Guide to Starting and Operating a Small Business | 2018 Guide to Starting and Operating a Small Business - Page 52

Market Analysis • Research your industry/environment • How large is your industry? • How many prospective customers are there? • How do economic trends impact customer buying decisions? • What unique abilities do competitors possess? Research your customers • How do you define your ideal customer? (Who will buy most often?) • What is your target market? (Age, gender, income, geographic location?) • Who will buy your product? (Who is the decision maker?) • When will they buy your product? (Seasonally? 24/7?) • Where will they look for your product? Online? Retail store? Catalog? • From whom do they want to purchase your product? (Owner, Sales rep, Distributor, e-commerce site?) Research your competitors • Who are your direct competitors? • Who are your indirect competitors? • Evaluate direct and indirect competitor strengths and weaknesses in key areas (quality, customer service, price/value, location, convenience, speed, reliability) • Evaluate your own company – do a SWOT analysis. Compare yourself to your competitors. Take advantage of your strengths. o Strengths o Weaknesses o Opportunities o Threats Marketing Strategy • Develop strategies that incorporate your goals, build on your strengths, and promote your unique competitive advantages. Build a marketing mix to best serve your target customers. Position your product in the customer’s mind. Why should a customer buy from you and not your competitors? • Product: Describe product from customer’s point of view. What’s in it for them? What are the benefits and features of your product? • Price: Set prices to strategically accomplish business goals, while remaining sensitive to customer motivations. o Cost based: cover your expenses o Going rate: follow the market leader o Image pricing: your product is exclusive o Service pricing: your product is convenient o Slow entry: work toward building customer loyalty o Loss leaders: generate traffic by setting pricing low (by discounts off price you want to achieve). • Place: Determine most effective way to get your product to customer, such as shipping, electronic transfer, personal delivery, retail, etc. • Promotion: Determine promotional tools based on what your target customers hear and see, such as internet, radio, TV, print, billboards, etc. o Publicity: News releases, success stories, organization memberships, community events. o Advertising: Electronic media (i.e., website, email, social media, radio, TV,) and print media (i.e., newspaper, magazine, brochure, direct mail, newsletters, letterhead, business cards). Implementation Schedule & Budget • Create a timeline for when different methods of advertising and publicity will be used. • Prepare cost estimates. What can you afford to do to achieve the results you want? 50