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As part of this, market research is key, to help you understand your target audience. The more you do, the easier it will be in the future to make decisions about your marketing strategy, pricing, budget and sales target.

Market research

There are several methods for conducting market research and you may need more than one, if not all of these. Take a look at our resources and get started.

Working through these documents will help you to understand:

  • Whether there is a market for your product or service and how much demand there is
  • Who your target customers are and what your product is worth to them
  • How you will reach your target customers
  • Who your competitors will be and how they operate

Brand identity

Once you’ve done your market research, you can use your findings to help develop your brand.

Think about the impression you want to give your customers and how you can deliver that. For example, if young people are your target audience and you want to be known for being cool and creative, make sure everything from the way you dress to the language of your marketing materials shows that.

Marks & Spencer is a particularly good example of a company that has successfully developed a brand that everyone recognises.

The language on all of their marketing materials and the imagery they use is always the same and focuses on their core values – family, tradition, quality, British suppliers and good customer service. As a result, they’ve made a name for themselves as a luxury brand that’s worth spending a little more on.

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Get online

Once you’ve identified your customer base and worked out your brand identity, you can start to develop your marketing materials.

Having your own website is a really powerful marketing tool. Making sure it is professional and matches your brand is really important, but something that is often overlooked is the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

A website with good SEO ensures it is picked up by global search engines like Google which constantly ‘crawl’ the internet looking for websites. As they travel the web, they build up a picture of the website and index the text they find. This data is then put into a large database which can be searched by users. The higher your website ranks, the more customers are likely to find you.

Have a read through the tips below to help you get more visitors to your website, which in turn should help you generate more business.

  • Be wary of third parties offering SEO services as they are known to use illegitimate methods to improve your visibility
  • Update your website as often as you can to encourage people to revisit your site. Why not consider starting a blog?
  • If you have the resource, include videos and podcasts to make your web content more interesting and encourage return visits
  • Consider creating a page about your business on sites such as Wikipedia
  • Think about your page titles, headers and tags carefully as these will appear in the URL. Include key words in these to improve your SEO ranking.
  • Use a web designer whose own website is highly ranked by Google. This will show whether or not they have a good awareness of SEO.
  • Plan the content very carefully. Avoid reliance on Flash or other plug-ins which are generally invisible to search engines. Your keywords should appear throughout the copy on each page with no spelling or grammatical mistakes.
  • Consider creating a responsive website. This means it doesn’t matter if a potential customer views it on a desktop computer, tablet or mobile, it will re-format to the right size without spoiling the overall look and feel. Making it as easy as possible for users to navigate boosts your chances of a sale.
  • Ask yourself what you like or dislike when visiting websites. The best way to approach projects like this is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
  • Use links from online directories to increase your site traffic. Good ones to consider are: