This is our third installment of our four weeks to start your own business. If you missed our prior weeks, you can read Week One here and read Week Two here. Up to this point you should have taken care of most of the foundation building for your new business, including creating a business plan, setting up a web site and obtaining the required licenses and permits. This week we will work on developing marketing and social media plans and start getting the word out about your new business. So, let’s get started on how to start a home based business, week 3!
Week 3 – Day 1: Create a Marketing Plan
Everyone knows they need to do marketing to grow their business, but often they fail to actually put time, thought and planning into marketing. Failing to have a well thought out plan means you often end up drifting from one marketing idea to the next and waste not only time but money in the process. The first step in setting up a marketing plan is to understand who needs or wants your products and services.
The 3 Tiers of Non-Customers
Our first impulse when we are thinking about our customers is to categorize everyone as a customer. Resist this urge. Instead think of your potential customers in the following three tiers. Tier one is the people who know they need and want your product and are probably seeking your product out. Next is your second tier customers. They may not even know they are looking for your product, but once they do they will be fairly easy to turn into customers. The third tier are people who might find some value in your product, but they are not ready to buy. They will probably need some extra motivation to become customers. As you move forward you want to concentrate most of your efforts on your first tier audience.
You will want all of your marketing efforts to reach your first tier customers, those that reach both first and second tier are best. If a marketing effort will only reach your third tier of potential customers, don’t waste your time or effort. Reaching that third tier should only be a bi-product of your efforts to market to that first and second tier.
As you are thinking about your first and second tier customers, start thinking about what defines these people. Are your customers busy moms that need a way to save time, are they students looking for an edge, are they busy working folks? Think about what those first tier people are looking to get out of your product and write those things down.
Once you have created a picture of why your customers are looking for your product, you next want to figure out what kind of media they are most likely encounter and seek out. Are these people who will be reading magazines, looking at social media, listening to the radio? You want to put the different kinds of media that will reach your target audience into tiers also; this will help you stay focused on where you want to concentrate your efforts. Make sure you include blogs,vlogs, podcasts, social media and other non-traditional media in your list. Nontraditional media can be incredibly powerful.No matter how good the deal, don’t spend time or money on media that is in your third tier, it isn’t just a waste of money it is also a waste of time.
End of Day 1 – Week 3
By the end of the first day of your third week building your business you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who is my customer?
- Why do they want my product or service?
- What kind of media is the best way to reach them?
Your marketing plan might be simple at this point, but you will have a direction and an easy way to determine if something fits into your marketing plan or not.
Week 3 – Day 2: Activate your network.
Many people don’t realize just how powerful their own personal network is. If you are worried about asking your friends and family to buy your product or use your service, don’t. Instead ask them for referrals. When you talk to your friends and family about your new venture, make a phone call. In our digital age we often forget how powerful a tool the phone is. If your friends and family that don’t talk on the phone go ahead and email them or contact them on social media, but make sure your friends and family know about your new business.
Week 3 – Day 3: Create a social media image.
Social media is now a regular part of modern life. Every business needs to have a consistent image across all of the social media platforms you use. You don’t have to be on every platform, but make sure you have curated your profile on each of the platforms you are on to make sure you are projecting a consistent message and brand. Upload your logo’s and be aware that you are doing more than just sharing the word about your business, you are creating a brand.
Week 3 – Day 4: Develop a marketing plan for your social media.
Once you have set up all of your social media for your business, come up with a well thought out plan for marketing with your social media. Keep in mind that if you ask for people to buy too often they might get turned off. You want to ask for action, but this action could be feedback or sharing. In your marketing plan make sure you include how you will respond to questions. Your plan shouldn’t just be how you’re going to reach out to spread the word about your business, but also how you’ll respond to questions and interactions on social media. You can’t have a plan for social media engagement that ends with ask for feedback. Plan how you will respond to the feedback.
Week 3 – Day 5: The press release.
In the digital era, people discount the power of an old fashioned press release. Write up a press release about the start of your business. Make sure you answer these basic questions:
- who you are
- what you offer
- when your hours of operation are
- where your business or products can be found
- why your company is the best option to meet peoples need
- how people can get in contact with your business
You will want to send this to local newspapers, both daily and weeklies, radio stations and televised new outlets. Remember even if your press release isn’t published or put on the air, often these do go on media websites, which can provide you with valuable links to your website.
Week 3 – Day 6: The HARO report.
Media outlets of all varieties, such as podcasts, magazines, blogs, television and papers all submit to this one report for their interview needs. This report is emailed three times a day listing these needs to experts like you. If you see an interview you are a fit for, you respond.
Pro Tip: the outlet requesting the interview are not always identified so you will want to respond to all HARO request that fit for you and your business.
Since this is free media exposure you want to get in front of any audience available from the report. Remember the media requesting these interviews have already determined that their audience is interested.
Week 3 – Day 7: Set up guest appearances on podcasts and blogs.
On the first day of this week you wrote down all of the different media that your clients might consume. Believe it or not a lot of blogs, vlogs and podcasts are constantly on the lookout for content. They will jump at the opportunity for free content. But before you pitch yourself as a guest on a podcast or as a guest blogger, qualify yourself and write a pitch. Tell the blog owner, vlogger or podcaster about yourself, your expertise and what you bring to their media forum that their customers want to know about.
Now you have the third week under your belt. Have a moment, feel proud of what you have accomplished so far and get ready for week four.