“If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.” I grew up listening to that being said in my house. Every time we got ready to on a a family trip or vacation my parents ran down a checklist to make sure that we had everything we needed to have a good trip but also be prepared in case of an emergency. Below is a list of questions and ideas to ask and consider to help insure your startup gets off on the right feet.
- Start with your audience, not your product.
- Before a company can provide a product or service it must first be determined that there is a need. (TIP: If your not making money doing what your doing then its a hobby not a business)
- Understand the needs of your customers.
- Find the most effective ways to reach your audience.
- Segment and define your ideal market(s).
- Let your audience validate your product or service. Customer feedback is crucial when getting started. Get feedback using multiple forums i.e. surveys, social media conversations and Q&A’s.
- Make sure you offer customers what they want and always be prepared for surprises.
How effective is your strategy?
- A good strategy starts with clear goals and objectives.
- Define objectives and measurable goals.
- Develop, review and adjust your strategy.
- Create or revise your marketing plan.
- Measure success and adjust your strategy.
Whats your value proposition?
- What customer problem or challenge to solve?
- How do the challenges impact their business?
- How do you solve the customer problem?
- What value and benefits do you deliver?
- What are your key differentiators?
- Summarize and create your elevator pitch or story.
Does your story sell?
- The Challenge: create interest, curiosity and drama with your story. A movement of sorts.
- The Struggle: Establish a bond between your movement and your audience.
- The resolution: Paint the picture of how your movement will make audiences life easier or simplistic.
- The proof: Now that you’ve painted the picture let users give testimonials. (TIP: Numbers and data can be very good story tellers and sellers)
- The news: Spread the word, let the movement go viral.
Is your storefront/website delivering sales?
- Location and Presentation matter!
- Identify the primary goal of storefront/website. i.e generate traffic, educate,convert, sell, engage, or build community.
- Follow the 30 second rule:
- You have 30 seconds to capture the audience attention. People want to know right away, what is it, if they need it, how it works, where to get it and will they be back?
- Use “call to action” tools and attractive offers to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for and convert to customers.
- Creative windows and landing pages to get new visitors.
- Track, analyze, and improve.
- Business is a living organism. Its constantly changing and must continuously profit to survive.
Whats your social media strategy?
- Social Media for your business is no laughing matter, it needs a strategy and a plan!
- Social media is different, its not something thats done by the business but done by users and customers. The business roll is to facilitate and encourage conversation, then participate and listen.
- Social media is an ideal way to generate new business and leverage other peoples network for your benefit.
- Social media is a useful tool for keeping customers loyal.
- Social Media is the most useful tool for customer support.
- Social media analytics can provide very detailed look at the demographics of your business.
Do you fully leverage SEO and SEM?
- Content, content, content! This is all about making it easy for people to find you.
- Think like a prospective customer (TIP: Find keyword category “niche”, test using Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc)
- Discover and analyze relevant keywords
- Be creative!
- Search in volume by region.
- Check how competitive the keywords are.
- Always do a test search on keywords to see relevance.
- Use META tags effectively (META provides summary of web page)
- META tags show up in search engines and determine where they are displayed in search results.
- (TIP: The tag tittle is important, followed by description tag, focus tags to build brand, optimize tags for SEO and make tags compelling and actionable)
- Good, creative and original content is important.
- Acquire quality inbound links. One way is by making it easy for customers to share content, this will set up a solid database of link backs to build on.
Are marketing and sales aligned?
- When sales and marketing are out of line it can cost lots of time, energy and money.
- Create a seamless customer experience. For most customers the process of how they achieve their end goal is crucial. Streamlining this process and creating an experience along the way gives a leg up in the game of return customers.
- Marketing and sales have to tell the same story, the story must be compelling and worthwhile.
- Processes and systems need to be aligned.
- Organization, people in every department need to be on the same page as sales and marketing team. Everyone is in someway or another a member of the sales team so this is critical.
How do you measure success?
- If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and the business success is determined by the bottom-line/ numbers.
- Define your metrics- what is your success and how will you measure it?
- Review and analyze the metrics in the right context. With the big picture in mind focus on the numbers you need to validate your business strategy.
- (TIP: Be on the lookout for trends)
- Be innovative, you have to constantly be testing new ideas, trying new experiments in order to keep your business growing and relevant.
- Use the reports and metrics as decision making tools and use them to guide the growth of business. Take action avoid complacency.