There are many companies that can thrive following the tried and true methods of traditional marketing initiatives. If you are one of those companies, it makes sense to place yourself in the most familiar arenas, where potential customers expect to see you. That is, if your intention is to compete with Coca-Cola for mindshare, it is probably in your best interest to utilize bold advertisements in print and television media.
But many other companies are learning that traditional approaches are no longer sufficient to convey their message and effectively convert the casual shopper into a paying customer or even better, a brand evangelist. It used to be that you could distinguish your company through lowest prices or a sparkling slogan. Now, however, these old silver bullets will barely leave a dent in the mind of the modern consumer. What can your company do today to stand out above the noise and clutter?
Education-Based marketing is the act of creating marketing materials and executing on strategies that distinguish your company as a knowledgeable authority and resource in your area of expertise. Notice the inclusion of "resource", as it is uncharacteristic to antiquated marketing approaches. It follows the revised premise that to be an active and valuable participant in the information age, one must become an information center.
With multiple, seemingly identical solutions popping up everyday in various industries, those that will shine are those that can lend a hand to their audience, rather than using that same hand to bludgeon their audience with an exhausted sales pitch.
Author David Frey has outlined not only how the average customer has become numb to the sales pitch, but also the underlying goals and burgeoning techniques of Educational Marketing. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to flip the script, and focus on the questions of customers rather than the sensational hype associated with a typical sales pitch.
Say you were the owner of an oil change store. A standard approach to market your business would be to place ads that say:
“Get Your Oil Changed Here for Just $14.95!”
The information and help you can provide your customer is the new hype. The emphasis of such techniques revolves around the establishment of trust. By assisting in the open sharing of information, you become an ally to your consumer, rather than the oft-avoided vacuum cleaner salesman.
One main concern that can come with Educational Marketing initiatives is "How do I monetize these new informed shoppers?" Frey goes on to map out the packaging of one's educational message through multimedia options such as video tapes, email courses, and seminars which can extend the dialogue and thus your marketing window of opportunity. Such long-term, or “drip” campaigns can have a tremendous impact on the duration of your trust-based relationship and the lifetime value of your prospective customers.
What is your educational message?
This video teaches you how to create an effective company analysis section that will educate investors about your company’s history, past accomplishments, and unique qualifications.
Watch the first installation of our new Business Plan Video series.
This video, "How to Write an Executive Summary," provides advice on how to create a compelling executive summary for your business plan.
We are proud to announce the launch of the Growthink Business Plan Video section within our Business Plan Help Center.
These videos walk you through each section of the business plan, providing expert tips and advice on how to construct your business plan to better stimulate, engage, and impress your audience.
To make your new venture succeed -- whether you are creating a new product, constructing a hotel, or developing a community center -- you must convince investors and/or management to fund your initiatives.
Feasibility studies play a critical role in this early planning and fundraising process.
A feasibility study is a detailed investigation and research analysis of a proposed venture or development project. The purpose of a feasibility study is to determine whether it is technically and financially feasible to move forward with a new project.
An effective feasibility study demonstrates the following:
To help you navigate through the feasibility study development process, we have just released a special report titled:
13 Costly Feasibility Study Mistakes – And How To Avoid Them
In this free report, you will learn:
Click here to download the report.
Are you looking to raise venture capital?
You need a good idea – and an excellent business plan.
Business planning and raising venture capital go hand-in-hand. A business plan is required for attracting venture capital. And the desire to raise capital (whether from an individual “angel” investor or a venture capital firm) is often the key motivator in the business planning process.
But how exactly will your business plan persuade investors to sign a check?
This article provides advice on how to position each section of the business plan for an investor audience. These tips draw on Growthink’s decade of experience consulting to start-ups in the business planning and capital raising process.
Goal of the executive summary: Stimulate and motivate the investor to learn more.
Goal of the company analysis section: Educate the investor about your company’s history and explain why your team is perfect to execute on the business opportunity.
Goal of the industry analysis section: Prove that there is a real market for your product or service.
Goal of customer analysis section: Convey the needs of your customers and show how your company’s products/services satisfy those needs.
Goal of the competitive analysis section: Define the competition and demonstrate your competitive advantage.
Goal of the marketing plan: Describe how your company will penetrate the market, deliver products/services, and retain customers.
Goal of the operations plan: Present the action plan for executing on your company’s vision.
Goal of the financial plan: Explain how your business will generate returns for your investors.
Above all, the business plan is a marketing document that helps to sell the investor on the business opportunity, the management team, the strategy, and the potential for significant return on investment.
Raising venture capital is a difficult and time-intensive challenge. There is no easy shortcut or silver bullet. However, you can greatly improve your chances of raising venture capital by writing a business plan that speaks directly to the investor’s perspective.
Ready to get started? Download Growthink's business plan template and finish your business plan today.
Since 1999, Growthink's professional business plan writers and investment bankers have assisted more than 2,000 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.
Need help with your business plan?
Speak with a professional business plan writer today.
Raising money from individual "angel" investors?
Contact our private placement memorandum experts.
Or, if you're developing our own PPM, consider using Growthink's new private placement memorandum template.
1. To prove that you’re serious about your business. A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties -- employees, investors, partners and yourself -- that you are committed to building the business.
2. To establish business milestones. The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you'd certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.
3. To better understand your competition. Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company's competitive advantages.
4. To better understand your customer. Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don't? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business.
5. To enunciate previously unstated assumptions. The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously "hidden" assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity.
6. To assess the feasibility of your venture. How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture.
7. To document your revenue model. How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model.
8. To determine your financial needs. Does your business need to raise capital? How much? The business plan creation process helps you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital.
9. To attract investors. A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors' questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company's exit strategy?
10. To reduce the risk of pursuing the wrong opportunity. The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities.
11. To force you to research and really know your market. What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace.
12. To attract employees and a management team. To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals.
13. To plot your course and focus your efforts. The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones.
14. To attract partners. Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.
15. To position your brand. Creating the business plan helps to define your company's role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners.
16. To judge the success of your business. A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).
17. To reposition your business to deal with changing conditions. For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.
18. To document your marketing plan. How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business.
19. To understand and forecast your company’s staffing needs. After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion.
20. To uncover new opportunities. Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business.
Since 1999, Growthink's business plan experts have assisted more than 1,500 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.
Need help with your business plan?
Speak with a professional business plan writer today.
Or, if you're creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink's new private placement memorandum template.
Seth Godin’s Purple Cow has a relatively simple premise that new products need to be truly remarkable in order to succeed. His book is packed with great examples and insights.
In this video, Godin starts off by explaining the failure of the sliced bread machine and explaining that ideas that spread, win. Worth watching: