How to market a new business.

If you have started your own business you could probably tell the rest of us what marketing is all about as you have already made the jump into territory demanding passion, insight and sheer bloody courage.

What are you selling and why will people want to buy it?

This is the big, and probably the only question that really matters. Strangely many people misunderstand what they are selling. They think they are selling insurance when they are actually selling peace of mind. They think people will buy it because of its price when they’ll actually buy it because they trust the supplier.

Think about what makes you, you the owner or the leader, special and different; about your achievements and your interests; most importantly about the way you behave; about what your friends think about you; about why you really started this business. Do not underestimate or suppress your own personality in creating your marketing. Remember Ben and Jerry. Look at Steve Jobs.

If you aren’t excited why should anyone else be excited?

There’s been a trend towards thinking about marketing as a scientific, left brained process. I couldn’t disagree more. Marketing is about the passionate business of packaging, presenting, creating stories about a business and selling to people. If you don’t create a sense of “wow” about it you are doing yourself a major disservice.

All my life there’s been one word that turns people on in business.


A new business is by definition exciting. New is an excuse for telling a great story.

Don’t underestimate generosity of spirit

We bought a chicken at Waitrose that, when we started to cook it, smelt as though it had seen better days. I took the reeking fowl back to the shop ready for a fight. It never happened. “That’s terrible,” they said “we’ll refund the money. No we won’t, we’ll double refund it to compensate for the problem.” They didn’t have to do that. They decided off their own bat to be nice and generous.

You want people to experience your product or service so give it away to start with. See what people think about it. Have conversations about it. If you’ve given it to them they’ll respond by telling you if it meets their needs and expectations.

The world’s commodity in shortest supply is “attention”

In my early days in marketing there was little media…ITV was the only commercial channel, the web didn’t exist, Radio Luxembourg was the only commercial radio station. So getting attention was determined by three things: what and how you said it and how much you spent saying or shouting it.

Today we are surrounded by an unending barrage of white noise. Our supermarkets are crammed with brands chattering at us. Television advertising is about the advertisers, uninvited guests entering someone’s sitting room and as they open their mouths to speak being vapourised by the remote control. And there is never enough money. Not if even if you are P&G or Google.

Spend a lot of time thinking how to make yourself stand out so you are  seen, heard, remembered and understood. If your customers pay attention to you that’s 50% of the battle won.

Be boring at your peril

However good your product if you are dull in the way you describe it you are in danger of killing it. I learned about being interesting on social media from singer songwriter Emily Baker when she described tweeting about some music she liked,  being joined by Johnny Cash’s daughter and then a Radio One DJ who as a result of an interesting conversation played Emily’s music on his show. “I could never have asked him directly” she said. “That would have been gauche and awful.”

Being interesting and having decent conversations with people is the contemporary currency in marketing that works best.

Don’t network

The word “network” should be banned. Someone actually came up to me at a book award event and said, actually said “hallo; I’m networking. Who are you?”

Meet as many people that you like and want to spend time with as possible. This is a quality not a quantity game. So don’t network, just have interesting conversations with inspiring new people.

Keep your story simple, fun and interesting and enjoy telling it to them.

And keep on changing the way you tell it to see if there’s a better way of getting it across – there usually is.

Most great marketing stories are about simplicity, energy, persistence and enthusiasm.

Become one of those great new marketing stories.

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