Starting a business and excelling in it is no cakewalk, especially in the complex startup ecosystem that exists today. In the previous section, we learnt about ‘Raising Initial Capital for Business’ as the 7th step to start a startup and how it is important for ventures to grow and succeed. So on the same note, it is time for us to learn about the next step to start a business, which is Capture Market or you can say Capture the Target Market.
Once your business has received its initial funding and is ready to enter the market, it is important for an entrepreneur to adopt right marketing and sales tactics to ensure that your business reaches the right audience. Capturing the market in the most effective ways becomes detrimental so that your business reaches its breakeven point considering months and years of hard work that you have put into it. Let us throw some light on some of the key areas that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind, to be able to capture the market and retain its right audience.
Marketing & Branding
Marketing and branding is the first and most important aspect of capturing market. But many a time, entrepreneurs confuse between the terms ‘Marketing’ and ‘Branding’. They also fail to understand at what point in time, their business needs to focus on marketing and when to focus on Branding strategies. It is common to see many companies fall into the same pit that revolves around confusion between the 2 terms. More often, the budget that gets allocated for marketing gets wasted due to the branding needs their company faces and vice versa. So, to understand how to capture the market, first, you need to be clear on what these terms exactly mean so that you can incorporate right tactics into your business at the right time. Let us begin with defining the terms ‘Marketing’ and ‘Branding’ first.
Marketing- Marketing is an essential aspect of all businesses and involves the process through which goods and services move from the point of production to the end consumers. It is the business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Marketing involves a well-balanced and robust coordination between 4 elements, also called the 4P’s of Marketing, Product, Price, Place and Promotional Strategy. In order for the products or services to reach its target audience, there are predominantly 4 marketing channels. These are- Direct Selling, Selling through Intermediaries, Dual Distribution and Reverse Channels.
Branding- Branding is yet another crucial aspect that involves creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns based on a consistent theme. Branding signifies the value of an organisation, product or a service. A brand is a reflection of who you are and what customers can expect from your product or service that makes you stand apart from your contemporaries and creates trust among customers. Understand the Unique Selling Point of your business and use that to your advantage to communicate the same to your customers.
Let us take the case of selling a product, let say, shoes to understand the difference between Marketing and Branding better. In scenario 1, let us say you sell shoes for a price as low as INR 200. Here, you need not spend money on branding as already the worth of shoe is so minimal that would eventually attract a lot of buyers who will be willing to buy a shoe at this price. Hence, you need to focus completely on Marketing.
Now, in scenario 2, you sell shoes for INR 4000 but you do not spend on Branding. Do you think that people will buy those shoes? No! Because the market is filled with big brands like Puma, Nike, Adidas etc. who are selling shoes in the same budget. So, customers would refrain from trusting a new brand that they have never heard of, let alone buying a product at such high price. And so, for this, you need to be able to gain the trust of your customers. And for that, you need a good branding, that is good enough to be at par or even outperform big brands like Nike or Puma. So, it is important for startups or any business to realise where their product is positioned in the market and how they are looking to target the right audience to ensure a sustained business model.
In this tech-savvy world, consumers have become more and more informed and they always look for a product or a service on the internet before buying them. All the information regarding the product, be it the price and their specifications are being provided on the internet which can be easily accessed by the consumers. Additionally, they also look for product reviews to know what other consumers think about that particular product or service before they can make a purchase.
Having a blog page on your website allows you to have as many articles that you want, to increase user visibility. You can also provide a link to your sales website or the corporate website on the blog page that directs the users to your actual products and/or services to drive traffic on to your site. A blog page helps you to interact with your target audience where they are encouraged to post their comments and you can respond to them in your own way. Your target audience gets closer to you and they can provide inputs on any improvement that they want on any particular product, a platform that a usual sales process can fail to provide. This is one of the best way which usually affiliate marketers use to capture their target audience.
Consider for example the site of Apple Inc. In addition to their sales website where they list all their products and provide their specifications, there is also a blog by the name Newsroom that provides a detailed insight into their activities. In that section they write about their stores, their performance, people reaction about their product etc. and they post regularly there. Hence by doing this, they are just increasing their visibility on the internet which is helping them indirectly in capturing market.
Internet has always been a medium of communication and information and discussion forums are an integral part of the web for a very long time. Discussion forums are an excellent way in which users can communicate with each other and how they approach the web. Quite often, discussion forums of companies are inundated with people who are looking to discuss a particular subject and are increasingly becoming a streamlined platform for user interaction.
Discussion forums are a reliable platform to allow discussions to take place in an open environment. They have an advantage over emails as they encourage the participation of right people who can read about the topics and contribute in the sharing of information, without resulting in the unnecessary amount of information from people who lack information. These forums also facilitate Customer Support to buyers who can expect product related assistance from the company within a suitable time frame. Doing this keeps your audience interested in your products or services and can ultimately lead to customer retention.
Forums create an excellent vibe to allow personal interactions with customers flourish that makes them feel that their needs are respected and nurtured. There is another major advantage of discussion forums and that is ‘Community Based Support’. At times, a single representative might not be able to answer all the queries posed by a customer that can have a drastic impact on customer retention. However, by building a community as part of your forum results in the participation of people who are all well-informed about their business and ultimately solve all customer issues eventually.
For instance, consumers research a great deal before buying any web space like Bluehost or GoDaddy. Quite often, they read blogs and reviews to understand better which hosting platform is best for them. In these cases, having a forum that is open to all for discussion helps in addressing to consumers’ query in a much better way and you might also be able to convert the query into sales at some point.
No matter how good your product is, in the absence of a robust sales ability and a strong team of sales personnel, your product or service will not be able to capture the market. A report from Accenture shows that mediocre sales performance costs B2B companies over 3% in potential revenue while it takes just a 5% improvement in sales productivity to recoup those millions in lost revenue.
Needless to say, it is important for a company to focus on building a strong and capable sales team who is able to do the proficient selling of your business and also understand the market needs at the same time. Afterall who will actually convert leads into the sales without salesperson. Not to forget, no company has ever died because of excessive sales so even if you face such a scenario, the only aim of the company needs to be to convert those queries into sales. At this stage, it is not as important for your business to focus on profit margins that it is to consider the percentage of the market that is being captured every day. Strive to attain the break-even point to ensure that your business is not going under losses.
Usually people ignore data analysis step when they talk about market acquisition. But data analysis is a yet another crucial aspect to help your business in capturing the market that many businesses tend to avoid at this stage. It involves examining large amounts of data in order to discover useful insights and unfold hidden patterns in your business. With the rapidly evolving technology these days, analysing data and getting answers immediately has become easy and more efficient. More and more companies are realising the potential of Data Analysis and how it can be used to obtain a significant value for their business. As per Economist Intelligence Unit report, in Asia, 63% of the companies are routinely generating value from data while in US and Europe, the percentage amounts to 58% and 56% respectively.
An efficient Data analysis technique helps companies to harness their data and use it to unfold new avenues that can eventually result in more efficient operations, higher profits and happier customers. 60% of professionals feel that data is generating revenue within their companies. Also, 83% of them have mentioned that doing this has made existing products and services more profitable. With the ability to gauge customer needs and satisfaction through analytics comes the power to meet the needs of the customers by developing new products and rolling out new strategies from the customer viewpoint. Storing large amounts of data also results in significant cost reduction and allow businesses to find new ways of doing business. Data analysis helps your business to comprehend which product is getting more profitable and also highlight the ones that are resulting in losses. By using this data, you can emphasise on profit generating products and ultimately, your business can grow.
If you have any doubt then please ask in the comment section below. Read the Last Step.