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Basic Marketing Activities for Start-Ups

In my role as a business support provider and as a business owner myself, I have researched marketing activities extensively. 

The main thing I learnt is that whilst marketing and selling are related; they are NOT the same thing!

But most importantly I have researched marketing methods that don't cost the earth, or even better methods that are free. So I can tell you what works for my business and my clients' and thus for you too.

Marketing is about finding out who your clients are and what they want and need.

To get a handle on your market and any activities you need to undertake to get to them, ask yourself: 

  • Who are your clients?
  • What problems do they face?
  • What's your solution?
  • How can you reach them?

Perfect Partners?

What does your ideal client look like? What industry are they in? Who do you want to work with? Once you've answered these questions you will be able to concentrate your marketing efforts more effectively rather than having a scatter gun/catch-all approach.

Think about: 

  • Age (what's the average age of your perfect client)
  • Location (are you able to trade nationally/internationally or just locally?)
  • Sex (some people work better with men/women)
  • Personality (will they be the ying to your yang?)
  • Experience (do you want to mentor or will a newbie frustrate you?)
  • Industry (do you have experience of their sector to be able to look at the "bigger picture"

By visualising the perfect client/customer, you can then move onto finding out what troubles them, how you can benefit them and where to find them. (There is a persona worksheet in THE CONTENT CRATE)

Be a Problem Solver

What problems does your perfect client face? Time, money etc?

Once you have identified the problem you can show them how you can provide the solution that benefits them. You can solve their problems, can't you? If not, your business is not going to go anywhere. Sorry, but that's the harsh reality of business. You have to provide a product or service that benefits a customer. 

In Your Face

Now we know who your client is going to be and what problem they have, it's now time to find out where they hang out and how you can get to them to get your message across. 

Marketing is about getting your message to the right people.

So basically, your message, or more importantly YOU, needs to be where your clients are but remember, it isn't ALL about the sales pitch. Offer advice and information too. 

There are a number of ways to do this:


The power of internet is a marvellous thing and as such most businesses these days have a website. However, you need to harness the power of the internet so that your website is a money making magnet not just an electronic brochure for your business. The way to do that is through Search Engine Optimisation aka SEO. Getting a professional to work on this for you is best and should have been discussed with any web designer at the outset, but it can be expensive. You can opt to optimize your website yourself. (There's a SEO Checklist in THE CONTENT CRATE or you can read more about SEO tasks you can manage yourself here.)


A blog (a portmanteau of the term "web log") is a discussion or information published on the World Wide Web and consists of entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first). You can either host the blog on your website (recommended) or set up a separate site via Blogger, Wordpress or similar.

Blogging is great for website SEO, as it means that the content on your website is changing often, which is something Google loves.

As with anything, blogging gets easier the more you do it. Whilst you may start off sounding strained you will soon find your voice/tone and will love it (like I do!)

Make your blogs interactive so viewers can leave comments and share the content with others. You should also make it a habit to comment on other blogs relevant to your industry, giving your opinion, so that you become known as a regular contributor and expert in your area. 

Social Media

Everyone has heard about Facebook and Twitter (if you haven't, where have you been for the last 10 years?) and most business people think they HAVE to be using it. But ask yourself, are your (potential) clients on those platforms? If the answer is yes and there's a real possibility that they'll connect with you on there (ie it's not just an automated feed) then go ahead get on there. But if they're not, why waste your time sending out messages via a medium that none of your potential client's will see?

If you do decide to sign up to Twitter or Facebook, be warned it can be VERY addictive so do keep an eye on your time. Read more about that here.


Whilst social media can put the world at your fingertips, there's nothing like a good old face-to-face meeting so get out of your office and meet your potential customers in person, or at least someone who can put you in front of them. It may not be about who you meet and what they can do but about who they might know.

I recommend that you: 

  • Attend more than one group/event
  • Build friendships not just working relationships.
  • Work on your sales pitch, don't spout the same lines every time.
  • Collect business cards, don't just distribute yours
  • Offer to speak on your industry/subject at a meeting

Email/Direct Marketing

I have purposely left this one until last, as it's the one activity most people think of when you mention marketing. I wanted to show that there was more to marketing than just sending out a big batch of letters in the hope that someone will reply. Here's some ideas how to use mailings to attract and keep customers/clients: 

If you have a newsletter, don’t forget to ask them to sign up! (tweet/facebook post the link)

  • Send a newsletter (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) with tips, exclusive deals (for subscribers) and news
  • Send a thank you letter to customers when they register or place an order
  • Ask for feedback
  • Send birthday and Christmas cards
  • Have a sign up form on your blog
  • Don't just farm a load of (email) addresses of the internet and spam them, ask them to sign up for news.
  • Offer a free gift to all subscribers as an incentive.
  • Once you've got them signed up, keep in touch with them but don't become a pest!

There we have it a whirlwind journey through marketing basics.

I hope you found this useful. I'd love your feedback; tweet me: @NBSkinner or leave a comment below.

Until next time ... NBS