It’s a very common scenario, shared by start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers. You need to market your business because you know that’s what’s going to bring in new sales and the revenue you need for your organisation to thrive. But – and this is a big but – there’s no marketing department or marketing person to do the work.
Here’s the thing. Just as you have to go out and buy toilet paper and light bulbs because there’s no office manager, you have to understand and accept that marketing will fall on your shoulders for a while.
The good news is that anyone can “do” basic marketing. In fact, just by being out in the marketplace, chances are you’re already “doing” some kind of marketing. And I don’t mean advertising.
Every time someone buys your product or service and is pleased with the result, you’re doing marketing. That’s because when you provide a product or service, you’re essentially adding value to your customer or client. He or she had a need that you have cleverly identified and fulfilled through your offering.
That, my friend, is marketing.
The key to adding value is to really get to know your customers. What they do. What they like and dislike. What keeps them awake at night. What they’re afraid of (very powerful, this one).
The best, coolest business idea won’t work if the person driving it doesn’t understand the target buyer. So, the number one marketing thing you should do, even if you have no marketing person in house, is validate your concept, which is a fancy word for speaking to the kind of people you’d like to sell your product or service to.
Get out there. Test. Tweak. Iterate. Make sure your offering resonates with your audience before taking things further. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building a mobile video game or a nail salon. Take one step at a time. You’ll invest your resources more wisely and you’ll see better results earlier.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re being as productive as you can be and that you know your USPs, but if you have that market validation and give your audience what they want (or they don’t know they want yet, as Steve Job’s used to say), you’ll be ok to begin with.
Just make sure you find the right marketing support further down the line (here’s some advice on how to recruit a marketer), so you can take things further and hire an office manager next.