Many people dream of owning their own businesses and being the boss rather than the employee. But in order to be successful at whatever business venture you pursue, you have to understand how to market your company effectively in order to get your products and/or services in front of people to become a household name. Without the right marketing strategies in place, your business will falter, unable to generate enough of a buzz in a world that is overloaded with information and competition.
Once you learn the basic marketing strategies you should be implementing to get your business off the ground and going strong, it is even more important to actually put those theories and practices into action and analyze their results to determine if and when changes need to be made.
What Does Marketing Really Entail?
Marketing involves a lot more than just buying up some advertising space and waiting for the customers to find you. Although that may have worked to an extent in the past, in today’s digital age, it is far less effective. So before you waste your hard-earned profits on advertising space, you need to understand what marketing really entails.
Put simply, marketing requires that leaders within an organization learn about their potential and current customers. As a business owner, you have to know what your customers’ expectations and needs are so that you can cater your products or services to match those needs. And, in order to get to know your customer base, you have to do a lot of research, and this requires quite a bit of time and money.
Quantitative research involves the use of tools like surveys or questionnaires that directly ask consumers questions about themselves and what they are looking for in a product or service. Using this method, you can gather a lot of helpful information and tips that will help you steer your business in the right direction so that you can meet consumer needs before other companies do.
Qualitative research should also be employed, however, in order to get even deeper into the issues that affect consumers. Focus groups are a popular example of qualitative research because consumers get to voice their opinions openly in small groups while researchers listen carefully, take notes, and begin to anticipate the future needs of these individuals so that they can create even better products and services.
Market research is an in-depth field within business, and it takes some time to learn everything about it. However, if you own a business, it is important to at least have a firm understanding of the basics. If you would like to learn more about market research, enroll in this course to get started.
Marketing 101: The Marketing Mix, AKA The Four P’s
One of the most basic components of business marketing is known as the Four P’s, which stands for products, place, price, and promotion.
“Products” refers to the products or services you are offering to consumers in your target niche. By understanding your particular market’s needs through research, you can create products and services that provide the features, design, quality, packaging, and customer care that your buyers will appreciate.
“Place” refers to how you will get your products or services out to people. What distribution channels will you use? What location would be most appropriate for your company? Will you be using the Internet to sell your goods?
“Price” is, simply put, what you will charge your customers for what you are selling. When it comes to pricing your goods and services, you should get a high enough margin that will allow you to pay off all of your expenses and still generate a profit. Will you offer discounts and promotions? If so, when?
And, finally, “promotion” refers to how you will actively communicate your offerings to your customers. This is the area in which you will determine what methods you will use to reach your customers, convince them to make a purchase, and keep them coming back for more. Examples of promotion include direct marketing, advertising, sales promotion, and personal selling. This course on small business marketing basics is a great introduction to steps you can take to put your company on the map.
Marketing Your Business Using Today’s Technology
Today’s technology has made it both easier and harder to market your business. While it may be great to have myriad outlets that you can use to reach potential customers and stay in touch with your current consumer base as well, all of these options can also become overwhelming. Whereas marketers in the past had to deal with writing press releases for print publications and securing advertising spots on a few television networks or radio stations, today, marketers have a lot more competition to contend with because even small businesses can operate globally, thanks to the Internet. Social media websites, a slew of changing online marketing trends, and hundreds of new cable networks are also making it more difficult to keep up.
Making It Easier
Trying not to get overwhelmed as a business owner when it comes to marketing your goods and services is not an easy task. But understanding what steps you need to take to effectively market your company in the 21st century will help make the process easier. And if you hire the right marketing team to get the job done, you can rest assured that your brand will be well known and respected amongst individuals in your target niche.
1. Establish Clear Goals
Establishing clear goals is the first step in ensuring your marketing plan will be effective, streamlined, and less stressful to execute. Figure out what exactly your company really needs so that you can come up with steps to take to meet those goals. Don’t strive to keep up with what everyone else is doing and what other marketing professionals are using. Instead, come up with a customized plan that will work for your specific organization. For example, is your priority to get your brand in front of people so that they know you? Or do they already know about you but you can’t seem to generate sales? Understanding your needs as a company will help you find holes in your business and marketing plan and then fill them with creative ideas that will allow you to reach a larger audience of interested consumers ready to spend their money on you.
2. Be Willing to Test New Marketing Techniques
Startups pop up every single day with the intent of helping other businesses market themselves. And with the ever-expanding Internet and its many social media websites, there always seems to be a new way to advertise yourself. But not all of these latest incarnations of marketing strategy will actually have long-term value and effectiveness, so it’s important to differentiate between those that are worth testing and those that aren’t. Your marketing team may be too busy focusing on other strategies to keep up, and they are probably going to want to focus more on tried-and-true methods, such as those outlined in this blog post featuring online marketing tools. Therefore, hiring other staff members who can work with pilot programs to test new techniques is a good idea, as it will ensure you always remain on the cutting edge without sacrificing too much time and effort.
3. Build More than Just Awareness
In the past, it was enough to put out an advertisement to get people interested in your company and what it has to offer. You could create a compelling campaign, launch it, and wait for customers to arrive before nailing down the sale with an extra promotion or incentive. Today’s marketplace is far too competitive, though, for this to work. Most people who see ads on television or hear about a company from a friend will then perform an Internet search to learn more before making a purchase. Competitors can track these movements and use the information they gain to put themselves ahead of the game. Therefore, to keep consumers interested in your brand, you have to create an actual platform on which they can participate. Some companies, for example, use sites like Kickstarter to fund innovative new ideas, getting their consumers interested enough to donate money and then continue to interact with the company to see where their investment goes. It goes without saying that you need to have a strong social media presence as well that allows consumers to interact directly with your company and access information and promotions.
The ultimate goal of a good marketing strategy is to not only understand current consumer needs but to also anticipate future needs. Marketing research will help you determine what needs have to be met, while the strategies you implement will make your brand the first one people think of when they realize their needs have yet to be met. Take this course on marketing strategy to improve your current system of attracting and retaining customers and ensure long-term growth of your company.