January 3, 2018 | Business Victoria
After many years working in media, Mellissah Smith realised she needed a change. She craved a marketing job that would allow her to work behind the scenes and use her creative side.
In response, Mellissah branched out and launched Insomnia – her first business venture – a marketing service for corporates. It wasn’t long before she gained confidence and applied her experience to establish Marketing Eye – a marketing service for small businesses – in 2004.
Marketing Eye has grown rapidly since its inception in Australia, and recently Mellissah has started to conquer the US. Here, Mellissah provides some insight on how, like her, others can market a start-up business successfully.
For start-ups, generating leads can be a real hurdle. Mellissah recommends finding gaps in the market instead of stealing clients from other businesses. When she began her business venture, Mellissah focused on finding clients that did not already have a marketing partner. She zeroed in on corporations branching into Australia from overseas.
The effort didn’t end once she had secured the clients. ‘It is important you always provide exceptional customer service, and be accessible to your clients at all times. If you are helpful, customers will share their good experiences with others. You will get positive word-of-mouth referrals that will help your business grow.’
Although her business quickly began to thrive in Australia, Mellissah found that breaking into the US was like starting from the ground up.
She knew forming a strong digital presence was essential – this would help her company rank on Google, since it had no US visibility yet.
It was crucial that the site converted visitors into customers, not just passers-by, so she first ensured that the website was perfect. She also pushed social media activity heavily (she currently dedicates one person to spend two hours each day on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). As a result, the company now averages one sale per week through social media marketing.
She also implemented Email Direct Marketing (EDMs) as an online tactic. To get the word out to an initial pool of recipients, Mellissah bought a database of contacts from a list broker.
Businesses are born from great ideas, but founding a company without proper research is one of the biggest mistakes Mellissah sees on a regular basis. She encourages business owners to ask, ‘Is my service/product required by the market? Is there demand?’
It’s vital to understand your market and figure out how valuable your service or product will be before launching into anything. To conduct such research, Mellissah suggests looking at what your competitors are doing and talking to industry associations to familiarise yourself with the scene. You can also run focus groups and leverage what information is on the internet. For example, reading online reports and checking for articles and niche-specific information will help you understand the market better – and improve your chances of success.