While you might think that your little home business isn’t worth the planning
of a big one, you may be changing your mind at this point.
So, let’s talk about how you’re going to find out who wants to buy your
product and what your target audience wants from a service or product from
Marketing is your tool to create interest and commitment from your
customers for your product. It goes beyond advertising and flashy jingles
and looks directly at a customer’s wants and needs.
Before you begin your home business, you will need to assess the needs of
your customers through market research. You can do this by asking your
potential customers what they’re looking for in a product like yours or looking
at your competitors to see their prices. By examining your competitors, you
are seeing if there are any holes in their business plan that you may be able
to fill with your own creative solutions.
The findings will help you create a marketing strategy whereby you fill these
voids. This is a step in which you are finding ways to make yourself stand
above the rest of those in your field. And you are also helping to reduce the
risk of your business not working out.
Since you will have limited money available to do aggressive marketing, you
will want to zero in with target marketing. This is finding a select group of
interested buyers and sending them information about your product or
service because you know that they are already interested. This can be done
with sales and promotions, offering prices that are well below the
competitors, and easy access to services.
What you may want to consider is that your prices should be slightly higher if
you are offering more services to go along with your business. This means
that individual attention should be factored into your pricing scheme. If you
can still be below the competitors, then great, but don’t shortchange yourself
And you should be evaluating how your marketing strategy is going on a
regular basis. Check your cash flow and see if certain techniques worked
better than others. You may find that raising your prices makes a customer
more willing to buy because of the perceived increased value. Take note of
that and adjust your plans. The trick is not to adjust too much or you may
seem fickle in your pricing.
Marketing constantly is essential to making your business visible and viable
to the current economy, so make sure that you are finding ways and
researching ideas on a daily basis.
LOOKING AT YOUR COMPETITORS
Looking a little deeper into your competition not only shows you ways to
make your own business better, but it also helps you understand the
consumers as well.
While you’re probably not going to be able to find everyone’s business plans,
you should be able to find a few things out about your competition rather
easily. As mentioned before, a survey of customers is helpful to see what
people are saying, rather than what the business is saying that they provide.
The customer is always right and the customer should be the first one that
you talk to.
You can do this by having questionnaires sent out to a target audience, or an
email will work too (as long as you have obtained the addresses in a legal
way). You might want to start up a website for your soon-to-be business
and see what visitors are looking for in a service like yours. The results can
be astounding. Offer a free newsletter or some little gift in exchange and
you will get even more responses.
Next, you’ll want to determine who your local competitors are. Make a list of
their names and addresses and the services that they provide. Perhaps they
have websites as well. Look at them, see what they provide. See how
everyone is different, or where they are the same. Analyze their business as
you were a customer.
Are you satisfied or could they do more?
Write down their strengths and their weaknesses to get a clearer picture of
what you may be up against. And don’t be catty, but be honest. There may
be things that they are doing right that you may be able to take notes on.
Check of their sales (if you can) to see how the overall market is doing for
your desired home business. Does it seem to be over-saturated or is it in
need of something better? Just because there are a lot of competitors does
not necessarily mean that you are in the wrong business, but it may mean
that you have to become a unique fixture as opposed to the same old.
To further investigate your competitors, you should be looking into their
advertising and their stands at local trade shows. Look at everything that
they are doing and try to see how they are being successful. Find out who
works for them and see if you can attend their presentations or speeches.
Try to get an overall view of your competitors so that you have a better idea
where you fit in or if you need to refine your overall plan.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE ADVERTISING
For any business, getting the word out is important because you can’t expect
people to look for you. You need to get into the minds of your consumers
and create interest in your product.
To do this, you’ll want to understand the reasoning behind advertising your
services. Of course you know that you’re spreading the word, but you’re also
keeping the ‘word’ in your target audience’s minds. By gently reminding
your customers of your presence, you’re establishing a reflex in their
You also create a sense of identity with your advertising. Your business is
highlighted for the products and services that it has and wants to sell to
others. You’re helping to maintain the customers that you already have as
well as attract new customers to replace any that you may have lost.
You are also using advertising in order to create a presence in the market
among your competitors. You may even attract interest of larger companies
and potential investors with a well planned advertising campaign.
But you might think that with your limited budget, you won’t be able to do
anything that will attract the attention that you want to attract. This is okay.
When you’re first beginning a home business, you want to grow slowly and
steadily instead of all at once. You want to start with a small market and
then let your services speak for themselves. If the word of mouth does not
happen, then you’ll need to try a larger advertising strategy.
Advertising is not a guarantee that you will bring in customers and it does
take time to plan and create. Many times small businesses forgo this step in
order to focus on their product; but if no one knows that it exists, then you
can’t grow as a business.
Advertising is something that is completely under your control to change as
you see fit. If you create a logo or a presence with your advertising; that
will reflect in the outcome of your overall business structure and you will
Attack your advertising plan like you did with your business plan. Decide
who you want to speak to with your ads and then create a budget and a plan
to do so. Create goals for your advertising and if you do not meet them or
you exceed them, adjust your strategy accordingly.
Advertising is a fluid process that should adjust to the ups and downs of the