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How do I market my business?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:53 02 July 2010

Knowing your customers and preparation are key, says NWES business advisor Richard Salmon

Marketing is one of the most important elements of any business.

The business advisor

Richard Salmon, NWES

Question: I have launched my business, but how do I go about marketing it?

Marketing is one of the most important elements of any business.

Naturally some business owners think that in difficult times it is an area in which money can be saved.

This is a short-term view that can precipitate a downturn in the business rather than prevent it.

In fact during times of economic difficulties the need to gain new business and sell effectively to an existing base of customers is paramount.

With the above in mind, what is the best way to market yourself?

You may recognise themes from my previous columns, which is because they are important for a successful business.

The first concept to revisit is that it is important to put a plan together with a clear structure of how you are going to approach marketing your business. So what should be in this plan?

I strongly believe that before you can start to write the plan you need to understand your potential customers.

You will need to understand who your ideal customers are and what they need and want both now and in the future.

This can be carried out via market research. If you have existing customers then talk to them.

Business owners know their product or service better than anyone and usually promote it in a way they understand. Successful businesses promote in a way that their customers understand.

Once you have looked at your ideal customer base you can split it further via segmentation of your market.

An example of this is a photographer. They could just market themselves to everyone or could think of specific segments, e.g. couples looking to marry, parents with young children and industries that use a great deal of photography, like fashion.

When this has been done it is an easier task to focus your marketing on these specific segments.

So now you have identified what your market is, segmented it and researched it. You can now start to define the place where you can market yourself, exactly what products or services you will offer and the type of promotion you will use, i.e. introduction letters, print, website. This list will be long and should include some free marketing such as press releases or competitions.

The above can be expanded on and is in no way exhaustive but again the key word is planning.

Once you have your plan in place ensure you monitor the outcomes. This could be specific to the advertising such as five leads from a piece of advertising or a 25pc growth in the year the plan covers.

So plan it out and follow it through. Good luck!

About NWES

NWES has been helping and advising start-up businesses since 1982. For more information visit www.nwes.org.uk, call 0845 6099991 or visit Norwich Enterprise Centre, Guildhall Hill, Norwich.

Ask the Experts

Are you running a business and need advice on a tricky issue? Or are you thinking of becoming your own boss but not sure if it's for you? Then the Evening News Panel of Experts is here to help.

The panel - all experts in their fields - can answer questions ranging from problems with tax returns and affordable IT to general business advice, the benefits of green practices and how to deal with the emotions of going it alone.

Do you have a question for the panel? Email Evening News senior business writer Sam Williams at sam.williams@archant.co.uk.

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