Thursday, July 26, 2007

Marketing Your Business

In June, I attended a workshop on marketing run by Keith MacGregor. Mr. MacGregor, who has a public relations firm in Cardiff, Wales, said that finance and marketing are the two most important aspects of a business, but they are also the two that people avoid or don’t really understand.

Marketing is communication. You want to communicate to potential customers what is different and valuable about your company/services; the goal of marketing is to get known and to get sales. This is a continuous process, one that you will work on as long as you offer services/products, and not something you do just once, as in a series of advertisements.

There are many different ways of marketing, though most people assume that the only way to market is buy ads in newspapers, trade publications, yellow pages, and so on. Mr. MacGregor mentioned the following kinds of marketing: advertising, public relations, direct mail, direct e-mail, having a website, leaflets/brochures, leaflet drops, launches, open days, other events, networking, radio, television, telesales, and newsletters. For translators, I’d also add that membership in associations is also a form of marketing.

With all these choices, though, how do you how best to market your own services/products? Before you get to the point of choosing how to market, Mr. MacGregor suggested that you first make a list of the six specific things that make your business different from that of your competitors. Maybe you’re cheaper, or you offer better service since you work longer hours and can answer e-mails even late in the evening, or you have lived in five countries and can speak seven languages and therefore have more knowledge and experience, etc. These reasons will form part of your message. After you have carefully thought about this, figure out who your customers are and how you can find them. The next step is to review the options for marketing and then consider what the best way/s to reach your customers would be and what you can afford.

Then you can create a detailed marketing plan. Decide what marketing activities you will do and how much they will cost, what your objectives are with this marketing (for example, to find five more customers, or to let people know about a new service you are now offering), identify your target markets, and begin the marketing, which should have consistent messages and consistent designs. Mr. MacGregor warned that that is not the end of the procedure, however. You must regularly review how the marketing is working, so you can adjust your marketing plan if necessary, and you should also follow up with potential new customers. If you sent out letters by direct mail, for example, call the people you wrote, remind them of who you are, and try to interest them in your business. You might also want to ask new customers how they heard of you, so you can track which strategies are working best for your business.

As Mr. MacGregor said, “It is one thing to have a good business. It’s another thing to convey it in a marketable way.” As translators, it’s easy to just assume that people know they need us and know how to find us. Actually, though, we need to think about why customers should choose us over other translators and how we can reach those customers.

The next post will be about the step after marketing – sales.

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