Sales and Marketing

Promotion is a never-ending task for businesses and online marketing is now at the heart of many business’s efforts. When done well, it can help to attract and retain large numbers of customers, often for relatively modest investment. Online marketing involves making best use of your website (including optimising it for search). Other options include:

  • email marketing;
  • online and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising;
  • affiliate marketing;
  • content marketing (including blogging);
  • mobile marketing and apps;
  • social networking on sites including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Plus.

Key offline marketing options include advertising, direct mail, leafleting, public relations (PR) and face-to-face networking, including at trade shows and exhibitions.

The most potent advertising of all comes from customers – so it pays to offer excellent customer service if you want word of mouth recommendations. Handle bad feedback and deal with complaints professionally to avoid negative publicity that could undermine your image. Once you know which customers you’re targeting and how, you can put together a marketing plan, which sets out your objectives and explains your approach (marketing strategy).

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Sales

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow – they are key elements of marketing. The right sales strategy and effective selling techniques can make the difference between a business that gets by and one that thrives.

You can identify sales expectations  for the months ahead in a detailed sales strategy. This helps you to tie sales and marketing activities together: for example, with both sales and promotional campaigns to support a new product launch.

Sales budgets can be used to both forecast cashflow and track sales performance, helping you to confidently make informed decisions related to your business and motivate and reward successful salespeople.

There are plenty of resources available online to either provide you a template to create your own sales forecast or the Solent LEP Growth Hub team can directly connect you with someone who can provide hands on support.

Marketing

If you think marketing isn’t important for start-ups, think again. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy. Marketing helps a new business to become known, and to attract and retain customers so it can survive and grow. Effective marketing is underpinned by sound knowledge of the market. Only by knowing exactly what your customers want can you hope to lure them away from your competitors.

Market research for your start-up business doesn’t need to be complex or expensive – a simple conversation with potential customers can be highly revealing. Find out what they think about your products and prices, and whether any of their needs are not currently being served. Ask also what they think of your brand. Market research isn’t complete unless you weigh up the competition. Start by searching online to find out who you are up against, what they offer and how. If possible, ask their customers what they really think about the service they receive from your rivals. Crucially – ask what you could do to be better than them.

If you identify a segment that isn’t already being served – caution is advised. Others might have found it impossible to run a viable business serving that niche.
Marketing success is underpinned by the Four Ps: Product; Price; Place (ie distribution channel); and Promotion. They form the ‘marketing mix’. Get the right combination and you’ll maximise your success. You also need strong messages and a unique selling proposition (USP) that convinces customers to buy from you and not another supplier.