For many, marketing your start-up or small business can be all too confusing. The best way to get past this mental block is to ignore the jargon and call it something else. It is very easy to get hung-up on the skills we don’t have but think we need; and courses we didn’t take that we wish we had done. If you have a good idea or product – you’re already most of the way there.
The traditional marketing buzz words can create unwanted noise around what should be the simplest time for you and your business (before aggro customers and finding the ever elusive work/life balance.) For example: ‘channel analysis’ is basically: “who am I going to tell and how are they going to find out?” Something that can be written on the back of a Tesco receipt while your little one is running riot at softplay, not into a 100 page marketing plan.
The most important thing for me is that you throw away the thesaurus and ditch the jargon. Make sure all of your product marketing, website text and press material passes the ‘elderly relative test’. If your parents/grandparents can’t grasp the idea or understand your proposition then you need to simplify (unless it’s a state of the art web solution in which case I’ll let you off!) Take a Dyson vacuum. Some of the most innovative and complex patents have been registered for those products over recent years. Yet their ‘bagless technology’, lightweight design and manoeuvrability around a modern home continue to be the main selling points. Concepts that are easily understood by anyone who’s ever owner a vacuum cleaner and nearly broken their back lifting it out from under the stairs.
One of the basic mistakes to avoid is trying to grow too quickly. A very well known product or entrepreneur in a local area is preferable (in the beginning) to an idea that didn’t gain any traction on a wider scale. Network locally; speak to customers and friends as well as local influencers on twitter or in the local press. The confidence you can build by being a big fish in a small pond should not be underestimated. Get some sales under your belt, gain followers, test your idea, your website and your suppliers then seek the positive PR you deserve before repeating…on a bigger scale.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim to be a national or international force. I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t take time to plan or learn the marketing theory that will take your business onto great things. What I am saying is please don’t be put off by the terminology, the qualifications or the competition – you can promote your business in a simple and effective way, in the channels you regularly read and use as a consumer. And once you’ve mastered that, make sure you raise a glass to your success before going after your next milestone.
Nathan Wallis is Senior Marketing and Communications Manager for a public services company with contracts in the UK and abroad. A Telford man, father to Harrison (14 months) and bump (due September 2013), he is passionate about communications, cars and films.