Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Building Credibilty in the Marketplace, When You Are Unknown

I recently wrote this article for my MS-Marketing Capstone class. For this class I am working with a small green energy company in Cincinnati, OH to develop and implement a strategic marketing plan to help build awareness and grow their business. We share our experiences in class in order to help each other as much as possible. Everyone has their own project, so their is no competition. Often times our experiences can be applied to situations our classmates are also dealing with. The article is reprinted below because I felt that someone else may find value in it.

One of the issues which I have been dealing with since beginning this project (and will continue with until the end) is how to build credibility as a business when you are a completely new and unknown company. This is not an easy thing. When competing companies are more established and well-known, have a history with the public, and are often trusted more by consumers for this reason it can be very hard to get noticed in the marketplace. Even more difficult than getting noticed is persuading trials of your product or service afterwards.
I see a lot of parallels between this issue of promoting a new company, and an individual with limited experience, say a recent college graduate, promoting themselves when trying to obtain a good job. Other candidates that have graduated years before - perhaps with the same degree - may have quite a bit more experience, and are more likely to catch an employer’s attention. When marketing oneself, it is always helpful to differentiate oneself in some way in order to stand out from the crowd, and hopefully get noticed. Aside from the usual tactics of clever follow-ups and resumes that speak to specific qualities that a candidate knows they can play up and elaborate on in interviews, new media seems to be a good way to stand out in the pool of talent which employers are choosing from. A professional web page, such as a compelling blog about yourself, your interests, qualifications and expertise, or an impressive profile on will offer a lot towards informing an employer about who you are, and how you may add value to their company. On LinkedIn, for example, having many professional connections recommend past work with them (professional or school related) will speak very highly of an individual. These are references which an employer can read without having to have a conversation with only one or two people which may not be as informative (or, perhaps they don’t have the time). Also, this usually takes place before the interview, whereas references are called upon after the fact. Being a member of several professional groups (which they too may be a member of), or having several connections in common may get you noticed and/or introduced to that person whom you want to take notice.
With a new business, the goal is the same as are many of the steps. Traditional marketing techniques are good. However, a small company with little money may find themselves remaining in the same ocean with millions of other fish, only this time their pockets are lighter, and they still have not achieved the desired results. The internet has had a tremendous influence on business, especially for the little guy. Technology has help to level the playing field for everyone whether new or old, big or small, known or unknown. What’s more, companies with young talent – those exhibiting a new and fresh way of looking at things, and who use technology to their advantage instead of shying away from it have a good chance at finding success. New companies that choose to utilize the internet to its fullest potential can see of a world of opportunity opened up to them, and often at little expense.
Right now, I am working with my client on developing a new website for their products. We will use search engine optimization (SEO) tools to ensure that we can be found on a search engine such as Google the same as any large conglomerate. Next, we will continue using the internet to establish ourselves. Social networking sites are amazing at getting the word out on any new product or service, and may also help to iron any kinks out more quickly. Allowing people to follow you and your company, offer feedback, and interact more closely brings people into your world, and gives your business the human touch which so many companies wish they had with their customers. Blogging on your products or on the latest developments in your field also enables interaction with potential customers and allows one to share their expertise and gain credibility in the market. For a young company, perhaps the best part about using social media in a marketing strategy is that so many others do not think of it, or do not think of it as necessary. This seems to be the case with many established companies because they either do not want to change with the times, or they just do not have the young talent to help them understand the value that this type of marketing can have when included in the strategic marketing plan for the company. Either way, the opportunity is there for any company willing to take advantage, and right now the door is wide open for the underdogs – small businesses and new start-ups.