How to Start Marketing from Scratch

In this article, I’m going to help you as an up-and-coming business owner build a marketing road map that’s easy to understand. This mini-plan will give you the framework to build upon to get you started in thinking about how to find your ideal clients, understand them and serve them.

In this article, we’ll make the assumption you’re just starting off and you don’t have a lot of initial capital to begin the process.

Before we dive deep, we need to understand where marketing sits in the development of your business. I’ve set it up in this pyramid so you can visualise the order in which we should think about our marketing.

At the base of the pyramid is strategy. It’s the foundation of everything we do. Then, the next layer is our sales projections.

Right there, smack dab in the middle, we find our marketing and sales.

This is the point where we’re going to start our conversation.

Marketing is the place where we start to think about how to reach the goals we set during the strategy and sales projection stages.

How to build your business

Let’s make the assumption that you’re starting your business completely from scratch – no customer base, no money, but a solid idea.

One of the best ways to start building your customer base is really understand your ideal customer. This is the person who really needs what you have to offer and they connect with the way you offer it. One process we can use to identify these people is through the Marketing Circles.

Identify the right people

We’re going to start from your closest, innermost circle and work our way out. I want to encourage you to do this in a way that’s doesn’t annoy your friends and family but acts in service to them. If they can benefit from the products or services your business has to offer, then we’re going to share this important information and opportunity with them.

At all cost, we want to make sure there aren’t moans and groans when you come around the corner because people are scared you will start selling something to them.

If you identify the right people, you can avoid this and instead be seen as someone of service to your community.

Let’s start by looking at your inner circle.

The Marketing Circle – Your Inner Circle

You inner circle are the people who know you best, with whom you have the highest level of trust. They don’t have to be your best friends, but they’re probably your Facebook friends or your Instagram followers. Check out the process below to understand how you should reach out to them and communicate the value your business has to offer.

1. Start by telling people about your business, but don’t tell everyone. That’s right, don’t share it with the world. Just think about the people you know who might be interested in it. Now, I want you to press the pause button.

Who did you think of who might be interested in what you have to offer? Why did their name pop into your mind? I want you to drill down and try to understand what need they have that might make them interested in your product or service? Try to understand why your mind associated them with your business.

2. Use this thought process of “who and why” to start thinking about your target audience. As you think of friends, family members and others in your inner circle who might be interested, question yourself about why you’ve chosen them. Looking for patterns here will help you start to form a picture of your ideal client.

3. From this exercise, ask yourself, what need are you serving? As you think about serving the people you’ve initially identified, ask yourself, how am I serving these people? What need am I meeting? Having a real focus on identifying and meeting your clients needs will serve you in the long run.

4. What things does your target audience have in common? Now, ask yourself, what do the people I’ve identified have in common? What links them together? What do I know about them? If I had to categorised them, how would I do it? Going through this process will help you start to get a clearer picture about your ideal customer.

Here are some of the pros and cons of building your audience and customer base from your inner circle. Are there any more you might suggest for the lists?

Pros

  • Can start with little monetary investment
  • Can start marketing plan immediately
  • Can start the process of understanding and defining your audience and its needs
  • You have the greatest level of trust with this group, and people are more likely to do business with people they know, like and trust
  • Builds your confidence as a business owner

Cons

  • Limited potential reach
  • Greater time investment to realise full financial potential
  • Lack of diversity of needs
  • Not scalable

The Marketing Circle – Your Middle Circle

The next level of marketing you can do is to your middle circle. These are the people who are a degree or two removed from you. This might include people in your alumni groups, Facebook groups, on the campus of your University or even friends of your friends.

At this level, we’re working to expand our reach and to learn more about our audiences. As we mentioned earlier, the foundation of your marketing is really understanding your ideal customer. So while you’re building your customer base, you should also be working to understand your ideal customer better and better.

There are several ways you can do this.

  1. First, get recommendations of people to connect with from friends and people you’ve worked with in the past. Word of mouth recommendations are some of the strongest and you can make an impact on your marketing efforts by actually asking people for those recommendations.
  2. Join groups that are closely related to or aligned with the products or services you offer. There are many ways to connect
  3. Ask yourself, why would the people in this group be interested. This is how you start sharpening your understanding of your ideal customer.
  4. Gather more data about your ideal customers. Use this process to grow your customer base and start thinking about your target audience.

Pros

  • Limited potential reach
  • Greater time investment to realise full financial potential
  • Lack of diversity of needs
  • Not scalable

Cons

  • Dependent upon making in-roads in communities
  • Dependent upon the owner of those communities
  • Dependent upon referrals and testimonials
  • Not a scalable

The Marketing Circle – Your Outer Circle

The outer circle of your marketing is the area where the least trust exists and the most convincing needs to take place. The idea is to bring people from your outer circle into your inner circle and help the grow to know and trust you more and more. There are several steps you can take to start building your customer base in your outer circle.

Your outer circle can be used in two different ways:

Scenario 1: When you’ve already made a bit of money and you know who your ideal clients are.

When you’re in this scenario, you can leverage the knowledge you have about your ideal customers to grow your customer base. This is when you can begin to work on building the number of people who are interested in what you have to say by offering them some information that would be beneficial to them.

This is a faster way to take people from your outer circle and bring them into your inner circle.

Scenario 2: While you’re getting to know your ideal client and you have some money to invest in your advertising

  1. How are you reaching people outside of your current circle to advertise your business?
  2. Who are the competitors or people with a similar message who your ideal customers are likely following?
  3. What books does your ideal customer read? What podcasts do they listen?
  4. Use this thought process to start think about your target audience?
  5. What need are you serving? What does your target audience have in common?

Pros

  • Greater reach
  • Potential for greater financial payout
  • Opportunitie for quicker results
  • Scalable

Cons

  • Initial financial investment
  • Must know and understand audience trying to reach
  • You have the least amount of trust with this group and people are the least likely to do business with people who they don’t know, like or trust

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