MeetOurMentor: Gillian McLeod
23rd October 2018
Gillian has an extensive career as a Business Practitioner, Economic Analyst/Researcher and Retail Sales Manager. She has accumulated a vast amount of experience in all areas of business start-ups and SMEs including: financial, marketing, patenting, business planning and business development. We caught up with her for advice on business development.
What marketing efforts are most important for start-ups to focus on?
There are several different strategies to use for marketing a start-up and in the early days many companies will want to keep costs low. There is a never a guaranteed method of success for marketing a start-up, but here is a general overview of what you should consider:
- Build your networks using friends, family, local business contacts. Use these individuals to amplify your message through their own contacts whether in person or through social media;
- Grow your email list within your niche by setting up newsletter and competition sign ups on your webpage or social media;
- Blog regularly with content relating to your niche and that is targeted specifically to your specific audience;
- Ensure regular engagement through your email list;
- Focus on 1-2 social media networks to ensure maximum concentrated exposure to your chosen audience;
- Win business locally and gain testimonials to encourage more consumers to use your product/service.
If you do not know where to start or have no experience then leverage any contacts who can assist you in this area or if your start-up has the funding, then hire an expert in the marketing sector. No one formula guarantees success, but careful and informed planning can prove to be successful if applied effectively.
What is the most common mistake start-ups make?
There are many common mistakes start-ups make including in areas such as finance, business planning and marketing. However, an area of concern in my experience with start-ups is a commendable, but rarely viable attitude of entrepreneurs to be unable to delegate responsibility to others as the business develops. Many individuals assume they should be exceptional in all areas of business, but this is rarely possible. This refusal to accept one’s strengths and weaknesses to enable delegating of these weaknesses to individuals more experienced than themselves results in the downfall of many companies and also a huge amount of self-inflicted stress on the individual. Your health as an individual and acceptance of your capabilities is essential in becoming a successful entrepreneur. If your health fails or you fail to recognise when you require assistance; your business will fail.
What are your tips for start-ups when approaching a sales strategy?
There are many factors to consider for a start-up company sales strategy and ensuring you have carried out your market research to ensure your product/service is relevant to your target audience; essentially you should consider:
- Highlight and focus on what makes your product different, e.g. cost, quality or a combination of the two
- Always listen to your customer. Not all ideas will be suitable, but if you listen there are some key developments you could implement that may provide a greater advantage over other competitors.
- Creative marketing is essential to stand out from your competitors
- Ensure you can measure the success of your marketing in relation to sales secured.The sooner you establish which marketing methods are effective, the quicker you can focus your campaign and drop the ineffective modes of advertising for your product/service.This will save your company a vast amount of time and money in the future
- Use PR including radio, television, newspaper and magazine interviews. Promote your company wherever possible and use the names of these outlets on your website to demonstrate the popularity of your product/service.This can be a free form of advertising and extremely effective in reaching a larger audience quickly.