Are you new to the business world? Or perhaps a little rusty? Don’t worry. Even the most seasoned business leaders could stand to sharpen their marketing edge now and again. We’re here to help. In this post, we plan on telling you 8 steps that can take marketing your business to the next level.
Ever feel like no one knows who you are?
Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, and indeed all the biggest brands in the world don’t have that problem.
They were once small businesses struggling to make a name for themselves in their respective niches.
Today, they’re household names and we see their ads everywhere. You might not know what their actual products are or why they’re better than their competitors’, but you know the brand exists and that it’s legit.
But if you’re a small business, how can you possibly get on the same level as these huge corporations?
You need to market yourself. And that is one thing all of the world’s most successful businesses have in common.
Of course, not every small business grows into a Fortune 500 company, but you’ll never know unless you start marketing your business.
Marketing is the art of making yourself stand out from the crowd in a way that will make people want to buy whatever it is you’re selling.
It is all very well coming up with an idea for a business, but it’s only half the battle. If you don’t tell people about your business, even the most brilliant idea will stay a secret. So, go forth, get in the face of potential customers, and tell everyone how great your stuff is.
Whether it’s an online course you’re selling or an e-book, the principles of marketing are essentially the same. The goal is to create awareness and get people interested in what you have to offer.
The result of marketing is increased sales and profits, which should be the ultimate objective of any business. Marketing is one of those things that’s hard to do well but essential for success.
Here are Eight Steps you can Follow to Market your Products or Services Effectively
Step 1: Set your Marketing Goal
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins
Like a good battlefield general, you wouldn’t send your troops off on a mission without first knowing what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. You need to set clear goals so your marketing efforts are aligned with where you want your business to be.
Business owners need to be able to see the big picture as well as how each department can contribute. For instance, marketing isn’t just about creating a great product – it’s also about making sure that potential customers know how it will help them, and creating excitement around it.
Goal setting is crucial for any company – not just the big guys! Marketing goals are tied to your overall business objectives, so they should be created with your company’s mission and vision in mind.
It’s not enough to just set a goal of “getting more customers” or “growing sales by 20%”. One of the best ways to set goals is by using the SMART criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-specific. And to be sure you’re hitting that goal, you should also have an end date for completion.
For many small businesses, their biggest marketing challenge is getting new customers while keeping existing ones happy.
So, an example of a SMART goal for a small independent coffee shop might be:
To increase customer visits by 5% by the 31st of December (end of the year) and achieve a gross profit of $30 per customer visit through effective social media marketing.
Some goal setting tips to add to your marketing toolbox:
- Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. You shouldn’t set targets that are too high or too low – don’t set yourself up for failure!
- Share your goals with your team so they are inspired to help you get there too.
- Ensure that you can measure progress towards your goal.
- Create both long and short term goals – this will help you keep the momentum
- Choose something you can track like sales or website traffic.
- Make it personal – It has to motivate you so make it mean something to you (and your business). If it doesn’t excite you then it’s not worth doing.
Step 2: Do some Market Research
Let’s get something straight:
“Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong.
Now, with this perspective, marketing research can be your best tool to understand the market needs, identify problems and create solutions. I’m sure you can imagine what an amazing opportunity this is!
Before we continue, let us say this… market research doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need a fancy degree or certification to be able to do this.
Think about it like this: Marketing research is just gathering information about how you can potentially solve a problem.
The first question is: is there a problem that needs a solution? Who has the problem? How big is the problem? Is it a niche or broad problem?
Up next, research your competition. This would answer the question: Who else is solving the problem?
Make sure to look at who they are and what they’re offering. Also, look at how they’re going about marketing themselves (how’s their tone and language). What works for them? What doesn’t? Also, consider their placement and prices.
Also, check out reviews and testimonials to see what customers are saying about them. What do they like? What do they want more of? What services could be improved upon? You’ll be able to use this to help guide your marketing strategy and create something that helps fill in any gaps in the market.
Remember, competition isn’t always bad – it’s in many instances a good indicator that means there’s demand. Your goal should be to see what you can do to differentiate yourself from them.
Step 3: Define the people who will Buy your Product or Services!
The outcome of this step is simple: a short profile of the type of person who will purchase from you.
This profile (a “buyer persona”) should include both demographic and psychographic information about your target customers, such as age, income level, and occupation as well as their challenges and interests.
This information is critical because it will help you create content that speaks directly to them and resonates with them. You can use an online tool such as Google Analytics to find out more about the people who currently visit your site so you can target an audience similar to them. You can also use social media analytics tools to learn more about the audience of competitors or other relevant businesses in your industry.
For example, sticking with a coffee business, you will want to know a lot about the people who buy coffee. If you’re just starting, don’t worry too much about the details—just come up with a generic idea of who buys coffee. It could be something as simple as “people who live in cities.” As you grow, you can refine your target audience into more specific groups of people, such as people under 35 who live in urban areas, have jobs that require mental effort and/or work at night (e.g., doctors and lawyers), and drink more than three cups of coffee per day.
Step 4: Create your Sales Pitch
Marketers have more power than ever before to reach the right people at the right time with the right message.
But here’s the kicker: It’s not enough just to get a message out there. The best marketing campaigns are authentic, personal, and true to the brand’s personality. The most successful brands have a voice that resonates with their audience, knowing exactly how to grab their attention and connect with them on an emotional level.
So what do we mean by “determining your sales pitch”?
A great sales pitch is like a mini-story of how buying from you will benefit your customer.
Your sales pitch should answer these questions:
What are your core values? What do you stand for? What do you offer? How does your offering make the life of the customer better? What makes you different from your competitors? This is your unique value proposition.
Step 5: Choose and Initiate your Marketing Tactics
This in the eyes of many, is where the rubber hits the road.
Coschedule defines marketing tactics as “the strategic actions that direct the promotion of a product or service to influence specific marketing goals.”
These are the things that you’re going to do to build your brand and reach people. If you want to market your business online, then social media may be a good place to start. If you want to promote via email, then start building a list for your target audience. Tactics can be anything from sending emails to running a contest on social media. The possibilities are endless!
What to consider before you Choose a Marketing Tactic:
- Align your marketing tactics with your overall strategy and goals.
- Choose marketing tactics that are a good fit for your business and industry.
- How will you track the results of your marketing tactics? What metrics do you need to measure to determine if your tactic is successful?
- What is the cost (time, money, or other resources) of implementing the tactic?
Examples of Common Marketing Tactics:
Create a website:
A website is the backbone of your brand identity online. It’s where you can introduce yourself to potential customers, inform them about your products and services, and encourage them to work with you. Consider using subdomains like shop.[yourwebsite].com or blog.[yourwebsite].com to organize different types of content on your site so that it’s easier for people to find what they’re looking for. Subdomains could also be created for specific language/locations such as fr.[yourwebsite].com (for French) or it.[yourwebsite].com (for Italian) where applicable. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so that people on their phones can easily access it.
Social Media Marketing:
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can help you build your brand, attract customers and drive sales. For example, you could create a Facebook fan page or group to share news and information with like-minded people.
Direct mail: Letters, postcards, pamphlets, and other print materials delivered through the postal service.
Messages are distributed via email to a targeted list of names or addresses.
Trade shows, conferences, and other events that allow you to interact directly with potential customers and clients.
Sponsored ads you place on websites to reach online audiences who visit those sites. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is an online advertising model where you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Common PPC platforms include Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, etc.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
SEO is targeted at making your content rank in search engines like Google.
In conclusion, your marketing tactic would involve the following components: a message, medium, and audience.
Your message is how you want to communicate with your target market. Your medium is the vehicle for your message. And finally, the audience is where you’ll reach out to and communicate your message.
With this understanding, a one-size-fits-all marketing tactic doesn’t work for any business. It all depends on what works best for you. Also, you may have to use several different mediums depending on how diverse your customer base is.
Step 6: Define your Budget
So you’ve decided on the most suitable marketing tactics. Next, you need to define your budget. This is an important step that’s often overlooked. You need to allocate a realistic amount of money for the campaign and decide how you will pay for it.
Again, it’s helpful to consider the information gathered in the previous steps. By now, you’ve got a good handle on your target audience and the media they consume. You know what kind of message will resonate with them, and which channels are best suited to reaching them. This is useful when calculating the costs of renting space or buying advertising on those various platforms.
The next step would be to estimate how many people will see your advertising (or hear it, or read it). The more people who see your advertisement, the higher cost involved in getting that ad out there. So if you can estimate how many people each dollar spent will reach, then you can determine a relevant budget based on how many people you want/need to reach with your message.
Another way is to use an industry average. Google ‘marketing budgets by industry’ and you’ll find several articles that break down marketing costs by industry.
If your company is successful and profitable, then you’ll be able to increase your marketing budget each year to reach new customers and retain existing ones. If you have little or no profit then it’s harder to justify spending money on marketing before making changes to your cost structure or increasing sales revenue.
As a rule of thumb, a small business making less than USD5 million per annum in profit should allocate 7-8% of its gross revenue for marketing and advertising. This figure is recommended by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as an appropriate starting point for budgeting purposes.
Step 7: Treat your Loyal Customers like Royalty
There’s a temptation to put all your energy into chasing new customers. It might seem counter-intuitive but as well as spending time promoting your business to new customers, it’s also important to look after your existing ones.
And to borrow from the words of Chris Coleman OBE, Welsh professional soccer manager, and ex-player: “With success comes complacency if you let it happen. It is human nature; there is that urge to think about how well you have done.” In other words, as a business owner, you’re constantly fighting against the urge to rest on your laurels especially when it comes to “customers in the bag” – and not work hard enough to keep those customers happy.
Treating your existing customers as if they are unimportant can be the biggest mistake you make. It’s important to remember that it costs more to attract a new customer than to keep one you already have.
One way to keep your attention focused on what matters is to come up with a customer loyalty program. This could be as simple as a ‘buy two get the third one free’ card or something more complex like offering a subscription service where loyal fans receive a monthly package of goodies or receive access to special events. The key is finding something that works for your business and will encourage repeat custom.
See your loyal customers as an extension of your brand – brand ambassadors brimming with the potential to spread the word about you to others. If you wow them, then they will not only come back for more but hopefully with their friends and family.
Step 8: Monitor and Adjust as Necessary
A cold hard fact: The bulk of your results can be traced back to a small amount of your effort – that is the 80%-20% rule.
What has this got to do with this step? Everything! if you have not monitored or measured your marketing efforts then you are not going to know what works and what doesn’t.
Your goal is to ultimately double down on the amount of profitable activity and decrease or stop anything that is not.
For example, if you are running a paid advertising campaign, see which adverts are getting the most results in terms of sales and leads. Then increase the amount you spend on these ads and reduce or stop altogether any ad that isn’t performing well.
The same applies to anything else you do in your business – be it blogging, video, email marketing, or anything else!
These steps have worked for many small businesses in general, though everyone’s got their quirks. Just remember to be creative with your marketing and don’t be afraid to do something unique. If it works, you’ll notice it.
Angela is a senior editor at Dreniq News. She has written for many famous news agencies.