The start-up business culture in Calgary is thriving. There are dozens of companies being launched each and every week, helped along by the city’s venture capitalists and angel investors and fueled by passion, drive, and just plain good ideas. We applaud anyone with the courage and fortitude necessary to basically forego job security for as long as it takes to eventually become their own boss. For those who are in the very starting stages, who have a great concept, and who are willing to take a bit of a risk in their lives, here is our guide to starting a business in Alberta.
Startups do abound in this city, but when it comes to actually growing your business, unfortunately the failure rate is high. Startups are amazing for adding innovation and diversity to an economy, but according to iinovate.com’s article “Filling The “Scale-Up” Gap – Why supporting growth companies is critical for businesses and communities,” the number of small businesses that simply can’t break into the market – or create their own – reaches up to 90%. Experts and scholars often refer to this as what is known as the scale-up gap, and that abyss has claimed many, many awesome entrepreneurs.
Being classified as a high growth firm is where you want your business to be. As defined by investopedia.com, “A growth firm is a company growing faster than its peers or the broader economy. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules of defining growth, these firms generally have increased annual revenues by more than the industry average over a sustained period.” To continue in that vein, high-growth firms are easily the greatest contributor to the economy. From 2009 to 2012 in Canada, high-growth firms made up just 1.24% of all businesses, but accounted for about 63% of net employment growth.
Growing a business properly requires a delicate mix of intuition, innovation, education, evolutionary thinking, and, of course, a ton of research. It also requires smart marketing. Let’s face it, good marketing is what drives sales to your business, and that is the ultimate goal. But every big goal comes with a lot of little goals that need to be reached in order to get to the final outcome. People need to be introduced to you and what you do somehow, and that is where we come in.
Emphasize Design provides online marketing and web design services. As you work to reach your business goals, we will coincide your website design and marketing efforts with your business development plans. This is the best way to move from a startup to a high growth firm. Planning is key, and as part of our web design and marketing package we will provide you with a comprehensive outline of an online marketing plan for you. This includes not only leveraging the contents of your website, but also integrating the power of social media into the mix.
Let’s talk about the basic elements of a good marketing plan and why it’s crucial for the growth of your business.
Design Your Marketing Plan for 12 Months Each Time
The essentials of a marketing plan are pretty much the same for each business, so these components can be applied to various different types of companies. Your marketing plan provides a strong foundation from which to grow, and also allows for you to revisit different campaigns to see what was most successful and what maybe didn’t work as well as you thought it would. It allows you to “rinse and repeat” the good stuff year after year, as you can keep adding vital information about everything you needed to accomplish a certain goal, making it easier and easier to complete tasks and keep on track.
A good marketing plan should include:
- A summary of your business, including what you do, your mission statement, and an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (or SWOT analysis). A SWOT analysis take a long time to complete, so don’t worry if you are having a hard time coming up with examples right off the top. Just remember to keep filling it out as your business moves along and as issues arise. It will be a great “reminder repository” for when challenges seem insurmountable.
- Your marketing initiatives and goals. Think of the calendar year ahead and see if there are any marketing campaigns you can plan to coincide with holidays, seasons, et cetera. Also detail the start and end date of each campaign, their duration, and the collateral you will need.
- A description of your target market. This can be determined through your customer relationship management tool (CRM) tool, an examination of your social media audience, through surveys and focus groups, and by taking note of who is actually buying your products or services.
- An overview of your marketing strategy, such as how you are going to make yourself stand out among your competitors.
- Your budget. This is crucial to ensure you are putting your money where it should go. As Emphasize’s marketing expert, I can provide tips for directed ad campaigns that don’t cost a lot, but that go directly to your target audience.
- Your marketing channels. These include your website, your social media accounts, your printed ads, and so on.
As mentioned, your marketing plan should evolve each year to keep what worked, throw out what didn’t and include new opportunities.
Don’t Have the Time to Market Yourself? Ask Us
Emphasize Design specializes in inbound marketing techniques, which work to draw in customers, build their trust and establish a real relationship that will last. Unlike the scattershot approach of traditional outbound campaigns, we employ the effective use of analytics and customer relationship management systems to provide you with a lot of useful data about your potential and existing customers. We can then use that information to improve your communication with your clientele by creating original, useful content for your site that your customers seek out and want to interact with. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.