Before looking at new markets, think about how you can get the most out of your existing customers - it's usually more economical and quicker than finding new customers.
Perhaps you could sell more to your existing customers, or look at better ways to retain key customers.
Focus on the market
Take steps to find your most profitable customers:
- Analyse the different needs of different groups of customers.
- Focus on a market niche where you can be the best.
- Aim to put most of your efforts into the 20 per cent of customers who provide 80 per cent of profits.
Don't forget the follow-up
Monitoring, evaluation and review are key to success:
- Approach a third party for feedback about your strategy - they may be able to spot any gaps or weaknesses that you can't see.
- Put your marketing strategy into effect with a marketing plan that sets out the aims, actions, dates, costs, resources and effective selling programmes.
- Measure the effectiveness of what you do and be prepared to change things that aren't working.
Pitfalls to avoid
Watch out for these common mistakes:
- Making assumptions about what customers want.
- Ignoring the competition.
- Trying to compete on price alone.
- Relying on too few customers.
- Trying to grow too quickly.
- Becoming complacent about what you offer and failing to innovate.
Be sure to follow up all of your marketing and promotional strategies with a marketing plan. This sets out clear objectives and lists the actions you will take to achieve them.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- What you need to do about health and safety
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services