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Marketing 101

So often people use the word advertising interchangeably with marketing.  Let’s start off first by distinguishing these two words.  Advertising is only a small part of marketing. Although it can sometimes feel like a more productive form of marketing. It doesn’t nullify or make the other components of marketing any less important.  For a marketing strategy to be effective, each component should be considered equally to determine its role in your marketing plan and overall goals.

I’d like to take you through some basics before we get into the specifics.  If you are starting from scratch putting together a marketing strategy there is some very important groundwork to be laid.  First, on the agenda should be establishing a target market.  A target market could include thousands of people or even just a few.  It all depends on the product or service you provide.  The pitfall to establishing this market is you can sometimes cast too wide of a net.  It’s better to start small and then expand your audience. This gives you the opportunity to gain the credibility to make it easier to break into larger markets.

Secondly, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses both as a company and as an individual or team.  If you have a team that is great in person but struggles to pick up the phone to make a sales call you don’t want your marketing strategy to rely on a strong call effort. On the other hand, if you’ve got a speed dialing, fast talking, sales machine that freezes up when they come face to face with a potential consumer you don’t want to focus your marketing efforts on in-person business to business sales.

Now that you’ve established your target audience and how your team works best.  You now need to determine how your target audience gets their information.  If you have a new app that you are marketing to teens you aren’t going to use a snail mail campaign or a coupon in a Val-Pak to advertise your services because that’s not how Generation Z or Millenials get their information.  You would be posting on social media, blogging about it, or going directly to the schools to get the word out.  If you are selling AARP memberships though you would find much less success in using social media than you might see in sending a postcard or a discounted membership in a coupon mailer.

Your next step is customer relations.  You’ve started establishing a customer base but this will do you no good if they are dissatisfied or forgotten about. Again, assess how your customer base likes to receive information. Make sure you have consistent procedures in place to request feedback, offer promotions, and even establish a customer loyalty program.  Customer loyalty programs are one of the most efficient ways to increase repeat business.

One of the key components to marketing that is often missed or mislabeled is product research and pricing.  It’s important to know what the rest of the market is doing and how your product can be differentiated. You may find that the value it adds to the current market is discounted pricing, superior service,  or innovative technology.

With such a high level of competition in most markets, one distinguishing factor of a company tends to be whether or not they are socially responsible.  So don’t forget to pick a cause to be a part of or make sure you are present at community events.  People will often pay a higher price when they are local or connected to a worthy cause.  If you have both of these things going for you then you should be GOLDEN!

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