10 Step-by-Step Business Startup Guide: Step 10

By Dave J

STEP 10: Sales and Marketing

Read any autobiography or business success story, you’ll notice one common denominator for success – sales. You need to take whatever action possible to ensure that sales are consistently growing to allow you to gain profit.

Again, a word of caution; do not target everyone! In today’s competitive environment, consumers are becoming more demanding and many would seek out products/services that meet their specific need or want.

First and foremost, I need to identify (and do some in-depth research) my specific target market. Next, I would develop sales and marketing blueprint ( similar to the one shown in DAY 8 ) to attract the kind of customers I wanted and meantime, to retain existing customers.

No matter how I intend to plan and execute these strategies, I must understand the formula – executing these plans is like playing a game. What game…? Yes, you are correct – the number game. The higher the number of sales agents/staffs, or the higher is the amount of advertisement posted, or the higher the amount of distribution channels, or the more attempts I personally made to seal a deal, the bigger chances I have in winning. I know for sure, a prospect or a client may say “no” to my product/service today. But, it doesn’t mean a “no” forever! According to LIMRA (a research center for financial planners and financial advisors in America) findings, a potential buyer usually says “no” seven times before making the actual purchase!

Before we move on, let’s understand first the relationship between sales and marketing. Marketing is the process of bringing awareness to the product/service, while sales is the process of making the customer buy the product/service.

Therefore, I am going to analyze eight sales and marketing strategies to increase my probability of winning:

1. Myself

2. Network marketing

3. Affiliate marketing

4. Online sales

5. Marketing materials

6. Direct mail

7. Advertisement

8. Outsourcing

Myself

The first approach is the most affordable yet effective strategy. It is made up of all the possible resources that I already have to generate sales and create awareness. These are some ideas that I would usually work on:

* Preparing a list of 200 or 300 list of target prospects, call them up, present to them how the product/service could benefit them and seal the deal

* Getting referrals from existing customers and reward them once the deal is closed

* Designing, printing marketing materials (i.e. brochure, flyer, discount card) and distributing them at local businesses, schools, community centers, newsstands, cafes and fitness centers

* Writing an article and pitch it to local publications as well as posting it online to newsgroup/newsletter

* Giving out trial services or free product samples

* Talking about the business to everyone that I come to interact. To do this I must place my business passion before my ego. If not, I’ll have difficulty in opening his mouth

Networking Marketing

The sky is the limit when it comes to marketing and selling the benefits of the product/service. Networking is a great, super low in cost to connect with potential customers as well as strategic business associates and spread the news about the business.

The chamber of commerce, local business association or elite business club are great venues for networking. They can connect me to an ecosystem of members who are all looking for business opportunity in addition to getting the right sources of product/service. Often times these associations hold events, offer industry-specific education and message boards online, and provide an opportunity for members to list their businesses on their Website.

Affiliate Marketing

This is not a new jargon. It means engaging freelance agent to do the promotion and sales, online. It is a popular marketing approach where E-commerce Website owners engage existing customers, visitors or even organizations that are willing to promote and sell the product/service for a stipulated commission. The role of a freelance agent (known as affiliate), is to direct traffic to the Website and ultimately when a sale is made, commission is credited into the affiliate’s account.

Website owners usually recruit affiliates by simply advertising online (usually through Google Adwords; a per-per-click search engine advertisement), and placing interesting ads (with bombastic headlines) or sending out recruitment announcement to thousands of bulk emails (purchased from database provider). This is a powerful yet cost effective method of generating sales if owners are involved in Internet-based business.

Online Sales

Regardless of the kind of business these days, I always find a Website is essential. And depending upon the business niche and objectives, it can be a major part of the company’s sales and marketing initiatives. Designing a Website can be made fairly simple by working with a company that specializes in helping small businesses create their Website or get Website DIY software available online.

It’s vital to own a Website that is effective in content. It’s not what the contents say, but how the contents say it that makes all the difference online. Establishing credibility is the formula – attach as many testimonials as you could. Usually, I would give out my product/service to people that I already know, get them test it and immediately get their testimonials. I never wait till I launch the product/service in the market to get testimonial – too time consuming!

Customers expect the world and are suspicious of almost everything. The content (words) must be crisp and intelligent. What the Website says should grab visitors’ attention, pique their interest and motivate them to action – to click the “buy now” button.

Search engine optimization and search engine advertising are two ways to get the business marketing message out on the Internet, and there is a big difference between the two in terms of cost. Banner ads are another way to do online marketing, although the opinion on their effectiveness is very subjective. If owners lack Internet knowledge, it is highly recommended to employ a company or a freelance Website designer to get the job done.

Marketing Materials

This may sound a little basic but it is vital to have all the basic marketing tools. Printed materials like business cards, letterhead and brochures should be a staple in any business. It’s essential for business communication and networking. The key to developing good marketing materials without breaking the bank is to identify an affordable graphic designer and low-cost printer. I normally engage a freelance designer to get all of them done.

Direct Mail

For many fresh entrepreneurs, there is no better way to reach their target market, than mailing literature directly to homes. Based on effective market research, entrepreneurs can identify their core market, assign them certain codes and obtain mailing lists to directly send them literature on the company profile, discount, coupons or other information. To optimize any direct mail strategy, entrepreneurs should consider retaining a direct mailer or bulk mail house company.

Alternatively, entrepreneurs can collect the information themselves by:

* Getting customers sign a guest book

* Obtaining customer feedback

* Purchasing mailing lists from community newspapers, chambers or other associations

* Retaining a list broker to customize a list

Advertisement

Advertising is one of the fastest ways to create awareness of the company, product or service. However, it can be relatively expensive for many startup owners. Before anyone spend money on advertising, however, it’s crucial to understand what advertising can and cannot do for the business, and draw up a blueprint for moving ahead. Here are four main functions of advertising:

* Triggering the curiosity of the public and attract new customers

* Persuading existing customers to spend more or keep coming back

* Establishing credibility, elevate branding status and creating unique business identity

* Reinforcing customers and prospects on the benefits of the brand, product or service

Advertisement cannot do one thing for sure – guarantee sales. Hence, placing up an advertisement campaign doesn’t mean a surge in sales or revenue.

Assuming budget is not an issue, I would definitely invest in an effective advertisement campaign. Therefore, I would create an advertising plan that fit into my budget plan in advance before committing to it.

Outsourcing

One simple and straight forward method that I would not miss out is outsourcing the sales of my product/service to an outsider. It’s easy, get the yellow pages (online or offline), search for marketing agencies, call them up and propose a joint venture (JV) with them in selling my product/service for a commission in return. The JV works perfectly as I am in charge of promoting and marketing the product/service as well as providing after sales service, and the agencies are only responsible for selling them. Most marketing agencies just want to focus on selling.

I would discuss with these agencies to attain a win-win joint venture – a remuneration system that allows them profit from each sale, while I could earn a healthy margin from each sale made. When it comes to negotiating an agreement, the rule is, the higher the commission I offer, the more excited these agencies are in taking up the JV.

In the ten-step process, I spend most of my time in preparation. Preparation is more important than rushing to getting the business open. Thus, if you are already in the process of starting up your business, stop whatever you are doing and put on your thinking cap. Sort out all the preparations you need to do for your business to ensure an effective startup.

I hope the journal could be of helpful to you in many ways. I have also taken an extra effort to include a SAMPLE BUSINESS PLAN (in the following pages) on how to startup an E-commerce business for your further understanding.

*Note: Unproven teories to not be shown to my readers! If you need any small business startup help, feel free to visit my Website 🙂

=> To get the complete online business course on small business startup guide, log on to http://www.12daysonly.com , and redeem your BONUS PACKAGE worth US$1,396.00



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About the Author: Dave J, is an E-preneur, NLP-Certified Business Coach and Author. Dave J has served as an advisor to countless small-level to high-level business leaders around the world. Read more about Dave J at, http://www.12daysonly.com

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Link: 10 Step-by-Step Business Startup Guide: Step 10