Many years ago marketing was a well defined field of study with a well documented marketing process. Today, all of this has changed and marketing has evolved beyond the traditional segmentation, targeting and positioning focus that you could read in a marketing book. It’s also much more complex than understanding the buying process and the 4P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion).
This article will simplify and explain what marketing is and why marketing is important. We will also look at the types of marketing that exist, which you can use to grow your business and get more clients. Then we’ll explain what a marketing mix is to help you determine how to spend your marketing budget. Finally, we’ll give you some ideas around strategic marketing thinking to help you understand not only what marketing is, but also how can you put it to action in your own business to develop your sales & marketing funnel.
Definition of Marketing
If you look for the definition of marketing in Google, you will find: “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.” (source:Google.com). Wikipedia will tell you that “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service”. When thinking about online marketing in a more actionable way, we like to think in terms of:
- Reaching people and telling them your message. What is it about your product, service or industry that will benefit your customer? Every time you write an article for your website or blog or send an email, every time you pick up the phone to have a conversation and every time you’re posting to social media – that’s marketing.
- Engagement Once you have reached your customers through different channels it’s important to go beyond selling. Engagement is derived from adding value, educating, giving them reasons to like, comment, share, and respond to what you’re sharing with them. Finally, empowering prospective customers to share with their own network and refer you to others is also a type of engagement and that’s marketing.
- Lead Conversion This is where you capitalize on your investment of time and resources by offering all the people you’ve reached and all the people you’ve engaged with, a way to convert from an unknown visitor into a known lead – that’s marketing.
Marketing is about building a relationship with everyone who could be interested in your business.
Why is Marketing Important?
Marketing is important because this is the way you’re able to let the world know about you, your business, your products and your services. You’re giving all the people who are interested in you, a way to learn about your product or service and more importantly you’re helping them understand if it’s the right product or service for them. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest product or service in the world if nobody knows about it! Marketing is how you attract more customers and grow your business!
Types of Marketing
There are many types of marketing out there and we will cover some of the basic ways in which you can market your business to reach more customers, build your audience, get more web visits and improve your engagement and conversion.
In the digital world content is king. This is the way most people will find your website and learn about your business. It’s a great way to inform your prospective customers and answer questions they might have about your products or services. Remember that search engines will give you a lot of credit for relevant content and keeping an updated blog is key for your SEO strategy.
As you build up a contact list of prospective and existing customers, it’s important to use email to communicate and stay top of mind. The ideal frequency of your newsletters and emails differs depending on your industry and your audience, but just like with content – it’s all about relevant and interesting information. If you’re ready to send an email campaign, know the 10 golden rules for email marketing.
Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail marketing refers to the physical letters, postcards and flyers that you would distribute or send out to your lists. Even though a lot of your marketing might have shifted to the online world, don’t forget that some of your customers still like to receive a well thought out message in their mailbox. Direct mail marketing can be especially useful for local businesses, where your prospective customers know who you are and where you’re located. Learn how to track the effectiveness of your direct marketing efforts.
Online marketing can take many shapes and forms, but by far the most common type of paid advertising is Google Adwords; these are the sponsored links that you see at the top and side when you search for something in Google. Adwords Express offers a simple to setup solution for small budgets or you can try it on your own. At ThriveHive we recommend talking to a marketing expert to help you manage your marketing budget.
Social Media Marketing
Social networks have become an incredibly important part of any marketing mix. Facebook now has more than one billion users and continues to grow year over year. Social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest can be great for engaging with your customers. They provide a way to have a conversation and empower your advocates to interact with you and share your news with their circles. Figure out which social network is right for you and start engaging with your audience.
The number of smartphones and tablets in the world has exploded and chances are many of your customers will find you through their phones. Having a mobile optimized website is a must for business owners and making sure your local directories and review sites (like Yelp) up to date as well as your foursquare account correctly set up can help you attract more customers.
What is the Marketing Mix?
Don’t lose sleep over marketing terminology and jargon. If you’re curious, this term comes from idea of using different marketing tactics to drive people down the sales and marketing funnel. It’s usually associated with doing different activities that will directly impact the product, price, promotion and place for your product or service. When you tweak these variables, for example price, you’re effectively changing your marketing mix. Marketers come up with their own combination (or recipe) to communicate the value proposition of their product. As a small business owner, what marketing mix means to you is:
- Price: set the right price (if you compete on price, then it will be low, if you compete by differentiating your offering based on value it can be higher depending on how much your customers are willing to pay for your service).
- Promotion: make sure to use your resources effectively to reach your audience and tell them about your business. Remember that in the end it must be about the benefits of what you’re selling – read your message from their perspective as customers not your own perspective.
- Product: always at the center of a business is a great product, service or experience. Ensuring that you’re offering something that your customers actually want is key. You must solve their pain and more importantly, every time you must deliver an amazing experience and go beyond expectations to wow your customers.
- Place: every product or service must be distributed to get it to your prospective customers. In the case of physical products this can be distribution channels and sales outlets. For services, it means your business location or if you work directly at your customers’ location then it’s where you deliver your product or service.
Strategic Marketing Take-Aways
- Marketing is about building relationships and it includes every aspect of your communications with your prospective and current customers.
- Add value in every interaction, offer amazing content, provide a wow experience and empower your customers to be your advocates.
- To attract more customers think of Reach, Engagement and Conversion.
- Determine the right types of marketing to promote your business.
- Don’t over-think the marketing mix and remember to offer a great product or service and communicate your value to your audience.
image credit: Focx Photography