Some fledgling entrepreneurs can quickly go from start-up to enjoying rapid growth in a relatively short space of time, but there can be a sting in the tail when you experience short-term success.
Growing your customer base is just one part of the formula that goes towards creating a business that is going to stand the test of time. You need to grow your brand in the marketplace and that means concentrating your mind on achieving market share as well as simply adding new customers.
What is brand awareness?
If you are asked to name some of the top restaurants in your area for example, there is a good chance that you could name more than a handful of great restaurants that you have heard of by reputation, even though you may not have visited them yourself yet.
This is where the marriage of mentality and marketing comes into play. You need to be constantly aware of ways in which you can build your brand so that even people who are not yet customers, will think of you when they are next looking for the product or service you are offering.
An example of this would be the online printing supplies company Stinkyink.com, who are building brand awareness by aiming to be one of the cheapest and reliable suppliers of print cartridges.
Work on what your unique selling point or niche is and make sure you continually broadcast this message and deliver on your promises, so that you build a customer base and raise levels of brand awareness at the same time.
Define your target market
If you are a start-up business, you really do need to do your homework before you launch in order to accurately define your target market.
This means creating what you believe will be the typical profile of your customer, identifying what their likely preferences are, what will influence them to buy and how you think they will act and decide to purchase.
It goes without saying that as a start-up you will not have access to the sort of budget and manpower that large companies enjoy, but this gives you an advantage in some areas that you need to exploit of you are going to make the most of your financial resources.
Flexibility is key
A start-up business has the benefit of flexibility over larger businesses who have marketing departments and a dedicated sales force.
This means that you can adjust your marketing strategy at a moment’s notice and react to customer needs much more quickly than a larger competitor, giving you and edge by offering a more personal and responsive service, which will help you to win and retain customers.
Feedback is important
One of the fundamental aspects of building your brand and growing your business is to obtain feedback from customers on their buying experience and consider any suggestions or aspects of the way you do business which does not seem to meet expectations.
Not all feedback is going to be positive and not everything you hear will be either constructive or perhaps helpful at times. But you have to maintain a dialogue with your customers and learn how to use the feedback in the best possible way.
Start-up success can lead to long-term brand loyalty and growth if you adopt a marketing mentality that is more than just about finding customers but keeping them.
John Sollars started Stinkyink.com in 2002, a printer cartridge supplier in the UK. He knows a thing or two about printing and he enjoys sharing his ideas and insights online through blogging.