Discover information, articles, news, and public/private organizations that can help in the area of marketing.
Your product or service should offer a new or unique opportunity in the market. For example, Uber offered an efficient, low-cost ridesharing model for replacing antiquated taxi systems, while Tesla offered a new electric car experience by pairing an efficient lithium battery engine with a software-based, applications-driven operating system.
Whenever you are building a business around a product or service, you’ll want to go through a series of steps to make sure your idea will be feasible and sustainable.
After you develop your idea, examine the markets to see whether there are areas where the product or service will solve a problem, address a customer pain point, or create a new market opportunity. Survey your customers or prospective customers to collect feedback.
Evaluate your ideas
Create a short opportunity evaluation which considers all potential aspects of the new service or product. Do preliminary financial modeling of potential revenue, costs, expenses, and potential profitability. Determine the merits of each service or product idea and limit your list to the best options. Are the ideas patentable? Are there barriers to market entry? Does the new service or product have extraordinary regulatory requirements, as with pharmaceuticals or medical devices?
Collect feedback and market evaluation
Seek feedback from customers, employees, and partners on which idea is most appealing. Interview prospective customers, industry experts, and key company employees to determine the merits of the idea.
Use social media
Social media can be a powerful tool for soliciting feedback, as long as you are comfortable with making your idea public. If you have a strong presence on Facebook or other popular social media sites, post descriptions or images of your concept and ask your visitors for feedback.
Professional colleagues at business sites like LinkedIn can also be a helpful source of input. You may even want to consider using social tools to raise funds for your project; check sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to see if they fit your company objectives.
Analyze the competitive situation
Analyze the service or product idea from a business perspective. Determine how much, if any, competition exists for similar service or products. Estimate the demand for the product, as well as all costs affiliated with the service or product, to help determine the profit margin.
Develop and market a prototype
Develop prototypes of the service or product, then share it with a handful of key customers and partners. Once they have tried it out and offered feedback, your marketing team should use that feedback to craft marketing messages and campaign ideas. Base the marketing messages on the most common positive comments or reactions from customers and partners during the prototype evaluation.
Conduct market testing
If necessary, make adjustments to the service or the prototype, or develop a new version. Develop additional prototypes for market testing. Do a small product release in select areas. See whether the product sells well and evaluate why sales are high or low.
Evaluate the price and the effectiveness of the marketing messages. A small launch helps determine what needs to be done before an official launch.
Prepare for launch
Begin to finalize your service offering or prepare for the first round of the product launch. Evaluate what the service demand will be or how much inventory to produce based on market testing and demand.
Consider the following questions as part of your marketing strategy:
1. Define your service or product. What are you offering? Are there any competitors providing the same product or service?
2. Determine what makes your service or product unique. Does your service or product provide better outcomes, lower price, increased productivity, improved market insights, or other benefits compared to your competitors?
3. What are your competitors’ current sales tactics? How can you differentiate yourself and offer an advantage, and how can you communicate that advantage to potential customers?
4. How do your competitors market their products? Do they attend special industry meetings, use the web and social media, or sponsor special events? What marketing tactics can you use to compete or find new customers?
5. What is your competitors’ pricing strategy? Can you show customers better pricing, more productivity to justify your pricing, or other justifiable price advantages due to reliability, lower shipping costs, or other benefits?
Once you have answered these questions, develop an assertive introduction program using digital media marketing and other more traditional methods to make potential customers aware of your new service or product.
Develop a company website
A digital presence is essential for connecting with customers. A professional website should include information about your service or product, what advantages you offer, and how customers can order your product or service. Including an e-commerce functionality will expand your marketplace and allow customers to easily do business with you.
The website should also be a place where customers can communicate with staffers and ask questions. Include information on company employees to help customers find the right person to contact.
There are several services that let you develop a website on your own, but hiring a local web developer will make your site more user-friendly and give it a professional appearance. The website should also be set up to be compatible with smartphones and mobile applications, utilize Search Engine Optimization, and optimize use based on updated web features.
Register your business with web services
Registering your business with Google Places lets users find it on Google Maps and in Google searches. Yahoo! also has a large database of businesses called Yahoo! Local, Microsoft's Bing has a similar service.
Create a social media presence
Set up business pages on various social media platforms to promote your company and feed traffic to your website. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter are some of the most popular options, but you should keep up to date on social media trends to look for any emerging opportunities. Keep these pages updated regularly to engage with customers.
Start a blog and issue press releases
Increase your digital media visibility by publishing unique information about your products or services. These actions also help to make your website more visible in web searches.
Complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google has instructions on how to optimize your website so when someone searches for your product or service the company will show up at the top or near the top of search results on the first page. There are also services and programs like Yext which will automatically optimize your website.
Create collateral materials like brochures, business cards, other materials
Most businesses still recognize they need hard copy material to promote their business. Hire a local creative advertising agency to help create a logo and develop materials like business cards, brochures, and point of sales materials.