Potential clients may assume that entrepreneurs who are new to an industry lack experience, which is why people are more inclined to buy from companies with an established reputation, proof of service delivery and expertise in the market.
Social entrepreneur and executive coach Refilwe Khumalo says this creates an entry barrier for start-ups so it’s important to develop a sales strategy to guide the execution of your sales tactics.
“A sales strategy helps you define your prospective clients and your plans to reach that specific market,” says Khumalo. “It will also guide you to target the right clients with the right message on the right platforms with the right tone.”
Identify your ideal client: It’s impossible to optimally market your product or service until you know exactly what type of customer you’re seeking. Use market research to develop a clear image of your ideal customer then analyse what they like and dislike, where they live and hangout (both online and offline) and determine where and how you are most likely to reach them.
Get out there: Once you have determined which are the best marketing platforms to reach your target market, you need to self-promote your business. Get into the habit of attending trade shows or conferences, seek opportunities to speak at industry workshops and create content for suitable industry publications or your own business blog. Join social media forums of like-minded people and contribute to industry topics. It’s crucial to be outgoing and active, both online and offline, to get your name, product or service out there.
Create a buzz: The best way to market your company through word-of-mouth is to get people talking. Have a competition and give away a suitable prize. By doing it on social media, you can encourage contestants to share your competition link and/or their positive experiences with your company online to stand a chance to win. Creating unique and compelling content on YouTube or Instagram also improves your chance of going viral and creating a stir.
Utilise direct response marketing: Ensure that you have a simple yet powerful landing page on your website and social media platforms that clearly explains your value proposition. Include a call-to-action, which encourages people to opt into your mailing list or request more information. This will allow you to build a database of qualified leads, communicate with potential clients and test if your value proposition resonates with customer needs.
Build partnerships: As a new entrepreneur it’s a good idea to partner with businesses that offer complementary services, where you could share resources, potential leads or clients. You could also acquire your clients’ permission to use their service testimonials or successful case studies as a branding-by-association tool. You can do this on your website or sales pitch presentations as it helps to build trust for potential first-time buyers.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): To create an online search strategy, start by studying the most commonly used keywords in your market to create a list of keywords. Use these keywords as tags on any articles, pictures and videos you post online. This will allow potential clients to find your company through related searches on Google, Gumtree, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.