Implement Your Marketing Plan
Marketing And Sales Are The Heart Of Small Business
Sales are the heart of business success. Without sales, you don't have a business! How will you generate your sales? Who are your potential customers? How will you reach them?
Many start-up companies create a detailed marketing plan and begin implementing it before they even have a product. They want to test the marketability of their product or service.
Marketing is strategic planning, while generating sales is closer to a tactical plan. Selling is a method of implementing a marketing plan. Promotion, publicity, even product pricing are other components of a marketing plan. I discuss selling and why people buy products in more detail in Thinking Like An Entrepreneur.
Here are some common sales methods:
Direct Marketing involves mailing information to prospective customers. Be careful to target who receives the mailing and to test the mailing before committing yourself to a larger more expensive mailing which will prove unprofitable.
Personal Sales Calls involve taking your product or service around and demonstrating it to people who might be interested. This is an expensive form of selling, and your salespeople must be well trained. Personal sales calls are only justified for expensive products or repeat-buying products, such as the sale of office supplies to other businesses.
Display Advertising is advertising in magazines and newspapers. Advertising is sometimes designed to directly sell products. Sometimes such advertisements are designed to build customer awareness of your company, your product, or your service. For small businesses, buying advertising is a relatively expensive way to sell and market your product.
One type of advertising which tends to work well for businesses serving a local clientele is getting listed in the Yellow Pages. When you need to rent a costume for a costume party, for example, you probably turn to the Yellow Pages and look under "costume." This method probably doesn't work as well for companies selling proprietary products as it does for general services, however. But, it is worth testing for your particular business, if you think it might work.
Unsolicited e-mail to people is considered SPAM and looked at unfavorably by most business owners and consumers alike. Don't do it. It is not an effective way to build sales for a real company, only an effective way to destroy your company's reputation!
Sales though distribution channels is a common way to sell products. If your product is suitable for selling through retail stores, for example, approach the retail stores and try to get them to display and stock your product. This is very much like selling via personal sales calls, except you are not selling to the end-user, but rather to an intermediary.
Here are some common promotional methods:
Word-of-mouth builds a company's reputation and generates sales leads. Word-of-mouth is often the primary method some small businesses use to get new clients. Word-of-mouth is not selling, however. To build referrals, via word-of-mouth, offer a quality product or service.
Asking for sales leads from a presently satisfied customer is also a possibility. Ask the customer if there is anyone he or she knows who might benefit from your product or service.
Press releases let the news media know what your company is doing. The hope is that some newspapers or other media will find the information useful and publish the information.
Sales not only involves selling to customers. Entrepreneurs who wish to raise financing will need to present their ideas to prospective investors. Possibly, you will want to sell the idea of a key person coming to work for your company.