Building a Business

Starting Your Business Guide: Step 4 - Market Your Business

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
November 6, 2023

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Step 4 - Marketing Essentials

We’re continuing to ramp up to the launch of our Seven Day Business Starter course.

In this article we’re bringing you step four of the process where we learn the essentials of marketing.

If you’re new to this series, be sure to check out the other sections:

And you can find out more about the Seven Day Business Starter course, including a pre-launch discount code available to readers of this blog.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the essential steps you can take to get your marketing started on the right track.

Let’s get started!

Understand the Phases of Marketing

Marketing your business can be boiled down into three separate phases

  • Phase 1 - Prospects
  • Phase 2 - Leads
  • Phase 3 - Customers

Each phase will have different goals and strategies to accomplish the goals. However the overarching goal is to get more customers and increase the amount that each customer buys from you.

And that’s what we’re going to accomplish with our marketing essentials.

Phase 1: Prospects (Before they know about your stuff)

The first phase is the “before” phase.

This is where you reach out to potential customers who may not even be aware of your product or service yet. Your goal is to capture their attention and make them aware of what you offer.

Phase 2: Leads (They've shown interest in your stuff)

The second phase is the “during” phase.

In this phase, individuals have shown some interest in your business, possibly by signing up for newsletters, downloading resources, or engaging with your content. 

Your goal is to nurture these leads to turn them into paying customers.

Phase 3: Customers (They've bought from you)

The last phase is the “after” phase.

Once someone becomes a customer, your focus shifts to delivering an exceptional experience, increasing their lifetime value, and encouraging them to refer others to your business.

That’s it! These three phases form the foundation of a successful marketing strategy.  In short, we want to attract prospects, convert leads and retain customers.

Phase 1 - Making People Aware of Your Stuff

So you have a product or service.  The first step is to get people to actually know that it exists!

That’s what we’re doing in phase one, and to do that we’ll be answering three questions:

  1. Who is your target market?
  2. How are you building a compelling offer for this market?
  3. What media will you use to reach them?

Know Your Target Market

Our first task is to identify our target market.

To find your target market, we want to consider four things:

  1. The type of market 
  2. They have a problem to solve
  3. They have the funds to purchase our offer, and
  4. They’re easy to target

1. Market Type

We want the market that we’re targeting to ideally be a growing market; think selling medical masks during a pandemic for example. 

Or if not a growing market, we at least want to avoid a declining market like selling print newspapers for example. 

Normal or steady markets like footwear or tax services are fine too as long as they’re not shrinking. 

Is the market that you’re selling to a growing market, a dying market or somewhere in-between? 

2. They Have a Problem We Can Solve

We want our target market to have a problem that we can solve for them. The bigger the problem, the more value they may place on finding a solution. 

Does your target market have a big problem you can solve for them?

3. They Have Purchasing Power

We want our target market to be able to afford to buy our product or service to solve their problem. 

If you’re selling services to help new college grads improve their job prospecting skills, you may find that unemployed people with student debt can’t afford your offer. In this case, you could consider marketing those same services to working professionals who are interested in improving their job prospects.

Does your target market have the funds to purchase your offer?

4. They’re Easy to Target

We also want to be able to easily reach the market with our message. For example, if we’re selling custom fit golf clubs, it’s pretty easy to tell where golfers congregate and what types of content they consume.

Can you easily identify where our target market congregates or what content they consume?

Make Your Offer Compelling

Next, we need to make sure that what we’re selling (AKA our offer) is truly valuable to our target market.  

Again we have four things to consider for creating a compelling offer:

  1. Our offer truly solves the problem
  2. We can show that to be true
  3. We can decrease time delay, and
  4. Decrease effort and sacrifice

1. Your Offer Truly Solves Their Problem

First, we need to be sure that our offer solves their problem; this is the core of our product or service. The bigger the problem, the more value our customers will place on our solution.

Does your product or service truly solve the problem of your target customer?

2. Show Certainty

Then we want to give our prospective customers confidence that our product or service will solve their problem. 

For example, this could be done with testimonials, customer reviews or a money-back guarantee.

How can you increase the certainty that your offer will solve your customers’ problem?

3. Decrease Time Delay

Next we want to decrease the amount of time between our customer’s purchase and when their problem is solved.  

We all want stuff done now, rather than later.  Think about how much more compelling Amazon’s next-day shipping is when compared to other retailers that take five times longer or are inconsistent. 

How can you decrease the time it takes for your offer to solve your customers’ problem?

4. Decrease Effort and Sacrifice

Lastly we want to minimize the amount of effort and sacrifice that for our customers.

Make it as easy as possible for them.

For example, you could reduce the number of steps needed to purchase or set up your product. Think of the “buy it now button” on Amazon; it doesn’t get much easier than that.

You can even take this one step further by creating an offer that requires little to no effort from your customers. I don’t love this example, but here it is to better illustrate the concept, selling diet supplements instead of selling difficult exercise and diet programs would reduce effort and sacrifice.

How can you decrease the effort required for your customers to purchase your offer and get results?

Reach Out to Your Target Market

So we’ve got our target market in mind and an amazingly compelling offer.  However, they have no idea we exist! 

We have two tasks here:

  1. Choose a type of media
  2. Choose a content type

1. Choose a Type of Media

We need to figure out how we’ll reach our target market and get the word out. And that’s where the different types of media come in.  We want to choose the media that best suits our audience.

For example, digital media vs traditional media.  Are your prospects online or are they more traditional? 

Knowing this helps you choose between online platforms and more conventional methods like print or radio ads or even flyers.

2. Choose a Type of Content

We also want to consider the different content types.  Are your prospects more likely to engage with video content, emails, blog posts, or podcasts? 

By answering these questions, you set yourself up to make an impactful first impression. 

Don’t worry if this feels daunting right now. When starting out, it’s helpful to focus on one single medium for our message. You can always expand to other platforms later once you’ve honed your message and are ready to branch out.

3. Create Content and Reach Out

Create compelling content that hooks your audience with an interesting headline or subject.  

Retain their attention by providing value. Consider what types of information or entertainment your target audience would like to see and use that to guide your content.

And reward your audience with content that actually matches the headline or subject that hooked them in the first place.  

Phase 2 - Converting Leads Into Customers

In phase 2, we're focusing on those who have shown a glimmer of interest in what we offer. We call them "leads."

These are the people who've maybe signed up for your newsletter, engaged with your social media posts, or downloaded a free resource from your website.

Our primary aim here is to nurture these leads. We want to deepen our relationship with them so that they go from just being interested to actually making a purchase.

We’ll be answering three questions here:

  1. How will we capture leads?
  2. How will we nurture those leads?, and
  3. How will we convert those leads into paying customers?

Capture Leads

First up, we need to determine how we will go about capturing leads. By this we mean, how do we get people to put their hands up and say “I’m interested in that?”

Capturing leads is all about offering something valuable in exchange for their contact info, AKA offering a “lead magnet.”  

Put simply, we:

  • Offer value - Make a valuable lead magnet like an eBook or a checklist. Consider “valuable” to mean something that people would likely pay for as a stand alone product or service. 
  • Make it easy - The process to sign up and receive the lead magnet should be as straightforward as possible. The fewer hoops to jump through, the better.
  • Ensure there is alignment with your offer - The lead magnet should relate directly to what you’re selling. That way, the leads you capture are actually interested in what you have to offer.

Then we just ask people to input their contact information in exchange for the lead magnet. 

You can also scroll back up to the top of this article for an example of a lead magnet! I recommend grabbing a copy of our checklist while you’re up there :)

Nurture Your Leads

Ok so now you've got their attention, what’s next?

Next, you’ll want to build trust and keep their interest alive, and here’s how: 

  • Start with regular updates - Keep in touch with them through regular emails or other content sharing valuable insights, tips, and offers. The key word there is VALUE. 
  • Engage with your leads - Next up is we want to engage with your leads. Respond to any queries, comments, or feedback. Show them you're a real person who cares.
  • Keep going - And the final key is that we don't stop. Continue to follow up until they buy or unsubscribe.

Convert Leads Into Paying Customers

We’ve captured leads and we’re nurturing them like crazy. So how do we go about converting those leads into paying customers?

The good news is you’re already well on your way.  You’ve got an offer that solves the problem for your target audience who can afford your solution.

You’re regularly following up with valuable content and have committed to never stop never stopping. That’s going to work wonders to convert your leads into paying customers.

For a bit more of a nudge, you can try:

  • Special Offers - Including limited-time discounts can help your leads commit to a purchase.
  • Testimonials and Reviews - Show them others have benefited from your offer. This helps increase the certainty that your offer will achieve your customers’ goal.
  • Guarantees - Offering a guarantee can also help reduce the risk for them which helps convince your leads to make a purchase.
  • Include a clear call to action - Don’t make your leads think. Be clear on what to do next for better results.

Do these things and you WILL get paying customers.

Phase 3 - Your Customers Buy More and Give Referrals

Congratulations on turning your leads into customers!

However, making a sale isn’t the end of the marketing process.  Our customers are also our most valuable leads.  We want them to purchase again, purchase more and also to tell their friends.

We do this by again answering three questions:

  1. How do we deliver a world class experience so our customers buy again?
  2. How do we get our customers to buy more?
  3. How do we get more customer referrals?

Deliver a World Class Experience

So then, how do we deliver a world class experience so our customers buy again?

  • Exceed expectations - Go above and beyond in your product or service delivery. That means delivering earlier than promised or throwing in an extra little something.  
  • Provide support - Next you want to offer swift and stellar support. Answer their questions before they even ask. Be kind, provide helpful FAQs or offer a live chat and quick customer support.
  • Ask for feedback - Ask for feedback from your customers… AND actually use it. Make your customers feel heard and then actually improve your business at the same time.
  • Give thanks - And lastly, say thank you. A simple thank you can go a long way. It can be an email, a note, or even a small gift.

By focusing on these areas, you'll not only make your customers happy but make them want to buy from you again.

Get Customers to Buy More

Your next goal is to get your customers to open up their wallets a bit and purchase more from you.

Here's your game plan:

  • Upsell or cross-sell - You can sell a more valuable offer or something related to your core product or service. For example, if they bought a computer, offer a mouse or a keyboard at a discount. Make it relevant and valuable.
  • Exclusive offers - You can give your existing customers VIP treatment with exclusive offers that are only available to them.  
  • Subscription models - Another option is to consider offering your product or service on a subscription model. I know from my own experience as a consumer, auto-refills of my favorite coffee beans that show up in the mail are fantastic.
  • Limited-time promotions - Scarcity can drive action. You can also try using time-sensitive deals to nudge them to buy more, sooner.

Get Customer Referrals

Last but not least, let's turn our customers into our very own marketing squad to drive more customer referrals.

It’s pretty straightforward.

  • Create a referral program - First off, you’ll want to build a referral program.  You can offer rewards to your customers for referring their friends. Or go one step further and offer a reward to both the current customer and their friend.
  • Ask for referrals - Then you want to ask for referrals. Ask your current customers to refer new customers your way. 
  • Be clear and consistent - Make the benefits of the referral program clear so there is more incentive and communicate regularly. Don’t take it for granted that everyone knows about the referral program.  

There we are!  By hitting these three questions head-on, you're setting yourself up for more customers, purchasing more, and doing so more frequently.

Action Steps

And by understanding the three phases of marketing and taking the appropriate actions at each stage, you can build an unstoppable marketing machine.  

For a nicely summarized version of your marketing action steps, scroll back to the top of the article to grab a copy of our marketing essentials checklist.

Seven Day Business Starter Course

We cover all of this information in more detail in the Seven Day Business Starter Course. We even started a new business just to demonstrate every step with a real world example!

Check out this link for a pre-launch discount code that you can use once the course goes live. And keep an eye out for the next article in this series where we install your “Business Operating System” AKA The BOS!

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Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
Originally published
November 6, 2023
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