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Generating sales in your first 90 days print Print

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A new business needs customers fast. A targeted promotion plan for the first 90 days after launch will help you gain them.

No one knows your new business exists until you start promoting it. Rather than doing this in a haphazard way, you’ll get better results from a targeted promotion plan.

This doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be simple and practical. Best of all, you can draw one up yourself, tailored for your business.

A good promotion plan has five parts. It also sets measurable tactics and targets for the first crucial 90 days of a business’s life as well as the year ahead.

1.     A clear target

Any marketing promotion is more productive when it takes a targeted rather than a scattergun approach. In order to target your promotions, you have to know all about your customers.

Build a profile

Identify the ideal customer(s) you want to sell to in the next 12 months. If you already have some customers, building a customer profile should be straightforward. If you’re likely to change focus after the first 90 days then include two profiles. For example, many businesses will use different tactics after they’ve launched to first target market-influencers who might then spread the word to the wider market.

If you don’t have any customers yet, base your customer profile on your research for your business plan. You may also be able to gain clues also from your competitors’ customers.

If you have trouble building a clear profile of your ideal customer types, this usually shows you need to do more market research.

Be as precise as possible in building customer profiles. For example, if you’re selling adventure sports equipment, your main target market might be people of both genders aged 20 to 40, with an average household income of $50 to $120k. If you sell technical equipment to the health industry, your target market might be the purchasing managers of hospitals and clinics with more than 50 staff.

2.     Specific objectives

Set the objectives for your promotions. Keep these short, specific and achievable, so you can measure results over time. Set short-term 90 day objectives as well as longer-term ones so you can measure your immediate post-launch success. For example, your objectives might be:

  • Gain 1,000 customers in the first 90 days (subscription service).
  • Attract 600 customer visits and achieve a turnover of $7,000 a week (café).
  • Get 2,000 website hits a week with a 5 per cent conversion into sales or enquiries (online business).

3.     Well-aimed tactics

With a clear picture of your customers and your objectives, look for promotional tactics that match your customer profiles. This will be easier if you know what your ideal customer types read, listen to, watch or do online. If you don’t, more market research is in order. Once you know more about customer preferences, you can choose the best ways to attract their attention. These could be:

  • An ad in a trade journal or a direct mail campaign for a business selling to other businesses.
  • An email newsletter complemented by social media marketing for an online business.
  • Flyers in mailboxes and an ad in a community newspaper for a plumbing business.
  • Radio ads and cycling event sponsorship for a café on a popular cycling route.

These are just examples - you need to come up with 10 to 15 separate methods or tactics that you can start over the next year. All tactics should be specific and practical.

4.     A plan and a budget

Once you have selected your tactics, start filling in the promotion plan for the next 12 months. Take into account any seasonal issues that could affect your promotions, such as school terms, national holidays and seasonality.

You should now have a list of tactics, the month in which the tactic will be implemented, and a cost for each. If you have staff, go one step further and assign responsibility for implementing each tactic.

Review the plan

You have a clear plan of action to build your business over the next 90 days and beyond. But before you start implementing it, ask your advisers or a business mentor for a review.

  • Check that the objectives are clear and tactics are well-targeted.
  • Confirm that someone has responsibility for implementing each tactic within set timelines.
  • Take a critical look at the total budget as well as the budget for each tactic. Decide if the amounts are reasonable and check that you can get an acceptable return from the investment.

Launch with a splash

Include a plan for launching the business in the promotion plan and link it to your 90 day objectives. You may be able to generate some free publicity around the launch if you can come up with some creative ideas, but think about the feasibility of these ideas translating into measurable results.

For instance, can you invite some well-known people to the launch, or create an event that is different and newsworthy? And , if so, are these figures important to your target market and will the media they attract be consumed by the target market?

Remember to invite the media to whatever you come up with, because they can be an important tool for kick-starting word of mouth about your business if they’re followed or read by your target market . If you can get some free publicity it could go a long way to building awareness of your new business.

Leave some wiggle room

Leave some flexibility in your budget for special events and opportunities that may crop up during the year such as special sporting or cultural events coming to your area.

5.     Measured results

If you don’t measure the results from your promotions you’ll never know what worked. Give preference to tactics that are easy to measure. For instance, include coupons with ads or flyers, use a code for special offers or count the returns from a direct mail campaign – and make sure they’re easy for customers to use. You can monitor website results using tools such as Google Analytics. You can also simply start asking customers how they found out about your business.

The results from promotion measuring may surprise you, but they will show you the tactics which delivered results. Your next promotion plan can then focus on the winners, tweak the ‘averages’ and eliminate the unproductive tactics.

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