a lot of money!
Do you have questions about marketing or brand strategy? Robot Logic Marketing can help. Schedule a call with us and let’s talk about your brand strategy today.