You’re just starting a business and need more customers, right? So you probably should be doing some marketing. But maybe you’re not entirely sure just what that means. Do you advertise? Put on events? Send out press releases? Exhibit at trade shows? What does it really mean to market your business?
In the strictest sense of a definition for marketing, it is not a single action but a combination of steps your business takes to identify, attract and retain profitable customers. It includes everything from market research, advertising and packaging, to the clothes your employees wear, the smiles on their faces, your billing practices, customer service, thank you cards, email newsletters and dozens of other items.
In short, marketing is the very core of your business, so it’s important to position yourself properly before you set foot in the marketing arena.
For example, can you clearly identify what sets you apart from the competition - what differentiates you? It’s tough to market yourself without having this clear in your mind. Develop a simple sentence or two that defines what compelling advantage or value you offer and how it solves a problem and makes the customer’s life easier.
Be specific. Pinpoint the customer “pain” that your product or service will relieve and the results they will see from the product or service your business offers. Before you can effectively “market” yourself - create ads, brochures or mailings, for example - decide what type of expert problem solver you want to become.
Eight steps in your pre-marketing homework
- Build a detailed, trait-by-trait profile of your ideal prospect. When you create your marketing message, aim it at them.
- Make sure marketing initiatives are based on accurate information before you proceed. Test your ideas first.
- Look for ways to make the buying process easier for your customers. What roadblocks can you remove? Simplify everything; eliminate potential interruptions in the sales process and make decision-making as painless as possible for your customers.
- Put follow-up procedures in place before you begin. Selling is seldom a single-step process.
- List as many benefits as possible that you can offer. Then look for ways to incorporate them in your marketing message. Make sure your marketing showcases the special knowledge and expertise your business offers.
- Before taking your marketing message to the outside world, make sure your own employees grasp your objectives and marketing strategy. Get them involved and keep them informed.
- Think of marketing not as a cost, but as your business ace-in-the-hole. It gives you the edge when competitors slip in their own marketing efforts, and it keeps employees motivated when your name is always in the public eye.
- Set a pace that lets you market continuously. Customer memories are short, and they are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages and images daily. Your effort must be ongoing or people will quickly forget.
Match your marketing to your primary market. If it’s a local market, then that’s where your marketing focus should be. Broadly focused newspaper or radio advertising, for example, might be the wrong choice. Instead, consider marketing neighborhood-by-neighborhood, block-by-block, customer-by-customer.
Our Bottom Line
So what's a good definition for marketing - simply put, it's the very core of your business, so it’s important to position yourself properly before you set foot in the marketing arena. Keep in mind that marketing is not a single action but a combination of steps your business takes to identify, attract and retain profitable customers.