pop marketingGetting initial users or customers is a very manual process because at the early stage you are still figuring things out. It often involves meeting in person and convincing the client to give your product or service a try and then holding their hand through the process, fixing unexpected bugs along the way.

At this early stage of the business you are primarily focused on finding a core group of early adopters who will give your product or service a go and hopefully recommend it to people they know. You are focused on sales rather than marketing.

It’s important to understand the different roles played by marketing and sales at different stages of your business. They are essentially different ends of a continuum – marketing is broad and shallow. It’s about how many eyeballs you can attract; sales sit on the other end of the continuum. It is shallow and deep and focused on reaching fewer people, but engaging them more fully and hopefully leading them to purchase.


Changing your Focus

The problem is that when you start a business you are bombarded with advice about marketing. This causes you to shift your focus to the wrong end of the continuum. Early stage companies need that direct relationship with a customer that comes with selling. It gets you out there talking to people and finding out whether your product actually has legs.

The problem is that what people normally consider marketing is a step removed from their customer. They usually think of marketing as the fun stuff; designing websites and advertisements and seeing your name in print. In contrast, sales are hard. But what you really need at this stage is direct feedback from your client and that can be demoralising if its not as good as you’re hoping.

Marketing also looks more impressive when you are talking in terms of reach often in the thousands and tens of thousands. When you compare that to sales which might only be single digits it raises issues you might not what to think about. But sales bring in the money. and impact on your ability to grow. The questions you should be asking yourself include:: Are sales increasing each week and each month? How fast are they growing? Do I have a sensible sales pipeline and retention strategy?


EdlfLogoHow do you do it?

Just the word ‘sales’ conjures up images of used car salesmen and leaves many people feeling decidedly uncomfortable. This is very often rooted in fear and lack of knowledge. You might think you’re not a good salesperson or you don’t even know where to begin. We recognise this is a problem for many companies which is why this round of the Entrepreneur Development Loan Fund will be focused on companies looking at developing skills in marketing and sales.

The Entrepreneur Development Loan Fund is a new micro-finance loan program funded by ERM Business Energy, Epicorp Limited and Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre that provides low cost (3%), unsecured loans of up to $10,000 to assist with the costs of skills and knowledge transfer to key individuals in businesses in the ACT with growth potential. These loan funds assist recipients to cover the cost of bringing in experienced business mentors to help them develop or refine key skills and capabilities that will help them grow the company. The mentor or mentors will work with the individual on a defined project that will make a difference in the business.

For more information contact Lighthouse on (02) 6163-8300 or email [email protected] 


Photo by: Roslyn Clark

About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit www.lighthouseinnovation.com.au for more information.