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Practical Marketing Tips for New Entrepreneurs

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Comment The Post Below...

Greetings,

It can be hard for new entrepreneurs to market their great 
ideas. Today's article offers some practical marketing tips 
to help out those businessmen and women just entering the 
working world. 
 
Best,
Mandi

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Practical Marketing Tips For New Entrepreneurs 

Many would-be entrepreneurs have great ideas for 
products and services, but often they don't know 
how to market them. SCORE Counselors to America's 
Small Business, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., 
offers advice on marketing and a range of other 
topics through its 389 offices across the U.S. We 
talked to Ken Yancey, SCORE's chief executive 
officer, about tips for new start-ups. Before 
joining the organization, he focused on the small-
business market as an executive in banking in 
Dallas for eight years. Here are excerpts from our 
conversation.

What's the most common question you get about 
marketing from new business owners? 

The most common question is: How do I create 
awareness, buzz and drive traffic to my business 
products or services? There are any number of ways 
that can be done. There's traditional advertising 
promotion through newspapers, the Yellow Pages and 
other things of that nature. 

Today you absolutely need a quality presence on 
the Internet, and that needs to be crisp, clean 
and informative. Consumers need answers to quest-
ions quickly, and, online, it's just like the 
telephone. People have the same high expectations 
in dealing with your business. They need to get 
answers to their questions quickly. They need to 
know what products or services you offer, how to 
find them and what differentiates you from your 
competition. 

How do most new businesses get their first customer? 

The first customers typically come in via word-of-
mouth. It could be a referral from a friend, 
neighbor, colleague or other businesses owner who 
let people know in conversation that your business 
is opening. As you're getting ready to open, it 
certainly makes sense to distribute information 
about it by making personal visits to potential 
customers, and letting them know that your 
business is opening on a certain date. 

It's also a good time to consider the value of 
membership with your local chamber of commerce, 
because the chambers often promote new-business 
openings within their community. 

What are the biggest challenges in landing that 
first customer? 

As a new business owner, you need to constantly 
promote your business or service in every avail-
able venue. You have limited time and often have 
limited funds. It would be wise to get assistance 
from a mentor or coach and to reach out to others 
who have expertise or who have been successful in 
opening a business previously. These could include 
friends, organizations like SCORE, the U.S. Small 
Business Administration's Small Business Develop-
ment Centers and your local chamber of commerce. 

...If you're launching an independent consulting 
business, you want to target organizations of a 
size that would need your expertise. Make a list, 
and start calling each one at a time. Ask for 
referrals from colleagues and follow up on every 
one. Once you get your first client, ask that 
person for referrals and a letter of recommend-
ation. 

What are some common marketing mistakes that new 
business owners make? 

One mistake would be creating marketing messages 
that do not accurately describe your products or 
services. It could be jargon that might not be 
understood by potential customers. It might be 
vague and not provide enough detail for a potent-
ial customer to understand. Or, it might be too 
specific, and customers won't understand that you 
offer a range of services or products.

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...Judson Lovering, owner of The Baker's Peel, a 
specialty bakery business in Exeter, N.H., started 
out in 1994 spending his marketing dollars on 
every product he offered. He wasn't focusing on 
the products that were most successful, and when 
you're promoting your business, you want to focus 
on what generates the greatest return. He said he 
felt he was doing everything right, but the results 
were just not what he'd been counting on. So to 
rectify the situation, he refocused his marketing 
dollars on his top few most popular products, and 
sales quadrupled. 

How can new business owners avoid these snafus? 

You want to completely understand who your 
customer is and the need that you are fulfilling. 
This will allow you to provide concise and accur-
ate information that drives the potential 
customer to your business. Test your marketing 
message on a mentor, adviser, coach or someone 
who you believe represents your customer base. 
Ask them specific questions about whether or not 
the message gets across.

What do new business owners usually do well in 
regard to marketing? 

Often small-business owners are active and 
visible within their communities. They create 
positive relationships with local media. They are 
civically active, so that their commitment to the 
community shows beyond just their business. What 
they also do well, and that's important, is 
developing and executing a marketing plan, and 
monitoring their results and adjusting as 
necessary. 

You want to play to your strengths. If that 
doesn't achieve the desired result, then it's 
certainly time to look at other opportunities 
and work on developing other tools, techniques 
and capabilities to promote your business.

...John Sortino, owner of The Vermont Teddy Bear 
Co. Inc. in Shelburne, Vt., originally attempted 
to market his custom-made teddy bears through 
local stores. When that didn't work as well as he 
intended, he began selling them from a push-cart 
in downtown Burlington. His bears then became 
popular, and he began wholesaling them to special-
ty stores. He also changed his marketing materials 
so that they talked about the quality of the bears 
-- how they have 14 stitches per inch and are 
American made. By promoting their unique traits, 
he differentiated his bears from all others on the 
market. 

What marketing challenges can first-time business 
owners expect? 

For new business owners to be prepared, they need 
to include a detailed marketing plan as part of 
their overall business plan and strategy. The 
plan would consider different marketing or promo-
tional alternatives, costs and budgets, and the 
resulting plan would be appropriate for a business 
that has taken all factors into account. 

A marketing plan should include a market analysis, 
which is an analysis of the potential customers 
and the area you're targeting. You want to find 
out who your customers are going to be, their 
income level and all the demographics of the 
surrounding area. Say you're planning to open a 
fine-dining establishment in a neighborhood where 
the average income is relatively low. Then you're 
opening a business that could possibly be 
challenged from the start. Your marketing plan 
also should include a good analysis of your 
competition. You need to research the strengths 
and weaknesses of your competitors and their 
products or services. 

Then you can start developing your marketing 
messages. You want to base them on your analysis 
of your target customer and competition, and 
consider the various delivery mechanisms, such as 
paid advertising, public relations and the Web.

What's the best way to market a new business with-
out spending a lot? 

Word-of-mouth remains a good way to drive traffic, 
but it doesn't work by itself. You can't rely on 
that as your sole way of getting business. 
Distributing press releases about new products or 
services often provides quality exposure in local 
newspapers or other publications at low or no cost. 
You could write educational articles for trade 
journals or newspapers, and make yourself available 
to speak at local functions, service clubs or other 
gatherings. 

...When Julie Hagenmaier started My Girl Friday, 
a personal-concierge service in Cincinnati, she 
asked her first few clients to promote her 
business to other potential clients. She also 
pitched her story to the press, which led to a 
series of articles in local newspapers and a 
story in a national women's magazine. 

--------------------------------------------------
Author Sarah Needleman is an associate editor at 
StartupJournal.com.
--------------------------------------------------

DID YOU KNOW?

If your business is growing quickly, your expenses
are also growing quickly, giving you even more 
reasons to pay closer attention to your collections.
If you aren't receiving customer payments in a 
timely fashion, you may soon be bankrupt.

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a 
line and let me know at mandi@gophercentral.com 

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Copyright 2006 PENN L.L.C.   All rights reserved. 

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