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Marketing your business

When you are ready to start your venture, marketing isn’t something you do for your business, it is what your business does. Landing your first customer is when your business truly starts. Here are the thoughts on Marketing of one of the Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs, Duncan Bannatyne -

"Successful marketing on a shoestring"

One of the best methods is to work with existing customers and get more out of them. ALL businesses should allocate a good deal of their resources to marketing their wares. It is not self-evident to the man or woman in the street that you produce the best pastries, windows or tyres. It needs to be spelt out and shouted about.

The first step is to decide exactly which customers you are targeting. This ensures there is no wastage.Many people then make the mistake of spending a small fortune — foolishly adopting all the ‘must have’ marketing techniques only to find these are too costly and can put the business under before it has got off the ground.

So be practical. Forget what the marketing manuals tell you about branded coffee cups, paperweights, pens, brochures, flyers, posters, radio, television and newspaper campaigns. Grow your business organically and to your own taste. Throughout that process, do only what will automatically lead to more sales. Keep an eye on what things grow. Then decide whether you need to increase your marketing budget.

To get things flowing, start with the basics. I’ve found the best method of marketing is to work your existing customers. With my health clubs, the most effective marketing has always been to reward members for recruiting their friends, family and work colleagues. Whether that is incentivising the existing members with free personal training, tanning sessions or products, it’s a sure-fire way to increase health-club memberships.

In terms of advertising, think locally. A wrap-around in a free local newspaper offers the best value for pounds spent. Small ads in big papers are silly. A tenth of a page on page 57 of a national newspaper is lost on the readers and is costly.

Making your facilities prominent to passers-by is a perfect form of advertising and, best of all, it is free. Your giant self-branded banner outside your record store or jewellery shop is always incredible value for money. It’s free advertising every day as people walk by.
Exploit the uniqueness of your product — whatever it is that sets you out from the crowd. In our health clubs we have self-contained shower units offering women complete privacy to wash and get changed. This is unique to us. It generates positive comment and in turn boosts business.

The best form of marketing is, ironically, not in all the above-the-line or below-the-line spending but in the quality of the product itself. And appearances can be revealing. An example is a pub close to where I live. It has a play area for children and a hotel upstairs with 10 bedrooms but it never seems to be full. And the entire marketing strategy seems to be to continually advertise cheaper and cheaper meals. ‘Two meals for the price of one.’ ‘One meal for the price of none.’ I don’t know where they get their ingredients.
If they worked harder to improve the food and the environment, I guarantee they could double the prices and fill the pub every day. It’s not about ‘cheaper, cheaper, cheaper’ but ‘quality, quality, quality’.

I have discovered, in all my businesses, that it is attention to detail that creates quality. It is quality that generates talk, and talk that generates more and more customers. Keep it simple and practical. Follow your head to success."

(first published by “The Sunday Times” August 20 2006)

At London Innovation Centre, we can help you to develop a practical approach to marketing that is appropriate to your business & your customers.