Develop a Marketing Strategy

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The only way to build a successful business is to create an effective marketing strategy -- your business can't succeed unless you can find prospective customers and entice them to buy, so the first thing you need is a well thought out marketing strategy. Here are some things you need to consider…

Find your niche market

There is so much competition these days, which means that most businesses need to find a niche market for their products. This is especially true if you are running an Internet-based business, because it is difficult for people to find you amid the vast number of websites on the more popular subjects. You need to drill down and find your customers by narrowly targeting your market. Start by finding out who your products and services are aimed at -- who are your customers, are they:

Young or old?

Male or female?

Affluent or on a budget?

Where do they live?

What sort of work do they do?

Do they have families?

What sort of hobbies and interests do they have?

What are their values?

Describe your perfect customer in detail and analyze who will buy your product or service -- the more you know about your customers are more tightly you can target them using keywords.

Solve a problem

Decide what specific problem your product or service is designed to solve as this is central to finding your customers. The biggest reason why people use the Internet is to look for information and solutions to their problems and if you can track down these people and provide the solutions they are looking for, you have the basis of a very successful business.

Position your business in the marketplace

Once you have developed your product and your niche market, you need to find a gap within that niche for your particular products and services. Who are your competitors and what do they have to offer? Where will your business fit in and crucially, is there a variation on a theme that you could exploit to make your business unique? Every business needs a USP.

Track down your prospects

Decide where on the Internet you might find your prospective customers. If they have particular interests, which they will if you are targeting your market correctly, you should be able to find them around special-interest groups, forums, blogs, information websites, specific product websites and on a variety of places within the social media sites. In reality, once you know exactly who your customers are, it should be relatively easy to find them.

Plan your marketing strategy

When you have finished your market research, write down a marketing plan so that you systematically cover every possible angle and probe every corner to find your customers. Start with all the free and cheap methods of marketing such as press releases, blogs, social media, video sites, forums, e-mail marketing and so on, before you think about paid advertising such as pay-per-click, banner advertising or paid advertising on relevant websites.

Build your list of subscribers

Before you start marketing, plan a strategy for building your list of opt-in subscribers as this will be vital to your long-term business success. Make sure you provide an easy way for people to sign up and give their permission for further information or future offers. Without a permission-based list, you will be continually chasing new business -- these days, the emphasis is on building a relationship with your customers and creating rapport and trust in order to make future sales.