Marketing, along with financing, is usually the number one concern for entrepreneurs. However, understanding how marketing works is best explained through concrete examples from start-ups.

I connected with two Futurpreneur Canada entrepreneurs, Kailey Gilchrist of NONA Vegan Foods and Bojana Nedic of Pearl’s Choice, to talk about their initial perception of their marketing approaches and how that shifted.

Budgeting for marketing

Kailey Gilchrist, founder of NONA Vegan Foods, main strategy was contacting health food stores to carry her pasta sauce. She knew that she couldn’t just have her products sit on the shelf—there needed to be a push for awareness. The key for her was to do in-store demonstrations and she realized how important this was to build up a customer base. “I underestimated how much it would cost for the in-store demos,” Kailey admitted.

Consistency is key

Lack of a marketing budget is not the only thing that can slowdown sales. Kailey identified Instagram as one of her key social media apps in helping with her marketing efforts. As with most start-ups, there is never enough time in the day and when Kailey got busy she would often forget to post on Instagram. She also noticed, when this happened, her sales would dip. Consistency is so important to any form of marketing. Sometimes it’s the only real difference between success and failure.

Don’t be in a hurry to spend

In many cases it’s not wise to rush to spend marketing dollars. Bojana Nedic, co-founder at Pearl’s Choice, an online retirement home guide, focused on developing a value driven website. However, what surprised her was how important it was to develop partnerships with vendors which in turn cemented her offering. This ultimately led Pearl’s Choice to develop another revenue stream.

Test assumptions, often

Marketing also involves reassessing ones assumption. Bojana believed what many people were telling her about her target audience. However, her website analytics gave her a different story.  After careful analysis she redesigned her website to better reflect the reality of her best customer. This also had the desired effect on how she should spend her marketing dollars more effectively.

If there is a lesson with all this it’s this: Marketing is more about refinement then it is about the initial idea. It’s a lesson that is relevant in all aspects of starting a business but especially true when it comes to getting customers.

Written By: Dominik Loncar, Futurpreneur Canada Entrepreneur-in-Residence, dloncar@futurpreneur.ca 

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