It can be hard to pin down an exact definition of marketing, but people generally think of it as the promotional aspect of their business. In reality, marketing is much more than just a promotional technique or strategy – it is a link between you and your customers!
Marketing is the blend of sales and customer service, because it shows you understand your consumers' wants, needs, and desires. It is a necessary part of any business, and most businesses would not have the success they enjoy today without marketing. As an emerging company or a small business, it is vital for you to learn and apply the basics of marketing in your business strategy.
Develop Your Strategy
There are several components to a strong marketing strategy that will take your business to new heights – setting goals, creating a plan, and assessing your progress on a set schedule. However, before you can begin, you need to gain a comprehensive knowledge of your ideal potential customer, also known as a “buyer persona” or customer avatar.
What is a Customer Avatar?
Your customer avatar is an ideal buyer – the person most likely to buy your product or service. They have a problem or set of problems that can be solved by your company, and therefore they can be convinced to buy your product. It is the person who perfectly fits and exemplifies your target audience. A customer avatar is essentially an imagined identity that depicts the demographics of your target customer. It is a profile that compiles all of the information about a particular type of potential customer.
When creating an avatar, you want to outline what the potential customer wants, needs, desires, and hopes for. By accomplishing this, you can tailor your marketing and advertising efforts to focus on the group best suited for your business, instead of wasting time and money on people that have no need or want for your product or service. To get started crafting your customer avatar, ask yourself these questions:
- What problems does our product or service solve?
- Who needs these problems solved?
- What stage in their life are they in? Are they married? Do they have children? Are they in college?
- What social networks do people in this demographic generally use most?
- What would keep them from making the purchase? How do we overcome this roadblock?
Once you have your answers, compare and contrast with your coworkers and do further research to develop a more comprehensive picture of who your target audience should be. Check out this post for an in-depth guide to creating a customer avatar for your business.
Setting a Goal
Now that you have an outline or general idea of who your target audience is, you can set a goal for your marketing strategy. Think long term and measurable. If your goal is vague, instead of specific and quantifiable, knowing whether or not you are on the right path will be nearly impossible. Using quantifiable data will allow you to see which marketing practices are working best to achieve your goals, and allow you to refine them. A good example would be: "Over the next year, Company XYZ will double personal training clients" or “XYZ will increase customer engagements by 10% during this quarter.”
Make a Step-By-Step Plan
Your marketing plan is the step-by-step guide directing your company, much like how GPS systems map out the route to your destination. Whatever your goal is, you can use specific tools within your marketing plan to map out how to get there. You can create plans to beef up your online presence, gain more profits, generate leads, increase customer engagement, and so many more. Create your plan around what you want to achieve for your company and make sure you know what you’re going to do every step along the way.
A great way to start is by creating an online presence and creating brand awareness. In the beginning, you’ll be targeting all cold traffic (people who don’t know who you are as a company), so it is a good idea to create a strong online presence.
Tools to Optimize Your Online Presence
- Social Media: With free accounts and exposure to the masses, social media is the way to go. Just in the United States, you'll find that 77% of the population has at least one social media profile, with many using multiple different platforms. Using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote your business can expand your consumer base and give you more information to further develop your customer avatar, making your business even more effective in the long run.
- Business Website: Creating and maintaining a responsive business website is essential for marketing in 2019 and beyond. More people than ever are using the internet to shop and searching for services in their area, making business websites a necessity – not an option. According to TechCrunch.com, "79 percent of U.S. consumers…shop on the web or their phones, up from just 22 percent back in 2000." With nearly 80% of the U.S. population using the internet to research and buy products, creating your own website should be a top priority.
- Blogging for SEO: Blogs used to be extremely personal pieces of literature, almost like a diary. Now, businesses are taking advantage of blogging as a way to increase their rank on search engine sites like Google through using specific words (SEO keywords). With a business blog, the message isn't so much about personal experience, but more about solving the problems of your potential customers through advice and content that has value to them. Once your website has been created, it’s a good idea to create a blog and start distributing valuable content.
No matter what tools you use, keeping your messages consistent with your business's brand is a must. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of the who, what, where, and when (who the post is for; what the post is; where it is posted; when it was posted) for each post. The message isn't all that matters, however. Your followers on your website or social media profiles also want to see posts from you on a regular basis. If your company is running a sale, or you participated in a non-profit fundraiser, it’s okay to spread the word! Let your customers know about what is happening with your company and employees to build trust with them. With marketing, showcasing the achievements and philanthropy of your business is a great way to spread the word about your company in a positive light.
Quantify, Assess, Plan, Repeat
Each month or quarter, it's important to set aside time to review the performance of your marketing strategy. Create a set schedule, that way you know when to compile and assess all of your data. Identify what aspects worked or didn't work for your company. By setting up checkpoints or short term goals along the way, you'll be able to keep your company on track and continue growing your sales.
It can be frustrating to start a business and realize you now have to worry about marketing your product or service! Luckily, marketing doesn't have to be complicated. With a bit of time, planning, research, and creativity, your business can grow into a well-oiled machine. If you find that you don't have much time left for marketing, contact us. We'll help you build momentum and achieve your business goals so you can focus on the bigger decisions.