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Planning Your New Business: Feasibility Analysis Part Three

Aug 17, 2007
The research has been done and your head is aching from building an organizational chart and bare bones financial model of your first year in business. Now what? Now you plan how to market your start-up to your customers, the fifth and final step of a feasibility analysis.

Those demographics you researched earlier are going to become tremendously useful in this step. Further, the costs of marketing should be factored into your financial planning in step four. In this step though, the focus is on how to market.

No piece on marketing is complete without describing the advertising/marketing mediums first. The first and perhaps most important promoter is simple word of mouth. The easiest way to win good press in this aspect is to please your customers. While it can make for a hard-to-ignore testimonial, word of mouth can also be turned against a business.

A single disappointed customer will generally talk to more people about their disappointment rather than any good experience they had. Unfortunately, there's no way to control word-of-mouth marketing save for impersonating (or having someone else impersonate) an ordinary customer and painting a positive picture of your business.

Before the world started to swirl around electronic media like television, radio, and especially the internet, the one standard for communication was the written word. While it is true that much electronic media has replaced some of the value of written media, it is still the most affordable and easiest way for you to get the word out about your business to a massive audience quickly.

Focus your efforts on specific publications that are likely to be picked up by your potential customers. Focus on papers that deal with local affairs or trade specific journals. You want to view every person who picks up that advertisement as a potential customer.

Electronic mediums, such as radio and television, are a tricky affair. Though they can be effective, they're also painfully commonplace, meaning that you'll need something that grabs an audience's attention very effectively if you want to get anything for your advertising dollar. It will be a significant investment on your part to get a radio advertising spot, and television even more so.

An effective commercial will be expensive, so make sure you do it right, no matter what media you choose to use. Professional help in making commercials will go a long way, unless you yourself are a professional. It need not be top-notch professionals, but some basic information will at least distinguish you from every other poorly-made local business commercial.

Direct mail, wherein a business mails printed advertisements to people directly, is another solid advertising medium. It can work wonders for small businesses catering to a local area, but it's also a scattershot approach, in that the advertising is being thrown around all over an area, with no certainty that it will strike a cord with even a single customer.

As with electronic mediums, you'll need to be clever about distinguishing your business' mail with the rest of the junk mail your intended audience gets on a daily basis.

Other than sinking more money into advertising than it earns back, the other major mistake of marketing is allowing your business to become over-exposed, so be careful how much you advertise. Additionally, if you're clever about it, you can even get yourself some free advertising.

Once you've finished planning your marketing and factoring it in to your financial planning, then you should have a pretty clear idea of whether or not your business has a chance of succeeding. If things look rosy for your business, then you're on the right track. If they look grim, remember that your plan can be changed to adapt, and that the right ideas can turn any business into a success.
About the Author
John Edmond worked for many years in insurance and finance and now writes on a number of topics including new small business marketing s and online publishing
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