Marketing is one of the most, if not the most, important part of growing a business. No business can reach its full potential if marketing falls behind. Good marketing results to an expanded customer base, which results to increased sales, which results to higher profit and accelerated growth for a business. Though all businesses know it, in this competitive world, marketing has become a nightmare for many. However, when the basics are right, the problems melt away and a clear path opens up.
If you are starting a new business, this article will help you come up with a great marketing plan. If you have an existing business, just look through and see if you are missing something.
Here are the 9 steps to a good marketing strategy:
1. Have a Business:
You must have a proper business in order to market it. This is a dilemma noticed in many startups. Most people don’t want to start because they don’t know how to reach the customers. A lot of them also try marketing first before they even have the business. In other words, you are trying to see if there are customers even if you don’t have the product yet, so you are often confused what to do first. Well, have the business or the products first. “You cannot sell anything you do not have”.
If you are looking for tips on how to start your business, I would recommend reading my previous article “10 Steps on How to Develop a Business Properly” .
The previous article also discusses several marketing strategies, but this article will have an in-depth view only on marketing itself.
2. Set Your Demographic:
Demographic in marketing can mean a lot of things, but simply put, you must figure out what age, sex, profession, location or type of people would buy or benefit from your products and services. Without a clear demographic, you will only beat around bushes with negligible results. If you are marketing toys, your demographic is children, and if you are selling washing machines, your demographic is housewives and so on.
3. Know the Lifestyle:
Once you have set the demographic, it is crucial to know the lifestyles of the people in your demographic. This step is so important that you should spend some time and effort on this. Have a meeting with your business partners or employees on this matter. You may also seek professional help from a social physiologist who would give you a clear idea on how your potential customers think and feel day in and day out.
You may consider this a battle plan. Know your enemy’s strength and weaknesses, and you will win. I’m not really suggesting that your customers are your enemies, but you get the picture. People’s hearts and minds are like fortresses. No one wants to let you in, but you still need to figure out a way. You may have a toy store, so you must understand that children also like ice-creams. The same way, if you have an appliance business, you must know that housewives have to discuss this with their husbands and talk about their credit card payments before buying your washing machines. Knowing these small things will assist you in coming up with a sound marketing plan. In fact, Step 03 is so important that we will use it in our following steps.
4. Start Marketing:
Now that you are done with Step 03, let us enter the market. This means that you have to make your business visible to your demographic. Step 04 is the real marketing part and you must understand that this step is a continuous and evolving process. You will never be done with this. As long as the business exists, marketing must go on. This is a full time job that would require continuous and improved planning and execution. You can do it yourself or hire a specialist to do it. It is a very broad subject to talk about, so I have subdivided this step into several segments. If not all, at least one or several may be applicable for your business:
a. Advertisement: Your potential customers must see your products and services; therefore, advertisement is a powerful tool. Advertisements can be done through several media such as brochures, pamphlets, posters, TV, Radio, and of course, the Internet.
b. Demonstration: A demonstration of your products and services also works as a good advertisement. This is the reason why TV shopping channels dominated the markets in the 80’s all through the 21st and they are still reliable media today. As a matter of fact, it has become even more accessible through YouTube. Why not have your own channel and demonstrate how your product works? You may create a power point presentation on your products and services and show anyone using a laptop or a tablet.
c. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is such a powerful tool for marketing. Instead of going out and looking for your customers, let your customers find you by doing proper SEO work on your business website. I’ll not sugarcoat it but SEO needs a team of professionals and will take a minimum of 6 months to see results. This is a bit costly and time consuming but really worth doing.
d. Social Media Marketing: Internet has made it easy for us to reach millions without paying a big advertising firm top dollars. Creating a good Facebook ad and paying only a $100.00 can reach tens of thousands. It is also possible to choose your demographic on Facebook. You can choose age, sex, location and type of people that the ad will be shown to. Just remember that if you are selling washing machines and your demographic is housewives, they may not be looking only for washing machines. They may be interested in yoga, art classes and pottery as well. Remember your Step 03, and use it to tweak your ad on social media. Social media and blogs also provide backlinks to your site that helps your SEO.
e. Telemarketing: Telemarketing was, is and will be a good way to reach your customers. A good sales team on the phones can truly work magic. Nothing beats a warm and hearty human interaction with customers where the salesman can introduce and product and answer all questions without the customer having to browse through a website and find the right FAQ. You can hire a team of telemarketers in India or the Philippines at a very low cost.
f. Email Marketing: If you have an SEO team, they already know how to use a spamming software to send millions of mails with one click. You may buy one such software and do it yourself. Though the mails would most like end up on the spam folders, lots of people do check them out on a regular basis.
g. Door to Door Marketing: Old is gold. Door to door marketing still has its charms. Similar to telemarketing, this is a good old human interaction. This works well with local services in an area or a city. If you are selling appliances or office supplies, this is the way to go. Just remember Step 03 and guide the sales team accordingly. If you are selling washing machines, know that the wife may have to discuss that with her husband, so the sales team should not push for a sale on the first visit. They may ask for another meeting where they can bring a washing machine and demonstrate how easy to use it is. They may also offer a free day at the local spa, which will be discussed next in “Cooperative Marketing”. Door to Door marketing also works for local bakeries, restaurants, diners, spas, salons, bars and clubs. Leave a menu or list of services and prices at the doors or offices, and people will take notice of your business.
h. Cooperative Marketing: You may seek cooperation with another company, community service or social organization to show your products. Remember that kids like ice-creams as much as toys. If you are selling toys, shake hands with an ice-cream parlor where your toys can be displayed. You may have pictures of your toys printed on the ice-cream cups, but of course you must be willing to share the printing costs. You can also help the ice-cream parlor in the same way. If a kid buys $20 dollar worth of toy, he gets a free $2 dollar worth of ice-cream from that ice-cream parlor. If you are selling washing machines, shake hands with a yoga studio or a spa. Housewives would love to have their nails done for free. Cooperative marketing helps several businesses at the same time, and is very effective in reaching your customers.
5. Make the Processes Easy:
Think from the customer’s end and make the process as easy as you can. Create strategies and have proper personnel in place so that a customer can find your products, choose, order, pay and have the delivery in the easiest and quickest way possible. Simplicity is the best.
6. Make Your Business Accessible:
I get so annoyed browsing through some company websites where if you need help, they will direct you to an FAQ page. Then there are hundreds of useless questions and answers that you don’t need, and then if you are done browsing and haven’t found answers, you get directed to a form where you can submit your inquiries or possibly call a customer support agent and ask your question. Make your business accessible. Calling a Customer Support agent should be the first option. That’s the quickest way a customer can get an answer right away. It is good to have an FAQ page, but make sure customers can communicate with you quickly through phone, chat or text messaging.
7. Go with the Flow:
As I have mentioned earlier that marketing is a continuous and evolving process. You have to always adapt to the changing world. Many businesses fail for this reason alone. They hold on to the old ideas and refuse to change in an ever changing world. Since you can’t stop the change, go with the flow and be adaptive. New trends and technologies are to be taken advantage of. Internet and smartphones have made it easy for people to broadcast themselves. You really don’t need a recording contract from a big company to be a singer. You can just record a song by yourself and sell it on iTunes. The trend is that more people are being empowered individually nowadays. Use it as an opportunity.
Here is an interesting situation. A company selling hair products had a channel on YouTube that demonstrated their items on videos, but not many were viewing those videos so they took advantage of others. They found several hot girls who often posted pictures and had several hundred thousand followers each on Instagram. They paid the girls some money and provided them with some pictures. The girls agreed to post those pictures for their next 5 posts together with the company YouTube link on Instagram and bam. The company immediately had a million subscribers to their channel. It cost them a fraction of what they might have had to pay a professional advertising firm.
So, again, Step 03, know your customers and keep up with their trends and lifestyles and there will be hundreds of ways you can reach them.
8. Know Your Competitions and Be Different:
Yes, market is competitive. If you are to succeed in this game, you have got to be different. Why do I emphasize the word? Well, many would say that if you are to succeed, you have to be the best. If you are a big company and have the budget for it, yes, go for it and be the best. But if you are small and struggling, you have to be different. You should know what your rivals are doing and do certain things a little differently. Look at all the above mentioned steps and see where you can be different.
Let’s say that you have a diner in an office district. There are 10 offices and all of them have their own cafeteria where people usually have their lunch. You can have a few menus printed nicely and distribute throughout all the offices. Now let’s say that there is another diner that does the same thing. You can distribute your menus with free muffins, and you can mention in the menu that with every order of lunch, a muffin is free. It wouldn’t cost you that much if you order muffins in bulk from a bakery. You might have cleaner rest rooms or wash areas than your rival. Your tissue dispenser can be a little more convenient. You might have a different catsup dispenser. Your steak sauce can be different. You might want to play relaxing music at the diner because people at work are stressed. You may not notice the change instantly, but these small differences will send subliminal messages to the people and they would love to have a nice relaxing lunch at you diner rather than go to a crowded cafeteria in their office buildings.
9. Give Special Privileges to Your Own Employees:
This is marketing on its own. In my previous article, I discussed how important it is to take care of your employees. Give special privileges to your own employees, and you will not regret it. I often hang out at a bar, and I know the waiters and waitresses. When it’s their days off, what do they do? They bring their friends and hang out and drink at the same bar and why? All employees enjoy a 10% discount on all food and drinks that they order. What do you think their friends do when they want to hang out and drink? They bring more of their friends and hang out and drink at the same bar. The process is almost automatic.
These are the basic 9 steps for good marketing. I hope they help. Have a great business, and feel free to ask any specific question.