Marketing is simply communication. Communicating information about a product or service to potential and existing customers.
The most basic form of marketing is “word-of-mouth” but first you need to have customers talking about your offering. You need to communicate the value, the benefit and why your company, product or service is different to the rest.
Too often though, business owners think marketing and think television advertisements, newspaper and magazine advertisements and big dollars but it doesn’t have to be.
The digital age has provided so many more avenues to advertise and it can be free. Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest among other social media platforms. There are also email platforms such as MailChimp, Active Campaign and Constant Contact or survey apps such Survey Monkey – interesting how primates feature strongly – and Zoomerang, with most of these offering free accounts, not just free trials. Free accounts! All have limits which if you exceed those, will incur a fee but MailChimp for example allows 2,000 emails before fees kick in.
Defining your target market is the first step, aim smaller and you should hit your target if your target is too broad it will just be diluted. Narrowing down your target market enables you to define a much clearer message, rather than one which needs to be generalised, this also helps to zero in on the value and benefit proposition.
The Small Business Development Corporation has a great definition of marketing “Marketing is getting the right product or service in the right quantity, to the right place, at the right time and making a profit in the process”. The SBDC also list the six “P’s” to creating an effective marketing plan—
Their website has some very useful guides and a marketing plan template to assist with defining your strategy.
Part of your marketing strategy is knowing who your competition is and what they are doing. This is a key part of marketing research and again it helps to define your target market, your company’s value and benefits to the customer.
Usually traditional marketing such as direct mail, advertising and printed material does incur costs, unless in-house you have a design guru, fabulous printer and volunteers to do a mail drop. So the social media options may be your only option and they can be a very good option.
If you can budget for some traditional options and combine this with a digital campaign you can generally cover all bases. Traditional methods are more proactive and involve you reaching out to customers, rather than expecting them to find you online. Hard copy can also be retained and be on-hand for ready reference. Consider financing your marketing campaign, it is after all an important aspect of growing your business. Factoring can provide the finance you need.
Increasingly the advice is to tell a story, the company story, the story behind the product or the story about your team. It is not just about the product or the service anymore and the story you tell could be your unique point, your differentiator. Think about the “why” and you could just find the “how”.