We have heard so much about well known fashion brands such as David Lawrence, Marcs, Pumpkin Patch, etc closing their business because of the pressures that they face with online pressures. It’s harder and harder to compete in an ever changing consumer environment. So what did they do wrong? With all their experience in business, how can we ever consider building our own successful businesses?

It is more important than ever to really understand your business needs and how you can safeguard your investment and your business from financial ruin. Of course there will be hurdles and hiccups along the way but how you deal with these issues will help strengthen your business and build on your company’s future prospects.

So let’s start at the basics - building strong foundations. It’s like raising a kid, you need to build strong roots and infrastructure that support your business to protect you from undiagnosed issues. What this mean is having a strong business concept that keeps you focused on your business and its customers. Every business needs to have clear strategies and measurements in place to ensure that you are not throwing your hard earned money away on programs that are not providing you with the results that you need.

So how is it that marketing can assist?

So the mistake that most businesses make is that they think of marketing as an expense instead of an investment. Marketing activities span from advertising, public relations, promotions and sales. These programs are so important as they help to get the word out about your services, goods and company. Without a marketing program, how can your company get discovered by potential customers and hence, how can your business expect any type of success.

So let’s get started!

No matter if you are starting your business now or have been operating for many years, getting to know your client is so crucial to building a very solid and results driven marketing and business plan.

Understand the problem you are solving
Every business is trying to meet a need or solve a problem for their clients. For a customer to part with their hard earned $$, they need to ensure that your business will be best able to solve a problem that they have encountered.

Yes this is the hard part- What solution is your business providing to a client’s problem?

For example, a customer has been looking everywhere for a very comfortable and snug fit pair of jeans to wear to work everyday and is willing to spend what it takes to find the perfect jeans that meets his needs.

Know your customers- this is so important and the crux of all marketing activities. You need to understand all aspects of your customers. You need to ask yourself:
What demographic do they belong to?
Where do they shop?
What do they own?
Where do they live?
What are their needs?
Who are your competitors?

Marketing message
To be able to clearly target your potential customers, you have to build a strong message that resonates with their needs. This message needs to speak directly to your customers so that they feel that you understand their needs and how to solve their problem more than any other competitor or company in the market. This message should be embedded in your vision, your mission statement and in everything that you do. It should define you and your business values.

It will be the basis of your company and its reputation. This will help build your brand name, its reputation and its future prospects.

Disseminating your message
You now understand your customers, know what needs they have and have defined your marketing message that differentiates you from your competitors. You have now built the crux of your marketing plan and now have to get your message out to potential customers. There is so many different marketing strategies and avenues that will help you to get your message out to your customers but it’s important to understand that there is costs involved in all these strategies. This could be a cost relating to time or monetary cost so it is very important to focus on a few marketing strategies that will help to provide you with the best return on your investment. Because we understand the customer well, we can target marketing strategies that will provide us with the maximum impact to our business.

Measurement of your results
There is so much money that can be spent on marketing strategies. Marketing can take up as much as 30% (sometimes more) of your annual sales so it is very important to understand and keep on top of the results of these marketing strategies. There is so many moving parts with a marketing strategy and defining the success of a program is a very important part of your marketing and business plan. As it can take time for the results of a marketing strategy to become apparent, it is crucial to your business to outline the costs and the period you would like to test the marketing strategy and it period of assessment.

Re-adjust or fine tune marketing strategies
When you are dealing with marketing strategies, they are based on current trends of your potential customers which are always changing. New apps, technologies or lifestyle changes can affect the results of your marketing strategies so there is always a need to consider these as part of your progression. What may have worked for 3 months, may alter or change with a new app or trend which can then mean that your marketing strategy will need to alter to these changes.

Keep an eye on your competitors
Healthy competition is important to a marketplace but as a business owner, monitoring the activities, marketing strategies and pricing of your competitors is part of ensuring that you stay ahead in your business and continue to win customers before your competition does.