One of the major tasks in any business is to know how to market your product or service, and this is the kind of thing that can take a lot of learning, and plenty of trial and error, to get right.
Marketing is often seen as a somewhat covert art, but the truth is that there are simple basic concepts which you can learn quite easily, and quite often sticking to the basics and getting them right will yield just as good results as doing the latest clever faddy trick. In this post, we are going to try and bring marketing out of the dark and break it into its component parts. You won’t learn everything here, but maybe you willl learn where you should go to research what you need in your business.
The first thing to get clear is what are you selling and to whom? If you are at the very begining of your business choosing what you want to do, then maybe you will start with a target market in mind (your friends perhaps) and pick your product offering as something that will appeal to them. Or if you have already chosen a product or service then you need to consider who exactly would be interested in buying that product at the price at which you are prepared to sell it.
A small amount of time analysing both the product/service and the target market will be very well spent, and will help you to choose the the media for marketing and the types of messages which will appeal.
First of all get clear in your head what exactly it is that you are promoting or selling? What are the unique selling points of your product – why would somebody want to buy that. Do you see your product as a luxury item, offering quality and comfort and a certain expertise, or is it a value product, offering people a bit of a bargain and a can’t be missed savings opportunity. What has your product got that its competitors do not have. What do the customers get for the fact that it is you selling or offering the product as opposed to anyone else?
Let’s say you have just qualified as a beauty therapist and you are going to start a business doing beauty. Here are some questions to narrow down your offering (and by definition your target market)
- Are you going to use a salon/your home or will you be mobile and go out to the customer?
- What are your signature treatments – the things that you like doing or that you are best at?
- What brand of products do you use? Are they expensive and luxury, or affordable?
- Do you have products for sensitive skin/vegans/ people wtih allergies. are the products natural/organic/fairtrade?
- Can you offer treatments for pregnancy/postnatal/ weddings/prom nights
The answers to these questions wil determine the prices you can charge and the sort of people you will appeal to
The Audience/Target Market
You then need to have a clear understanding of who the audience is. What type of person is likely to want your product at the price that you are prepared to sell it at? This requires a lot of research, and it’s one of those things which you can’t overlook if you are to get the marketing strategy right. To determine your audience, you need to pay attention to the demographics of your current and most loyal customers, along with the slice of society that you might like to branch out to next. It’s not just about knowing their details, however – you also need to be able to build up a picture of the kind of person you are going to be targeting.
Marketing without a target is a little like throwing paint at a wall and hoping something sticks. You might well be lucky – but then again, you might not. However when you have a specific target in mind, you can make it much more likely that your marketing efforts are going to land, and if nothing else that means that you are not going to be wasting your time and money. In order to develop an idea of your target market, you need to think about who your ideal customer is. Think of them as a character you are inventing for a story or movie. What is their behaviour? Why do they do the things they do? How much do they earn? How do they dress? What do they like to read and look at?
A lot of marketing teams hire psychological experts from time to time, and it’s not hard to see why this might be so useful. By understanding the inner workings of your ideal target market, you can make your marketing appeal to things within themselves they might not even be aware of, and make your product appear irresistible to them.
So now you know exactly what it is you are selling, who you are selling to and what your ideal customer needs, that you product will provide for them.
Now it is time to start designing the campaign, and there are many things to think about.
It helps to pay attention here to the branding for your business, as you are going to need the campaign to fall in line with that anyway. If you haven’t already, you should draw up a style guide with reference to your brand image. How are you trying to portray yourself and your product. What will your target market want to see. Are they looking for luxury and opulence, are they looking for something quick and cheap? Do they need you to look businesslike so they can trust you? Or are they interested in your green, eco-friendly credentials? Should your brand look young and funky, or mature and trustworthy?
Thinking about all of these things and designing your brand and marketing appropriately will certainly help to get your mesage across to the right people.
The next step is to decide which media you are going to use. Think back to your ideal customer – are they Facebook users, Snapcaht or Instagram users or a re they more of the old fashined print media generation? You need to place your marketing in the location where your ideal customer is likely to see it – which is one of the reasons why you spent time imagining who they are and what they do at the beginning of this process.
I have recently discovered that my ideal blog readers have moved over from Facebook, where they hung out a couple of years ago and now they are more likely to be found on Pinterest. So I have adjusted my own blog advertising accordingly, took a Pinterest course in early 2018, and suddenly I have rediscovered my readers again
As part of my Pinterest journey this year, I have also put together boards covering some of the other main social media channels, so if you need tips on markeitng in these areas, check out my Pinterest boards
I’m not an expert at any of these yet, but I know several people that are, and that is the joy of Pinterest, putting together a library of up to date useful information.
Another popular way of marketing is using email. This usually involves collecting people’s email addresses from a landing page on your site, and then sending them a series of informative messages, which will hopefully win their trust until eventually they make the decision to buy from you. For many busiesses, getting people to the start of the email funnel, is the main aim of their social media efforts and the email marketing is a natural follow on from this.
You do need to be exceptionally careful with email marketing nowadays though, because by definition you are collecting data about people. The new GDPR regulations that have recently come into force are very specific about how you should collect data, how you must store it and keep it secure, and what purposes you may use it for.
It’s too soon to say how highly regulated this is going to be, and what penalties will come to people who do not look after their client data carefully. Think of some of the companies that you do business with and to whom you have given your name, address, email address etc. You would be very unhappy if you heard that they had suffered a data breach and your personal information fell into the wrong hands. So, in the same way you need to be super careful if you are holding customer data or even prospects email addresses before they buy from you.
You can find out much more about data protectio and the new legislation at the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website, but if you do find that you are processing a lot of data and you want to be sure of its security, then you could also look into cyber security for businesses,
Letting It Fly
Once you have your marketing campaign fully designed and it’s ready to go, you need to just sit back and watch, and see how it lands. Then here is the final piece of the puzzle – for every campaign you send out you analyse it in detail, figure out what worked well, what didn’t go so well, and how you could improve it.
- Is your branding hitting the spot?
- Did you use images that appealed to your target market?
- Are you using the correct medium to get yor message across?
The key to effective marketing is a constant process of testing, tweaking and trying again, until you find what works for you. Even when you do find something that works, you may find if you continue using that over time that its effectiveness diminshes and you need to mix it up a bit.
Marketing can be frustrating and very difficult to pin down. But when it works and the folks come flocking to you, it is a very satisfying indeed.