Business Planning Start-Up Guide
You will be taking a “leap of faith” when launch day comes. But a disciplined launch, which incorporates all of your hard work will steady your resolve when your anxiety is at its highest.
But before we build your launch strategy, remember a plan is not a stone edifice and unchangeable. It should adjust as you better understand your customer and market. However, changes should be based on accurate information. Just keep that in mind as you move forward.
In prior steps, we’ve discussed your marketing channel and identified our preferred customer. So, now it’s time to develop a series of actions to advertise and bring in customers to make purchases. For some, the buying process may take 10 or 20 email interactions before you ask for a sale (building value and trust). For others, your customer is ready to buy so you just have to find them and bring them in.
Your Primary Channel
What primary channel(s) will you use to find and convert customers?
For some, Amazon will be your primary sales channel. For others it will be about generating foot traffic to your store.
Within your channel, what brings you traffic? For the Amazon marketer, they move you to page one because of your sales volume and star-ratings. So if you know that, focus on sales and ratings.
For a storefront, you may get traffic by advertising on radio, newspapers or locally on Facebook or Google. If it requires jumping up and down on the street corner with a a big arrow, then do it. Whatever that success channel is, make it your focus of effort. It will be where you’ll spend your advertising dollar. It will be what you eat and sleep.
If you’re not sure of your channel, it’s now time to find out. However, it’s not difficult to ascertain. If you don’t know of an authoritative source it may be time to reach out and talk to others. It may be time to simply watch and learn. Do yourself a favor, if you feel uncomfortable getting this information, then know that is why you need to take action.
With that channel now firmly in mind, develop a strategy within your channel to make things happen. I’ve head this part of the start up process called the “grind.” It will be un-thankful and stressful, but you must do it and continue to do it until you get the outcome you’re seeking. Adjust as needed, but do it.
If its sales on Amazon, use off site marketing and onsite ads and discounts to get sales. If its about star ratings, then contact your customer (if you can get this info). Ask about their order: Was it received timely? Did it meet their needs and wants? Make sure you’re demonstrating concern and make it right if its not. By doing this, you’ll generate a need for reciprocity and appreciation and they’ll want to leave a five-star rating. By the way, ask for it a five-star rating if you think you deserve it.
Keep grinding away!
Start and Adust: Take A Linear Approach
Unless you’re experienced with a launch, I recommend a measured, linear approach. One where you start small and then tweak it as you progress along the line. If you have a totally flawed approach, you can pause and reevaluate it before you spend too much money.
A launch will not be the same in every industry or market, so take these suggestions as a basis or starting point.
- Understand your customer.
- Understand your channel.
- Deliberately plan (in writing).
- Take action.
- Nothing goes as planned, so adjust.
- Watch, learn, and ask: find out what works and what doesn’t.
- Take small actions every day.
- Don’t quit.
- Keep a reserve for contingencies.
- Don’t bet the farm (don’t be so risky you lose everything).
- Don’t quit.
Consider a public relations (PR) plan, in addition to your advertising and marketing plans. Your PR plan will help brand your business in the eyes of the community and buyers. It can generate buzz and free advertising from local newspapers, radio stations, or television stations. Sometimes, PR is appearing on a iPod or Stitcher Podcast (if you have a national brand or business). Sometimes, you’ll target a trade or industry groups if that’s where your customers are. Get creative.
Write it Down
Before we move on to the next step, let me encourage those fly by the seat of the pants entrepreneurs to write a plan. I doesn’t have to be 15 pages, it can be a sheet from a notebook with bullets and time frames.
Now take that written plan and post a copy where you can see it everyday – throughout the day. Don’t hide it on your mobile phone. Put it where you can see it multiple times a day. If you put it on your mobile device, make your phone reminds you to read it. When you complete a step, cross it off your list and move on. There’s nothing like success to motivate you to move forward.
You want momentum and action. Do it and don’t quit. I forgot, did I tell you to “Do it?” If I didn’t, then… do it and don’t quit!
Before We Move On, I’d like to recommend a book. The author’s focus is primary online businesses, but I think physical businesses can adapt and improvise (some) to apply many of the principles of Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams, by Jeff Walker, Morgan James Publishing (June 24, 2014) for about $12.00.