Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Regardless of all the details, the bottom line as a business owner you are selling something – either a product, a service or a combination of the two. You need to know how to encourage people to want to buy that product or use that service.
Marketing begins with the ideation of a product or service and ends with its deliverance into the customers’ hands. The middle is where the basic building blocks of marketing are important.
Marketing As A Process: One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is that they take marketing to be a one-time solution. Or, a project which delivers a certain result. Looking around the Internet at much of the free advice, you would be forgiven for thinking that marketing is doling out advertising. The fact is, there is so much more to marketing, and to understand that fully we need to look at the entire process of marketing – for that is what it is.
Marketing is an ongoing process which your business is constantly improving at, and which it can never do without. You do not finish one marketing project and then wait and move on to the next. It is fluid, continual – you might have different projects, but they flow together as distinct yet inseparable parts. If you want your business’ marketing to be more effective, take a look at how your business approaches marketing in the first place is it a long-term plan or a series of disjointed one time plans?
Determining The Needs Of Customers: The first responsibility of the marketer is to determine the needs and wants of your business’ customers. It is only by determining their needs that you can expect to know how best to please them. Though it might seem complex – and it can take a great deal of time and effort – determining the needs of your customers is quite simple in practice. Ultimately, it is a matter of asking them what they think. Asking your customers’ opinions is one of the most powerful marketing strategies: ask them what they want, and then you know what to deliver.
Meeting Those Needs: Determining the needs of your customers might be straightforward, but after that is something which is harder. This is where the process of marketing begins to take on more creative dimensions. Now that you know what it is that your customers want, you need to figure out how to give it to them if appropriate. The golden rule here is that to deliver to your customer what they want, you need to pay attention to how they say it. All of the information you need is buried in what the customer says to you, so pay attention. It is then just a matter of applying some creativity to the problem. With some time, you should be able to come up with a solution which solves your customers’ problem. This solution is the product or service itself, so it is clear that this is one part of the marketing process which needs to be given a good deal of time.
Targeting: You will have developed a product or service idea based on the needs of your customers. With any luck, this is something which many of your customers mentioned. The more popular the problem, after all, the more likely it is that the product will also be popular. However, it is extremely unlikely that absolutely everyone will be immediately on board. Besides, you want to start thinking about making your new solution appeal to the wider audience. This is where the process of targeting must begin. Targeting is identifying a target customer, and thereafter bearing them in mind when you follow the rest of the marketing process. As long as you are thinking about your target customer throughout the process, you know that you will end up with something which is going to sell. A marketable product is only marketable if there is a definite demographic to market it to. Targeting can either be quite specific, or it can be broad. It really doesn’t matter – the main point of targeting as a concept is that it gives you a focus of some kind or another. You will find this hugely beneficial as you continue along the process towards creating the product and putting it on sale.
Communication Channels: It is often at this point that you need to start thinking about communication channels. There are all sorts of ways of communicating with the general public and your potential customers. The truth is, these days you want to go through as many of those channels as possible. One particularly popular channel in recent years is digital. Digital marketing is now completely unavoidable if you want your business to thrive, so you need to ensure you are on top of it. It is a good idea to invest in some training from Simplilearn or a similar provider, as this will help your marketing staff greatly. These days, getting the digital side of marketing right is essential. Of course, there are also the traditional routes to consider, and you should be using those as well. The wider you cast your net, the more likely it is that you will get something in return.
Communicating Well: Being able to communicate well with your customers is the sign of strong marketing. In a way, the essence of your marketing is its ability to relate to the target demographic in a way which does not pander to them. Finding this perfect balance is considerably easier said than done. However, it is essential if you want people to really get on board with your new product or service. A lot of work needs to go into this part of the process, as this is what the customer actually sees first hand. Make sure that your business is presenting itself in the right light. Also, ensure that you are showing your customers and potential customers respect.
Repeating and Improving The Process: As we discussed earlier, marketing is an ongoing process and not a standalone project. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than towards the end of any particular cycle of marketing. This is a much better way of looking at your marketing attempts – as cycles. After each cycle, you have the opportunity to take a look at the entire process and see what went well. Much more important, however, is what did not go so well. This is where you learn how to improve your strategies, so you need to pay attention to these parts. Once you think you have analyzed it for all it’s worth, you can then continue on into the next cycle. Take with you everything that you have learned, and apply it as well as you can. You should find that the next time around is even more beneficial to your business.