Without revenue, you haven’t got a business. Dan Martin summarises the discussion in the Microsoft-sponsored UK Business Forums Startup Clinic to provide advice on how to make money for your company.
1.Know your customer and create a plan
If you don’t understand who your ideal customers are, how can you expect them to buy your products or services?
Researching your target audience is vital so spend time tracking them down, finding networks they use and competitors they buy from.
UK Business Forums member, Marketester summarises the key elements of a business and marketing plan as:
Unique value proposition
What makes your product, service and business different from the competition? It is important to remember that value comes in different forms, whether it is time, money, or convenience, it is important to highlight exactly how your product or service adds value.
When calculating your pricing strategy, it is important to understand:
- The total cost of producing your product or service
- How the customer will benefit
- The problem the product or service solves for them
- The pricing strategy of your competitors
Sales and distribution plan
It is essential to make sure your product or service can reach your customer. When deciding on a distribution channel it is important to consider:
- Costs associated with distribution
- Delivery terms
- How the distribution will affect production
- The amount of time the distribution channel adds
- The level of inventory you will need at any given time
Advertising and promotion plan
It is then essential to outline the media channels you will use.
2.Customer service is vital
Repeat customers spent 33% more than new customers so make sure the service you provide is spot on to ensure buying customers keep coming back for more.
“First impressions are what count,” UK Business Forums member Andre1122 commented. “Make sure customer support is available 24 hours around the clock if necessary, answer every email, make a call if needed, give that personal touch to every enquiry.”
3.Use social media
Using social media can bring huge value to almost any business at very little cost.
But key to making a success of it is recognising that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like are part of a long term strategy and places for conversations, not over-selling. Engaging properly through social networks can also help your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your website.
“If you treat social networks as just a means-to-an-end, you will likely get on the wrong side of them,” mikekingpin says.
“If however, you engage with people, and treat each social network you are involved with as a great resource in its own right, then not only will you do well in those social channels, but Google will actually prefer the way you are doing things, and rank you higher!”
As for which platforms are relevant to which activity, mikekingpin advises:
LinkedIn: Professional networking taken to the web. It's useful for professional contacts and joining some industry groups
Pinterest: High traffic, image based, with a demographic of over 90% female users
Facebook: Great for multi-media and building up a community. Check out ‘Cake Pop Princess' as an example success story
Twitter: Real-time messaging, useful for customer support, networking and finding people to strike relationships up with. Also good for ego-bait and getting the attention of others, some of whom you may otherwise struggle to reach
It’s easy to get carried away and waste time on social media platforms though so manage your commitment. “Have a think about the amount of time that you can spend and then work within that time,” says UKBF member maxine.
“Tools such as inboxq are pretty good too for finding people with related questions to your area of expertise and point you in the right direction of joining in conversation. Lists are good too along with hashtags and local conversations in a geographical area.”
4.Measure everything you do
If you don’t the impact of your revenue gathering activities, you could be wasting your time. For online marketing, use internet analytics tools to track your process and services like HootSuite and TweetDeck can help your measure your soc ial media activity.
Also keep an eye on your business and marketing plan. If things change, update it so your company stays on the right track.