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How to generate new business for your startup

Developing a communications campaign is simple to set up, as long as you plan effectively and remember the four Cs

Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty

Generating new business is simple. “Really?” I hear you say. It honestly is. The problem is, most people go about it the wrong way. They start by selling. But you can’t sell something people don’t know they want yet.

In order to use your marketing and communications to drive new business, you have to create desire around your brand. If you look at the most successful brands in the world, they are not selling a product, they are selling a lifestyle. The launch of the new iPhone 7 is a classic example. The new phone is not so drastically different from the last one but everyone believes that it will have a huge effect on their lives. If people want to live the lifestyle your product offers, they will buy your product or service without you directly selling to them.

Developing a communications campaign, which has the end goal of driving new business, is simple to set up as long as you plan effectively. The campaigns that fail are the ones that go about things with a pebbledash approach, flinging press coverage, blog posts and social media updates at anyone who will listen, in the hope of raising awareness and increasing sales. There are the four Cs to remember when planning a campaign, which will give you a great foundation:

Customer – Probably the most important thing to consider. Don’t try to be something to everyone, or you run the risk of not reaching anyone. The stories that an 18-year-old city-dweller is interested in will be hugely different from those a 60-year-old living in the countryside will care about. Pick a very particular market. Find your niche. I find it helps if you write down some key attributes of your target market – age, sex, location, etc. What do they read, where do they socialise and what brands do they consume? Build on your successes with one demographic at a time.

Channel – Once you know who you’re talking to you can decide where you’re talking to them. Again, keep the channels you are communicating through to a minimum so you can make the biggest impact. Is it social media? Is it via journalists or is it your existing customers who will introduce new business?

YouTube, for instance, offers a large potential audience and allows you to interact with your customers. For example, a new restaurant could upload a video of the chef creating a signature dish. Having tried cooking it for themselves, viewers will then want to try the restaurant’s version.

Creating “how-to” videos on Instagram is another great way of interacting with potential consumers – for example, ask your followers to take pictures of their creation and tag the restaurant in the picture for their chance to win a free meal.

Content – In this day and age content is king. People love to have things, which they can share, and knowledge they can pass on. Always ask yourself “will this add value to someone?” Are you educating consumers and giving them knowledge, which they didn’t previously possess? Consumers are extremely savvy these days and so you have to be clever with what you put out into the world. Also make sure your content is relevant to the channel you are targeting. Think about what people are talking about at that particular moment. People don’t want to hear about Halloween in March. Can the content be interactive and get the customers involved?

Change – Once you put content out see what sort of response you are getting. If you aren’t having the desired effect, then change it. The great thing about being part of the digital era is we can get instant results and statistics. Ask questions on social media. Do people like what you’re putting out there? Is there more you can do? Are you doing too much or too little? Listening is so important.

Developing a strong communications strategy is key to developing and capturing the attention of your target audience. The early creation of your communications plan allows your business to focus on the long-term goals and objectives. Quarterly reviews of the strategy are imperative. Plans can change month on month, year on year; remember, no one plan or strategy will serve the entire life of your brand.

Once you start using your communications to generate new business, you will be amazed at how the cost of acquiring a new customer drops. The more effort you put in, the more you will reap the rewards.