Running a business means being responsible for lots of different things. Some of these things you can delegate to others. The one thing you should strive to understand and take control of is your marketing.
Most business owners I work with don’t think about marketing as their key to growth. They think about how good they are at providing their product or service. This is important but only once your customer knows who you are. If they don’t know you, your marketing has to convince them of your talent before your competition does.
Marketing can be very costly, time consuming and difficult to understand. But at its core, marketing is fairly simple. Its primary purpose is to communicate a message to a chosen group of individuals or organizations. Think of it as a language that will be understood by some and dismissed by others.
Here’s what will make you better at marketing
You don’t have to master the concept of marketing but you do need to understand it well enough to create a strategy that works for your particular business. Here’s how to create that strategy.
Marketing has 3 essential parts: your target audience, your unique offering and your message.
Why is this important?
Its way to costly to try and reach a broad audience. Narrowly focusing your attention on a specific group of customers is a better way to connect, educate and invite them to check you out. This is a great example of, ‘less is more’!
Why this is important?
Customers need a point of difference in order to make a buying choice. When a number of businesses in a particular category all look the same, customers will default to price as the tie breaker. In most cases price is not the primary reason people seek products and services. They will however go there if they see no discernible difference.
Your message, which may contain a ‘call-to-action’, must align with who you are as a business. If you offer something highly specialized, offering a discount right from the start may confuse people. Be sure that what you offer supports what you say. Otherwise, you will attract customers for the wrong reasons.
Why is this important?
People tend to buy things to solve problems. If what you offer does not solve a real or perceived problem, your customers will lack the motivation to decide. People will spend 10 times as much effort to solve a problem as they will to seek something pleasurable. If your message means something to them, you are conveying an understanding of what is most important to them.
It’s all about knowing what people want and will listen to
This marketing formula is used by businesses big and small. Next time you are watching TV or listening to the radio, listen for the message and try to determine who you think the business is targeting. If the message or the entire commercial means nothing to you, you are not the customer they want!
A good way to learn what people like and dislike about your category of business is to read reviews. There are any number of sites that host industry specific reviews. Be sure to read as many as you can. The lower rated reviews tend to have better details about what a customer disliked. And though many reviews these days a questionable in terms of credible sources, taken in quantity you will learn what people think of your industry. Then, make sure you add or avoid the things they talk about.
A better way to learn what is important to people who buy your product or service is to talk to your own customers. The simple ‘how did you like our service’ with a 1 to 5 rating is pretty useless. Take the time to ask better questions and you’ll learn a ton that will bolster your marketing efforts.
Don’t make big investments in marketing until you get this right
Once you have created this simple process and fine-tuned it to where the message really speaks to your intended audience, then you are ready to market it with any number of approaches for getting the word out. Until then, jumping right to the internet or some expensive media outlets is a sure way to waste time and money.
Marketing at its core is a simple process. Stay focused on your target, your unique quality and your message and you will generate the revenue and clients you want.
About the Author
After a stellar 29 year career in the consumer products manufacturing industry, Steve Smith converted his knowledge and experience into a successful business and executive coaching company. In 2008, he opened GrowthSource Coaching in Orange County, CA