Marketing is anything but an exact science. It can be a bit overwhelming to a small business owner sorting through all the hype and hoopla. But hopefully, the following information might be helpful in breaking the marketing process down into a few sections that will help get you started on the process of marketing your business more successfully.
Define your niche. As the old Greek saying goes, "know thyself". What sets you apart from your competition? Why should I buy from you versus your competitor?
What need, want or emotion does your product or service fulfill that your competitor's does not? If a lower price is your only advantage, then you are not establishing a long term market, because there will always be someone else that will try to sell it for a dollar less. They may not succeed for very long, either, but may succeed long enough to put you out of business.
Knowing your competition is important, but there is a danger in getting too caught up with the competition. I know of small business owners who felt that they had to put the competition out of business and lost focus on just being a leader in the market. If a company will focus on being the best they can be, providing the best product and service at a competitive but sustainable price, the competition will take care of itself. Be a leader in your market instead of chasing the competition. As soon as your focus changes to your competition, you have begun chasing instead of leading. Market leaders are original. They set the bar for the market.
Know your customers. Know who your ideal customer is and create a persona for them. You may need to create a couple different personas depending on the product or service you provide. Give your personas a name and describe them in detail. Know their age range, marital status, age of their children, where they live, where they work, where they travel, how they travel, what they listen to, what they watch, what they eat and anything else about their lifestyle that you are able to define.
This information is crucial in determining the next step in designing your image and your marketing plan. After you analyze your demographics, you may want to reevaluate your niche. You may want to tweak your product or service slightly to become an even better fit for that certain market.
Designing your plan. This involves every aspect of both your product or service as well as your company's public image.
Designing your brand. The company's name and logo should reflect the proper image that you want to portray. This is the brand that the customers will identify with. Does it appeal to your market? Is it memorable? Are your products packaged properly? Presentation is still extremely important. This brand should be consistent across all your printed materials, company signs and vehicle graphics, your website and other advertising.
Design a great marketing plan. How will you reach your target clients? Plans will vary greatly depending on if you are wholesaling or retailing. Even for a wholesale market, you may have to be involved in the retail end of it by providing the proper packaging and display and support materials for the retailer. How will you reach your buyer? A sales representative, direct sales, trade shows, online or retail storefront? Then you have the development of your advertisements. Depending on your demographics, this might include signs, posters, newspaper ads, radio or TV commercials. The possibilities and variables are almost infinite.
Because of the many variables and options, the marketing may have to be done in stages. This is where the next step becomes very important.
Deploying the plan and tracking the results. Every marketing program has its limits, and that limit is usually defined by the budget. Trying to advertise everywhere to everyone and hoping something works is a shotgun approach and is usually done when there is no plan. If something does happen to work, it becomes almost impossible to track and figure out what was or wasn't successful.
Placement and tracking are crucial. The more detailed the plan the easier it becomes to track the return on investment ( ROI). Tracking can be difficult at times but is well worth the time it takes to gather the data. Sometimes, you simply have to ask every client how they found you. If you can track your advertising, then you can repeat and expand on what was successful and grow your sales much quicker than taking a shotgun approach and never being quite sure what works and what doesn't.
Of course… the next step might well be to contact us, and we will be glad to help you evaluate your marketing plan and provide certain services that you may need to accomplish your plan.