Marketing is more than advertising. Marketing is, literally, about what you need to do to take your goods or services to market.
It looks at how you can make your products better. How to ensure you’ve got the price right. The importance of where you’re selling your products. And what you say (that’s the advertising part).
Developing your marketing strategy
There are four broad areas you need to consider.
- Who are my customers?
- How do I talk to them?
- Am I spending my money in the right way?
- What do my customers want? (and how does my product answer that need?)
The following points will help you answer those questions. They are separated into seven steps.
You don’t need to know the answer to all the questions. But time spent on each of these can help you fine-tune what you’re offering. And bring you more success.
1. Know your customers
If you understand your customers needs, your marketing will be all the more effective.
Consider the following questions: –
• Who are your customers? (Age range, gender, income, etc.)
• How often do they buy your products or services?
• What makes your customers want to buy your products or services?
• Is it a rational decision? Or are they choosing because they just feel better about your product than a competitor’s?
• What is more important when choosing your products or services? Are they price driven? Do they choose you for your service? Are you the most convenient? The safest?
• Who are your customers buying for?
• Are your customers also dealing with your competitors?
• What types of media do your customers use? Do they read newspapers? Or do they get their news from the web? Is an outdoor poster the best way to get your message across?
2. Know what you want to achieve
Before you start anything, understand what you want your customers to do. This applies especially for advertising. You’re about to invest time and money into something – by understanding what you want to happen, you’re better able to put your energy to best use.
Are you: –
• Launching a new product?
• Opening new premises?
• Promoting a special offer?
• Attracting new customers?
• Reconnecting with existing customers?
• Decide how you will measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
• Can you track enquiries directed from the advertisement?
• Does your offer require the customer to bring in a coupon?
• Is the measure as broad as clicks on a website? Or as targeted as direct enquiries to a sales manager?
3. What’s in it for them?
Be clear. Don’t make your customers work to understand your advertisement. Explain how your product helps make their life easier, or better. How it helps them do something faster. How it makes them smarter or richer or gives them more time to spend with their family.
Make it easy for them to find the name of your business, and what you’re selling. Don’t baffle them with words. Use plain English. Try to avoid using jargon that your customers may not understand.
Include a call to action, such as a contact telephone number or website address.
4. Choose the right place to say it.
There are lots and lots of ways to get your message across.
Each one can work. It all depends on what is the best way to talk to the people you need to convince.
This includes trade journals, television, radio, outdoor billboards, newspapers and magazines. These are good for reaching a lot of people with a general message.
Good for getting a more specific response from a more specific market. Use mail to send advertising circulars or other printed matter directly to new and existing customers.
Place advertisements in local directories
Local directories or the Yellow Pages helps you stand out when people need a number to call.
Develop a company website
If your customers are searching online, a website gives you another chance to convince them to prefer your product.
Your business, car and clothes can all carry a message.
Brochures can be used in a variety of ways including direct mail and letterbox drops.
Many purchase decisions are made at point of sale. Good promotional material can change minds where it matters most.
Trade shows / Exhibitions
Set-up a stall at trade shows and exhibitions. It gives you a chance to talk to your customers face-to-face.
Telemarketing can work. If it’s right for your customers. Make sure the benefit of the offer is clear right at the beginning of the conversation.
Sales promotions encourage customers by offering an additional benefit or the chance to win a prize. If a promotion is in the form of a competition customers need to believe they have a chance to win, otherwise they may not take part. Consider promotions with a direct tangible benefit, such as “every fifth coffee free”, this may win you repeat business. Be sure to review whether you require permits. Every state in Australia has a different set of rules and requirements.
Public relations (PR)
Public relations are the most cost-effective way to promote your business, products or services. A simple (and free) form of public relations is a media release sent to your local news publication, corporate newsletters or relating industry websites. A few well-written words and a bit of follow-up work could reap big rewards. Remember, the key to PR is having a story to tell.
Get involved in your local community. Look out for sponsorship opportunities that reach your target market and generate loyalty.
5. Keep it simple.
However you choose to get your message across, keep your message simple and to the point. Potential customers will be exposed to countless messages every day, so make sure yours is easy to remember.
6. Consistency matters.
A good way to build a good reputation is to ensure you look the same and sound the same whenever you advertise. So, no matter what your message is, your customers will learn to recognize your messages. This can be as simple as using your business colours or a slogan on your business cards or point-of-sale items.
7. Evaluate your marketing success
Find out what works. And what doesn’t.
Try to make it measurable. The most basic measure of success is increased profits. You can also measure rates of enquiry, sales and profits during the periods you advertise or while you are running promotions.
If sales do not pick up as expected, it may be worth rethinking your marketing strategy. It could be that you have not reached your target market, or your offer was not compelling enough.
One of the simplest ways to find out what’s working is to ask your customers. Where did they find out about your business?