Yaneek Page, Contributor
I have read your articles and see where you have helped many entrepreneurs, and I would love for you to give me some advice. I just started a meat shop in a country area that services about five other communities. I would like to know how I can get my business established so people will know what I am offering and the price, thereby creating more sales for me. Many people believe that to get good prices they have to go into the town and I want to change that. I can't afford media advertising now, so what else would you suggest. Thanks in advance.
BUSINESSWISE: The first step to getting the word out about your business to boost sales and build your customer base is to prepare a marketing plan. It may sound academic and you're probably thinking: 'How can I, the head cook and bottlewasher of my new business with no expertise in marketing, create this plan? Why do I even need to spend time doing it when my budget is minimal?' - all valid concerns.
However, it is exactly because your budget is small, you have minimal room for error and need to take your single best shot at getting it right, why planning is so essential.Your marketing strategy and plan will be a combination of elements known as the 4Ps of marketing - product, price, place, promotion.
PREPARING THE PLAN
1. Outline marketing goals. In designinga road map to success, you must know where you want to go. Marketing goals should be linked to your overall company goals and financial targets. So, if you project to make monthly sales of $100,000 in year one, and be the community's leading meat shop by 2015, your marketing goals would be aligned to this.
2. Define your target market and product. You noted you plan to serve five communities, but who will be your main shoppers? Most likely women, but in what age group? What income bracket? What educational level? In terms of the shop, what is the unique selling proposition and what needs are you satisfying? The answers will determine your pricing, positioning and promotions.
3. Determine brand positioning and pricing. Brand positioning describes how you want customers to think of your brand.You want people to know they don't have to go into town for good prices - so you're competing on convenience and price. You must, therefore, know your competition's prices and find the lowest cost suppliers - always. I expect you did some basic research to understand market and its needs. If not, do it now.
4. Promotions and budgeting. This involves documenting each action, with implementation timelines and associated costs. Be audacious and start with a bang! Bold signage that's visible from the road is a must. You clearly need a convenient location easily accessible to taxis and buses, because no one wants to travel long distances with raw meat. Another advantage of such a location is visibility and traffic.
Approach a food company like Lasco or GraceKennedy to sponsor your sign and add their logo to save money. Have a launch with music and light refreshment. Giveaways or specials always get people's attention, so try partnering with a company that makes meat seasoning for free products to give away at the launch in return for promotion.
Mobile phone usage is three times more widespread in your area than the Internet, so text- message broadcasts would be good. SMS Communications Limited offers this service by parish. Because of the limited geographic area you are targeting, flyers and town criers are more efficient than mass media. Distribute flyers in the busiest transport areas and even near your competition's location on the main shopping days.
By far, your best strategy will be customer retention. Note it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Some fundamental rules of marketing I would like to highlight are commitment, consistency and patience.
Be confident and commit to your plan. Also, be very consistent in your promotions. Some entrepreneurs promote their business at the start and then stop. That's a recipe for disaster. Never stop advertising and promoting your shop, and try to be innovative by adding new products, etc.
View marketing as an investment that will pay off over time, rather than a cost. Have patience. It takes time to build your brand and influence buying behaviour. It won't happen overnight.
Yaneek Page is a trainer in entrepreneurship and workforce innovation.Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @yaneekpagewww.theinnovators-bootcamp.com