- What Is Marketing?
- Importance of Marketing in Business
- Branding: The Foundation of Your Marketing Strategy
- Types of Marketing Strategies to Consider for Your Business
- Implementing Different Types of Marketing Strategies
For business owners, effective marketing is the key to attracting prospects and converting them into customers. What marketing strategies are you currently using to find and connect with your target audience? Do you ever feel like you’re running out of compelling marketing ideas?
Starting with the foundation of creating a powerful business identity, this information will help you strengthen your branding and amplify both offline and online marketing strategies. You’ll discover a variety of different marketing techniques you can implement to build brand awareness and increase sales.
What Is Marketing?
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Marketing is the process of promoting a business or brand’s products or services to a target audience. Marketing focuses on analyzing target customer markets and developing strategies that get a business’s offerings in front of the right audience. Therefore, marketing is an important tool in building connections between businesses and consumers. Prospects who relate to a company’s marketing material are more likely to respond to their advertising methods.
Yet marketing involves much more than advertising, promotion, and generating sales. Marketing includes the delivery of products and services, all aspects of customer support, and virtually any interaction prospects, clients, or customers have with your business and brand. Fundamentally, marketing encompasses the entire relationship between your business and the public.
Importance of Marketing in Business
Essentially, marketing is what drives customers to your brand. Without it, your prospects aren’t aware of your products or services, and without reaching your ideal customers you’re likely missing opportunities to generate revenue. Here are several reasons why your marketing avenues are important to your business enterprise:
- Offers your company the opportunity to share your brand’s vision, mission, and values.
- Improves customer relationship marketing based on marketing data analysis.
- Motivates and inspires audiences to share your products or services.
- Supports the achievement of quantitative goals with qualitative outcomes such as awareness, trust, authority, and engagement.
- Provides the ability to apply market segmentation to reach a highly individualized customer base through analysis and research.
- Ensures your company stays relevant and connected to your customer base.
Branding: The Foundation of Your Marketing Strategy
Your brand creates your business’s unique persona and differentiates your business, products, and services from all the others in the marketplace. Your marketing strategy is built on the foundation of your brand identity, since successful marketing depends upon effective branding. A brand is one of the most valuable intangible assets of a business. Taking the time to create a powerful brand can enhance your marketing activities and increase the profitability of your business.
Some key elements of branding are:
- Vision and mission: The “why” of your business. What is your business’s purpose for existing? How will it improve the lives of your clients or customers? What are the goals of your business?
- Core values & beliefs: What are the fundamental tenets of your business? What distinguishes your company? By what principles does it abide?
- Brand/business name: A unique and compelling business name will be meaningful to your customers. While the word amazon has no correlation to Amazon’s business, the name is a daily part of many people’s lives.
- Logo: A unique logo will set your brand apart in the marketplace and make it more memorable.
- Visual brand elements: Colors, fonts, graphics, and any other visual elements of a brand. When used effectively, a simple image becomes an icon and represents a brand. The Nike swoosh, the Target target, and Apple’s bitten-into apple illustrate the power of compelling brand images.
- Tagline, slogan, or jingle: Create a simple tagline relevant to your audience or your product. Phone numbers set to music can linger for years in the thoughts of your target audience.
- Keywords or personality: What emotions do you want your brand to invoke? This helps develop the personality of your brand and creates an emotional connection with your customers.
- Target market: Who is the ideal client of your business? Who do you serve?
- USP (Unique selling proposition): Your USP highlights the specific points of differentiation and superiority of your brand, service, or product.
- Brand stories: Brand stories, such as the brand’s origin story or a customer’s significant testimonial, are powerful tools capable of creating a strong emotional connection with customers.
- Consistency: Consistency over time and across platforms is necessary to establish a memorable brand.
Types of Marketing Strategies To Consider for Your Business
How do you get your business’s message in front of prospects, inform them of your business, and convert them into customers? We are going to explore many marketing strategies for you to consider implementing in your business. These are loosely grouped into the following four categories of marketing strategies:
- Offline and traditional.
- Digital and online.
Note that in today’s digital and online world there is an increasing amount of cross-over between any of these categories, so these examples are not exclusive to the section where they’re listed. The most effective marketing plans use elements from all four of these categories.
Offline and Traditional Marketing Strategies
Traditional forms of marketing generally suggest marketing strategies used before the internet and online marketing came into existence. These tactics still work and many are necessary for efficient marketing; for instance, promotional materials are still one of the primary ways to leave physical information about your business in the hands of your prospects.
You can have a variety of cost-effective promotional materials to leave with prospects to make it easier to stay top-of-mind and for them to find your contact info. Be sure these contain contact information such as email, phone, website, and social media profiles. They also serve as a durable form of showcasing your work or products.
- Business cards: An essential marketing tool, business cards look professional and are easy to take along and leave with prospects. They are a very portable, cost-effective reminder of your business. Include pertinent info about your business and your contact information. You can even use them to collect email addresses if you put a special offer on them.
- Postcards, pamphlets, leaflets: These are easy to leave behind, pin up on bulletin boards, or mail to prospects. They offer more space for promotions and information about your business than a business card but are still quite portable.
- Brochures, depending upon your business: Offering much more marketing space, brochures can include a brand story and more history about your business and also showcase your products and offerings.
- Branded products, tools, or items: Many people hang on to useful branded items such as calendars, pens, key fobs, notepads, tote bags, magnets, lanyards, and other items like these. These products place a visible reminder of your company in front of your prospect at all times. Relate the item to your business as much as possible; a tax accountant might distribute branded letter openers or calculators.
TV and radio advertising are both now available on a local scale for smaller businesses. Also consider ads in local newspapers, industry publications, and other relevant sources of interest to your target market.
Cold calling is a traditional marketing technique that usually involves creating or buying a list of leads and then calling them to present an offer. A variation of cold calling is warm calling, where the lead is already partially vetted for interest.
Promotional marketing is a business marketing strategy designed to stimulate a customer to take action towards a buying decision. Promotional marketing is a technique that includes various incentives to buy, such as:
- Contests: We all enjoy the chance to win something for free. Contests offer an attractive marketing vehicle for small businesses to acquire new clients and create awareness.
- Coupons or discount codes: Coupons provide an affordable marketing strategy for small businesses. Many people seek coupons and discounts, and they can be enough incentive for them to sample your offer and become a customer.
Sampling: The try-before-you-buy technique is a powerful sales method. Giving away a small sample or a limited-time trial of your product or service can lead to a purchase or a recurring customer.
Direct Mail Marketing
Since many people only get bills and advertisements in the mail today, there is an edge with original direct mail marketing tactics. Be creative and send pieces like birthday cards, anniversary notes, seasonal postcards, or unique business updates or announcements. These days people throw junk mail directly in the garbage but immediately open personal notes or cards. Sending personalized cards to your prospects or customers stands out and makes them feel good.
Getting published in print media, such as newspapers, magazines, or trade publications, gives you both visibility and credibility by establishing you as an expert on your topic. It’s a powerful marketing tactic to build your business’s reputation and share your contact information. An added benefit is that print media tends to have a long shelf life. Research industry publications and pitch a helpful article related to your product or service.
Press releases are effective for promoting an event, new product, or company change. Spend time creating a professional press release and researching the correct party to submit it to. Submitting relevant and useful press releases is a free way of promoting your brand.
There are also press release platforms like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) which connect experts with journalists and bloggers researching information for articles they are writing. This may be a valuable way for your business to gain brand publicity.
Digital and Online Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing is an umbrella term that refers to all types of marketing involving electric media. Smartphone apps, television, and podcasts are all types of digital marketing.
Online marketing is a subset of digital marketing, referring specifically to content delivered via the internet such as websites, social media, and other forms of content marketing. For simplicity, we are categorizing them together here.
Website and Inbound Marketing
Create a professional customer-focused website for your business. Use online marketing strategies like landing pages, lead magnets, content marketing, and SEO to attract and engage visitors.
Inbound marketing is a term used when businesses drive traffic to their website rather than directly advertising products or services. The website encourages people to interact, for instance by completing a form or survey, and this introduces them to your brand and products.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, a marketing technique that focuses on using keywords relevant to your products or services. People conducting online searches will be led to your website by search engines based on the keywords you use in your website content. The time you invest in optimizing your content pays off exponentially by helping improve your ranking on search engines.
Internet users conduct millions of web searches every day, and SEO is one of the primary ways to drive traffic to your website.
Email marketing refers to sending messages to a list of subscribers who have agreed to receive email from your business. It is an easy method for communicating with a large audience at once. Members on the list also receive valuable information, free materials, and other helpful tips, not just marketing messages. It is one of the most convenient ways for a business to keep contacts informed of business activities, special offers, and other relevant information.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is increasing brand visibility by growing your audience with your content on social media platforms. Choose two to four platforms to master, and be consistent with posting content and interacting with your audience on each platform to get optimum results from your efforts. Some popular social media platforms are:
Content marketing relates to creating and distributing branded content across multiple channels. Producing creative, attention-getting, and share-worthy content is a key goal of content marketing. An effective content marketing strategy generates leads by targeting the different phases of the buyer journey and offering value at each stage.
Some specific tactics for content marketing include:
- Blog posts.
- Videos and live streams.
- Case studies.
- Infographics, gifs, and memes.
- Presentations and webinars.
- eBooks and PDF documents.
- Quizzes, surveys, and contests.
- FAQ pages.
Mobile marketing describes using marketing to target mobile devices like smartphones or tables. Email, SMS, apps, websites, email, and social media are all tools used for mobile marketing. The primary advantage of mobile marketing is the ability to provide customers with personalized time- and location-sensitive information promoting goods and services.
SMS marketing is a specific type of mobile marketing where prospects agree to receive text messages (SMS) from your company. These are often used to share time-sensitive offers or important updates.
Face-to-Face Marketing Strategies
Face-to-face marketing strategies are an important visibility tool for marketing because they enhance leadership and develop genuine connections with prospects. For small businesses, face-to-face marketing can be one of your most effective types of marketing. As the world continues to become more digitally based and automated, humans crave more connection. These face-to-face marketing strategies will help build your brand by creating and nurturing relationships with both prospects and other professionals.
Networking is an impactful marketing strategy involving developing personal relationships and creating connections. It’s important to be genuine and generous while networking. Improving interpersonal skills and creating an intentional, structured networking plan can greatly improve your results with this marketing tactic.
There are many ways to network, including joining professional organizations, chambers of commerce, or specific networking organizations. Strengthen your network by becoming a business connector, a person who knows many people and enjoys making introductions and otherwise helping others in their circle.
Community involvement is a good visibility tactic for a business and it benefits the community as well. It creates a positive local environment and gives your business the chance to interact with the community at a personal level and build a positive reputation. Consumers are more committed to companies that give back, and a Fortune Magazine poll stated that millennials prefer companies that give back to the community.
Association and Trade Shows
Attending association and trade shows is a valuable marketing strategy for many reasons, including:
- Allows your business to get brand exposure, both to prospects and within your industry.
- Offers your company the ability to educate prospects on your products at a personal level.
- Gives your business networking opportunities.
- Lets your organization conduct market research of the competition, increasing knowledge of your field.
- Gives your company the chance to learn about new products, processes, and ideas in the industry.
- Provides opportunities for training and development.
- Allows your company lead generation and sales opportunities.
Attend or Conduct Workshops
Attending workshops on professional development is a way to expand your network while improving your skills and learning. Hosting or conducting workshops is a way to demonstrate your expertise and market other products and services to attendees.
Public speaking is a great way to market your business while demonstrating your expertise. Speaking engagements can get you in front of highly targeted prospects interested in your products or services. Many professional organizations need public speakers for their monthly meetings and offer the chance for experts to give free or paid presentations. Speaking for free can lead to paid speaking engagements while giving your company powerful visibility opportunities.
Cross-Category Marketing Strategies
Here are some marketing activities that cross over between the different categories. These all can be done online, offline, and face-to-face.
Building and developing long-term relationships with customers proves to be more valuable to a company over time than only trying to sell them something. Companies who have a positive relationship with a company tend to purchase more and refer others more frequently. Some examples of relationship marketing are:
- Loyalty, incentive, and referral programs.
- Customer-driven content.
- Live video streams.
- Personalized, customer-focused, responsive customer service.
- Feedback — survey and collect feedback.
Affiliate Marketing, Joint Ventures, and Cross-Promotions With Influencers
Partnering up with other businesses gives you each the chance to build your audience and expand your reach.
- Affiliate marketing is when a business pays a commission for referrals that generate sales.
- Joint ventures are two or more businesses that join together for a specific promotion and splitting the risks and proceeds.
- Cross-promotion refers to teaming up with another brand to promote each others’ offers or services.
With the evolution of desktop and digital publishing, the barriers to book publishing are the lowest they’ve ever been. The biggest obstacle today is the discipline to actually do it. (And there’s always the option of hiring a ghostwriter if you can’t muster up the discipline).
A published book is a very compelling marketing device. It builds your authority and credibility by establishing you as the expert. It is also a convenient product to use in giveaways, raffles, and gifting. The best part of writing a book is you also make money through sales of this marketing tool. It’s easy to start creating a PDF or eBook.
Guerilla marketing refers to grass-root or unconventional methods that attract attention for a business in order to boost sales. These are usually low-budget creative techniques that involve large crowds of people and unexpected or unlikely marketing tactics. They are effective because they are distinctive, engaging or amusing, and highly memorable, and they also tend to generate a lot of publicity. An example of guerilla marketing is a flat ad display containing a three-dimensional element, such as a bunch of balloons.
Implementing Different Types of Marketing Strategies
There are numerous types of marketing strategies and new techniques are constantly emerging. Choose just a few of these strategies that appeal most to you, and commit to implementing each for a specific time period. Devise a way of tracking the results for each particular method, and keep repeating the strategies that work best for your business.