That’s why we’ve put together this primer on marketing basics: Marketing 101 for small business owners. If you look past the fads and gimmicks and complicated marketing techniques, you’ll find that marketing is a science. And like any other science, the more you understand the basics, the easier it becomes.
Lesson 1: How to Detect Bad Advice
As business owners, we all want more customers—and the faster/easier/cheaper it is to acquire them, the better… right? Yes, of course. We can certainly agree on that.
But it’s important to realize there are no real shortcuts to customer acquisition. You need to put the work in & establish a systematic approach… that’s the only viable road to long term consistent success. So how do you spot the difference between a fad or gimmick & a legitimate tried-and-true marketing practice?
People tend to fall for bad marketing advice when they have misunderstandings, confusions or false information about what marketing is & how—& why—it should be done.
So, your best defense against making poor (& costly) marketing choices is to truly understand the basics of marketing… & then evaluate any new marketing advice you come across against this. If you do this, you will soon become adept at discerning which advice is worth considering—& which you should drop like a hot brick.
Lesson 2: What is Marketing?
Marketing isn’t just putting up a slick business website & waiting for sales to come pouring in. There’s a bit more to it. Some important points to keep in mind about marketing:
- Marketing is an ongoing process, not a one-time project.
- Promotion & marketing are not the same thing. Promotion is just one of many aspects of marketing (& usually one of the last steps of the marketing process).
- Marketing starts with product conception—determining the needs & wants of customers & then researching & developing products & services that excel at meeting those needs.
- Marketing involves pricing your products in the sweet spot where you maximize overall profits (balancing a low enough price to encourage enough volume of sales & a high enough price to keep profit margins good). Pricing also involves planning strategies such as offering coupons, discounts, etc. to fuel sales.
- Once you’ve developed your products & priced them strategically, you need to work out distribution channels—i.e. how are you going to make your products available & accessible to customers?
- Promotion can only be done effectively once you have researched & developed your products, priced them strategically to optimize cash flow & profits, & set up enough distribution channels. Without successfully completing the full marketing cycle, promotion is expensive & will fall flat.
Lesson 3: The 7 Customer-Building Basics
So, what is the fundamental basic process of successful marketing? High-volume sales, customer acquisition, and overall success results from:
- Offering a valuable product/service you can produce/execute uniformly & consistently.
- Identifying your target audience(s), potential consumers who will find value in your product/service.
- Making your products/services easily accessible, & actively asking for & closing sales.
- Finding cost-effective communication channels through which you can reach your target audience.
- Communicating well (& frequently) & building affinity with each target audience through the appropriate channels.
- Delivering the products, services, & benefits you’ve promised your consumers. Never promise what you can’t deliver. This is Business Integrity.
- Repeating & expanding the process.
That’s it—no smoke or mirrors necessary. These marketing basics apply both to online & offline marketing & promotion & are as applicable to the smallest mom-&-pop shop as they are to the largest multinational corporation. Apply your skills & talents as you learn the basics, honestly & fully follow these steps, & you will achieve success.
Lesson 4: Evaluate Your Own Marketing
If your business is currently struggling (or even if it’s doing well), review the definition of marketing & the basic marketing process to determine where you might improve your efficiency & effectiveness. Ask yourself questions such as…
- Have you developed products & services that meet a real need of your actual customers?
- Have you surveyed your customers (or just talked to them) to discover how they feel about your products & what you can improve?
- Can you make further improvements to your products to get them to the point where your customers feel they cannot live without them?
- Have you priced your products low enough to make them affordable to your target customers?
- Have you priced them high enough that you’re making enough profit on each sale to make it worthwhile?
- Do you have special pricing strategies (coupons, discounts, sales, etc.) in place to encourage people to buy your products consistently & repeatedly?
- Have you made your products easily accessible to customers?
- Are they available through multiple channels (e.g. in your store, on your website, through third-party distributors)?
- Are they always in stock when your customers want to buy them?
- Do you have a promotional plan in place?
- Are you promoting consistently & continually?
- Are you testing your promotion to find what works best?
- Are you reinforcing successful promotion & dropping/tweaking ineffective promotion?
- Are you investing enough into promotion to get your sales to the level you need in order to be viable?
These & other questions will help you evaluate your strengths as well as areas where you can improve. From there, you can build a strategic plan for taking your marketing to the next level.
Lesson 5: Utilizing the Web for Business
Most successful businesses maintain an online internet presence to help achieve their business goals. This includes…
- A business website showcasing the brand & promoting its products & services
- Ecommerce to sell products directly online
- Social media for public relations & communications
- & various other online channels.
At the heart of any successful online marketing is the business website. Building a successful business website can result in increased brand & product awareness, goodwill, sales & profits for a business. Many businesses struggle to get results from their website, simply because they don’t have a full grasp of the basics of how to provide an excellent user experience on their website.
You Can Do It—Make Your Marketing Awesome!
It’s not a quick fix; like running other aspects of your business, it requires skill & focus. But implementing these marketing basics is well worth the effort, resulting in long-term stability & success.
You want to learn more about advertising and marketing your business successfully? Check out the upcoming workshop on Marketing basics to be held March 23, 2019 in Rochester, PA. Register today to guarantee your seat. See YOU there!
We will have expert web designers and digital marketing professionals come and share their knowledge with you.