Marketing isn’t solely the literature you put out into the ether.

  1. It is in the way your staff answer the phones, the way they write emails and deal with customers.
  2. It is the tone of voice in the company blog.
  3. The way the company is perceived on social media.
  4. It’s the staff who stand on the stall at events.
  5. It’s the feedback on twitter.
  6. It’s a customer telling her friend about your company, for good or bad reasons.

Marketing is essentially getting people to know you, to talk about you; it’s getting consumers interested in what it you must sell.

According to Dictionary.com, the actual definition of marketing is:

‘The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research or advertising’.

Marketing is that awkward middle ground between advertising and sales. It takes place throughout the whole lifecycle of a business: from beginning to end. It’s there in the initial product development and it continues through distribution, advertising and sales.

The beginning? You ask. How on earth can marketing influence the inception of a product?

Because what you or your company produce has to be what a consumer wants to buy. And how do you know what they want to buy if you don’t do any marketing research to find out?

And in the middle of operations? Well, how do you know how customers are reacting to your product if you don’t ask them?

Marketing research

Ways to conduct marketing research:

  1. Focus groups
  2. Surveys
  3. Questionnaires.
  4. Interviews

The answers you glean from your marketing research should help enlighten you as to your ideal customer’s wants and needs. You can then figure out who these dream consumers are and where the best places to snare them are.

Marketing research will subsequently lead you onto the creation of a business plan.

It will contain your business’ aims and objectives and an ‘at a glance’ document that all of your staff know, understand and adhere to when it comes to marketing the business.

In this business plan will be your marketing strategy, the fuel for your business’s growth: it’s how you plan to find and attract clients to your business.

Marketing strategies

To understand how to market your business, you have to know what you have in your arsenal to play with. Depending on your budget you could have:

  1. Paid advertising
  2. PPC
  3. Website
  4. Blog
  5. Newsletter
  6. E-books
  7. Videos
  8. Corporate guides
  9. Customer testimonials
  10. Your team
  11. Influencers
  12. Trade shows
  13. Social media
  14. SEO
  15. Relationship building
  16. Word of mouth
  17. Transactional

The list goes on. But how do you know which marketing strategy is the best one for you? How do you get your message to the right people so that they can hear it?

Create an action plan:

  1. What you need to do to attract more customers i.e run an email campaign. Be specific, have real numbers with real deadlines. Say who, what, where, when and why. Keep it achievable.
  2. Establish a timeline for this action: start, middle/review and end.
  3. Assign who is responsible for what task.
  4. Cost of implementing the action.
  5. Establish measurable projected outcomes i.e 50 new customers, new partnerships, 20 new stockists. Know how you will track and evaluate your achievements.

How many actions you want to have is up to you and what you can realistically achieve.

Building the best marketing strategy to win customers

Each business is unique and what works for one company may not work for another. The combination of marketing strategies that you choose for your company will ultimately come down to the type of business you have, your target audience and your budget.

Whatever approach or approaches you decide to take, remember:

  1. Listen to your customers. Your customers are the key to your business’ success, so don’t ignore them and don’t assume you know what they want. Listen to them on social media, listen to their feedback: what they like, don’t like, how they feel.
  2. Don’t ignore the competition. But don’t copy them tactic for tactic either.
  3. Don’t try and compete on price alone. There is always someone who can do it cheaper.
  4. Don’t try and grow too fast. You have to walk before you can run.
  5. Don’t put your eggs in one basket and rely on a small customer base to keep you going. Always be trying to grow. Always.
  6. Never become complacent because something is working for you now. Innovate. Keep it fresh.
  7. Don’t use content for one marketing strategy in all your strategies. What works online may not translate to hard copy. What appeals to millennials may not interest an older generation.