Focusing sufficient resources on marketing is critical for the success of any business. Unfortunately, small businesses often either dedicate too few resources to marketing or don’t spend their efforts on the right marketing efforts to achieve their goals. Yet, marketing is a critical part of any small business’s survival if you don’t implement an effective marketing strategy, your business isn’t likely to survive. Using resources such as Brand Total helps you run your marketing like a pro.
Marketing like a pro means understanding key concepts of marketing, building a sound strategy with your customer in mind, implementing that strategy effectively, and monitoring performance to optimize your returns, just as shown in the image above.
To get you started in marketing like a pro, here are some of our favorite tips.
Marketing like a pro
1. Build a customer-centric marketing strategy
Building a customer-centric marketing strategy involves both understanding your own, internal operations and the impact of your internal marketing decisions on performance, as well as a thorough, detailed analysis of the external environment within which you operate.
Internal factors include:
- Product –
- What products do you market?
- How does each product perform?
- What is your USP (unique selling proposition) for each product (ie. what makes customers WANT to buy your brand over your competition)?
- Are there new opportunities for marketing products either in terms of new markets for your existing products or new products to meet current customer needs?
- Price –
- Does the price you charge for each product create value for buyers while still generating a profit for your business?
- What is your break-even quantity for each product?
- Are you charging enough to return a profit or could you charge more based on your value?
- Can you use pricing decisions to help evaluate other marketing decisions?
- Promotion –
- What message do you send your target market? How well does your market translate that message?
- Where do you send the message? Are large numbers of your target market using that communication channel?
- Can you assess the performance of your messages to see how much you change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors among members of your target market?
- Distribution –
- Where are your products available? Is your market tuned to buy products in that channel?
- Is there conflict between your channel partners?
- Do you offer things like free shipping that match norms in your industry?
- How do you handle returns and repairs?
External factors include:
- Competition –
- Who is your direct competition? Indirect competition?
- How well do you perform against your competition?
- What strategies and tactics do they use to marketing their products?
- Economy –
- Is there a strong economy or a weak economy (ie. look at factors such as interest rates, GDP (gross domestic product), inflation?
- Consumer confidence level?
- Legal/ regulatory –
- What legislation and regulations impact your industry?
- Are there concerns over new legislation that might impact your marketing?
- Technology –
- Are there new, emerging technologies?
- Do new technologies offer opportunities for your products?
- Can you use technology to streamline your processes?
- Culture –
- Culture shifts constantly. What major changes in culture impact your marketing?
- Pay attention to changes in consumer influence. Are there new social platforms or changes to who uses existing platforms?
Often, you finish off the environmental scan with a SWOT analysis the brings together critical elements of your environmental scan to evaluate how the internal and external environments represent strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. Hence, a SWOT analysis guides your market planning.
Next, determine your goals for the next period, normally 12-months. You should develop SMART goals that are:
- specific — increase sales
- measurable -by 10%
- achievable — is this realistic?
- relevant — will this goal help you achieve success?
- timely — within the next 12-months
Armed with all this information and analysis, you’re now ready to build your market strategy for the next period. Detailed plans, along with a budget are important if you’re marketing like a pro.
2. Include digital marketing
An important part of marketing for any business is building an online presence and working to optimize your digital strategy. Digital marketing is not only a cost-effective marketing tool but builds on the increased growth of the online market and the desire for consumers to search and buy online.
As you can see from the image above, you need to help users find you online, even as a local business (Google My Business helps you do local marketing). Search also impacts mobile users as many folks start a search on a mobile device and, when looking for a local business location, mobile is key.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you reach prospective buyers is to create great, valuable, content on a consistent basis. SEO-optimized content includes important keywords relevant to your business and that reflect user search intent to help improve your rank in related searches, as users commonly click on links near the top of search results. If you can’t do this yourself, think about using a marketing service through outsourcing.
3. Social media
Social media is another source of digital marketing success. As you can see in the earlier image, social media sites have a big impact on consumers. Not only do consumers consult social media platforms for recommendations but social media greatly impacts attitudes about the brand, including purchase intention.
Using influencers, either by paying them or encouraging them using intrinsic forms of motivation, generates a high return on your marketing efforts. By definition, influencers can tap into large communities and are respected members of those communities. Influencers increase the reach of your message, act as a more objective source of information than the brand itself, and motivate purchase.
Another way to use social media is to share reviews. Many customers like to shop once they see positive reviews, while negative reviews can kill a purchase intention. Whether you have a new brand or business or an established one, reviews really matter if you want to do your marketing like a pro. Reviews help customers determine if a business is trustworthy, especially if your products gather plenty of honest reviews.
Encourage reviews on your website by making it easy for buyers to share their experiences, reminding them to leave a review by emailing them to request reviews, and share these positive reviews on your social platforms and email marketing efforts.
Eventually, you might face a bad review but don’t worry too much about this to the point where you eliminate options to review your product. Denigraters will find a way to share their displeasure and, by eliminating options to get complaints off their chests, you encourage these complaints to fester. It’s more about how you deal with negative feedback and react to them than actually receiving them. See them as an opportunity to improve your business.
4. Measure, adjust, optimize
Measuring results is the first step toward improving performance. Unless you know the ROI for your marketing efforts, you can’t spend your budget wisely or make improvements that boost performance.
One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the vast amount of performance detail available. Unlike traditional media that struggles to connect marketing actions with performance, digital marketing offers a ton of metrics to assess performance and help you optimize your performance.
All of these can help a small business to boost its results from a marketing campaign. They will work together and help you to see the results that you want, even help your business to stand out. Are there any other methods that you think would help? Share some of them in the comments below.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.