When you come with an amazing idea for that new product or new service, or a new way for your rural business to diversify, it’s a great feeling. It’s exciting. It’s energising. And you just want to get going right away.
But where do you start? How do you get your idea to market in the most efficient way possible?
Move too fast, without a plan, and you could end up going in the wrong direction and wasting money. Move too slowly, and someone else might do it first.
Although every business is different, there is a general route you should think about following, to turn your idea into a reality. Here are some top tip to get you started.
- Do your research
Before you do anything else, you need to spend time on research. You might think you have a great idea, but does everybody else?
You don’t want to be investing time and money into an idea that just won’t work.
See also: How to carry out market research
So the first step is to talk to people about your thoughts for a new product, new service or new business. Speak to your friends and family to see what they think. Ask your current customers if this is something they’d be interested in. And look around online to see if people would want what you’re offering.
Forums are a great place to start. Find a topic or interest that relates to your idea and see what kinds of questions people are asking and what issues are being discussed. This will help you understand if your idea is a good fit.
Don’t forget the competitor research either. You need to know if there are other businesses already doing what you’d like to offer. You don’t necessarily need to be put off if there are. You just need to make sure you can take what they’re doing and make it better.
- Test the market
Once you’ve done your research, you need to dip your feet into the water before you go head first in with your new idea.
There’s no use spending a tonne of money on developing a new product or service if you find that you won’t make any profit from it.
If your idea involves a physical product, try and make a prototype first. You want to work out any costs required to get your product ready to sell. Then you can determine a price to sell it at and see if it turns a profit.
See also: Identifying your target customer
If your idea is for a new business or a new service, try and test a ‘lite’ or ‘beta’ version. Offer it to your existing customers for free in return for honest feedback.
Ideally, you want to try and determine what your ‘minimum viable product’ would be. What’s the bare minimum you’d need to do in order for this business idea to be successful?
- Get a brand
After research and testing, you should know if there’s a gap in the market for your idea, or if you can generate the demand for something completely new.
If everything looks positive, it’s time to focus on your brand.
A strong brand will help potential customers identify with your new product/service. It will get your idea noticed and make it recognisable. It will help to protect your idea, as you brand it up as something you own, something that cannot be copied.
And it will help you advertise your idea.
It’s well worth spending the time and money to create a solid, relevant identity at this stage of your business development, as it will form the foundations for what’s to come.
- A good name
- A logo that will work across all your marketing materials
- Your brand story
- The tone of voice you want to use to talk to customers
- The colours and style that represent what you are offering
- Find your USPs
As you’re working on your brand and developing your idea further, you’ll need to start thinking about your USPs. Your unique selling points.
What makes your business different? Why should potential customers buy from you? What can you offer to them?
See also: Does my business need a USP?
Put yourself in your customer's shoes, and think ‘What’s it in for me?’ What benefits do your customers get, and what problems does your product/service solve for them?
These USPs will help with your branding and be vital for your advertising.
- Build a website
Once you’ve got your branding exactly how you’d like and you know precisely what your key selling points should be, you can put the two together to build a website.
See also: The basics of building a website
There’s no point pretending that you don’t need a website. Even in the rural community, the importance of digital and being online is undeniable. Potential customers will EXPECT you to have a presence online, with a website and social media channels.
But that doesn’t mean you need an all-singing, all-dancing website. It doesn’t need to cost you a fortune.
You can get some really great, simple and effective websites for very little investment. They do just what they need to with a few pages of information and imagery.
- Put the word out
With your website live, you can start spreading the word about your new business, product or service. Now your potential customers have somewhere to go to find out more about you, you can shout about your product/service as much as you like.
There are many different ways to advertise your business, and it all depends on what you do, what you offer, and where the best places to reach your potential customers are.
- Branded banners and signs outside your business
- A press release in local newspapers
- Flyers to hand out or distribute
- Adverts in local publications
- Paid advertising on search engines like Google
- Paid social media advertising
- Emailing all your existing customers
- Attending events in public, like a trade show, exhibition, or local market
- Writing content to share useful information about your new business!
- Refine and scale
Finally, you can look to refining and scaling your marketing. There’s no point looking at this area until you have laid all the groundwork first, with your research, your testing, your branding, and your advertising.
It’s much better to just get your idea out there, in a structured way, to just see how it goes down in the real world.
You could spend ages and ages trying to perfect something, but you’ll never know for certain until you just try. So think 80/20. Put your idea to your potential customers when it’s 80% perfect, then you can refine the other 20% as you go along.
And when you measure and test your advertising and marketing, you’ll be able to refine what works and drop what doesn’t.
When you’ve done that – when you can show you’re spending money wisely to make money for your business – then you can scale up.
Of course, this is only a simple overview to help you get started, and there will be more to think about depending on your business, your product and the area you’re operating in.
But follow these general steps with a new business idea and you’ll be on your way to success.
Hillsgreen are our marketing strategy and planning partners, click here to read more from them.