Getting your business in front of the right people is not an easy task.
You already know that putting your business in front of the wrong people is like throwing money down the drain.
In this article, I'm going to give you a broad overview on how to go about marketing your business.
Just to be clear, there are A LOT of moving parts when it comes to devising a marketing strategy.
I've personally taken and passed 11 Digital Marketing certifications, which included topics like Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Value Optimization, Community Management, and more.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out my Credly and see for yourself.
No one piece is more important than the next. It takes having a grasp of all the moving parts to see how everything fits together.
Fortunately for you, you don't need to pass 11 Digital Marketing certifications like I did.
By the time we're through here, you should have a pretty good grasp on all of the major aspects of marketing as it applies to your business.
So with that being said, let's dive in.
Understand Your Target Market
You have to understand that at the end of the day, you are serving your customer. Your product and offering must adapt accordingly, not the other way around.
Clothing lines are an excellent examples of being customer-centric. Every season, they come out with a new line of clothing that's catered to their audience.
The product that they make changes and keeps pace with their customer’s changing tastes.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself, when it comes to defining your target market:
- What are their goals and values?
- What are their challenges and pain points?
- Where do they get their sources of information?
- What objections might they have to your product?
- What role do they play in the purchase process?
At this point, you should have a good feel of who your target market is.
Depending on your business, it might be necessary to come up with several customer avatars, each one of them representing a particular segment of your market.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition
After you’ve gotten clear on who you’re speaking to, you need to figure out what makes you different.
Being like everyone else is the easiest way to go unnoticed.
The ones that rise to the top are usually easy to spot.
Figure out what makes yous different and wear it on your sleeve.
Seth Godin talks about a similar concept in his book “Purple Cow”. Instead of different, he uses the word “remarkable”.
If you saw a plain-looking cow, you wouldn’t even think twice.
Neil Patel puts it another way with a simple question: what does your business stand for?
By answering that simple question, you’re able to clearly define what makes your business stand out from your competitors.
Trying to become known for everything is just as bad as trying to market to everyone. In the end, no one will be attracted to you or your business.
Create A Statement Of Value
Before you can create your statement of value, we’re going to take a step back and go over the point behind marketing in the first place.
If you’re running a business, then obviously you want your marketing efforts to produce dollars and cents.
But what about the customer?
You might think that the customer gets the product, but that’s not it.
People don’t buy products. They don’t buy solutions either.
What they’re buying is TRANSFORMATION.
In this image, courtesy of DigitalMarketer, we have a simplified drawing of your prospect.
On the left side, we have your prospect prior to purchasing your product or service. On the right, is your prospect after they purchase your product or service.
Your goal as a marketer is to articulate the move (or transformation) from the “before” state to the “after state”.
Before we can do that, we have to first define the “Before” State and “After State”.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when defining the “before” and “after” state:
- What do they have?
- What do they feel?
- What does an average day look like?
Your target market’s ideal “after” state gives us the information we need to create your statement of value.
Here’s a simple formula that I learned from Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer for
crafting a statement of value:
[PRODUCT NAME] enables [CUSTOMER] to experience [IDEAL AFTER STATE].
Define Your Brand - How To Market Your Business
If you were to ask 10 people what a brand is, you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
I’ve come across many definitions, but I like this one from Lucidpress which goes, “the sum total of all the impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company and your products.”
An important thing to note is that every interaction with your brand sends a message.
For example, you might be selling a product that conveys sophistication and wealth. But what if someone contacts customer service and they have a horrible experience?
Needless to say, your brand will suffer.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in defining your brand:
- Why does your company exist?
- What’s your story?
- What problems do you help your customer solve?
Understand the 4 P’s Of How To Market Your Business
The 4 P’s of Marketing is a concept introduced by E. Jerome McCarthy, an American marketing professor, back in 1960 in his book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.
This model is predicated on a deep understanding of the target market’s needs and wants.
Once there is understanding of the target market's interests, marketers develop tactics, using the 4 P’s, to encourage buyers to purchase product.
Here are the 4 P’s:
If you plan on having a long and sustainable business, you need to create quality products. It doesn’t matter if you do it, or you hire someone else to do it.
Even if you’re an affiliate, then you need to make sure that you’re promoting quality products.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when it comes to vetting any product:
- Does it have unique features?
- Does it solve a problem?
- Can you explain how it works?
- Are there proven results?
- Is it multifunctional?
Placement refers to where people can buy your product. This will either be online, offline, or both.
Stores like Walmart and Sears have physical locations for their stores as well as ecommerce websites that sell their products. If you can take advantage of both, then go for it.
Here are a few other things to consider when determining your placement strategy:
- Where do buyers look for your product or service?
- Are your products available at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities?
- What do your competitors do, and how can you learn from that and/or differentiate?
Pricing your product is both an art and science. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and that will be more apparent as we go over the different pricing strategies that are used.
As a general rule, you don’t want to price your product below the cost that it makes to create your product. Although, there are times when you may want to sell something for less than it costs to make it, if you can ensure that you’ll make more on the backend.
Here are the most common pricing strategies, which comes directly from FitSmallBusiness’ Product Pricing Strategy Guide :
This pricing method is generally used in retail stores. The final price is determined by taking the cost it takes to make the product and doubling it.
For example, if you own a retail store and it costs $5.00 for you to make a toothbrush, your final price would be $10.00.
This is short for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. This is the most straightforward way of pricing your products.
In a nutshell, your product sells for whatever the manufacturer puts on the label. This is usually double the cost it takes to make the product, like Keystone Pricing.
Psychological pricing is based on scientific studies of how human beings react to certain numbers.
For example, studies have shown that people feel better about buying something for $3.95 versus $4.00.
Studies have also shown that people experience psychological pain of loss when it comes to parting with their money. Even a difference of just a few cents makes a huge difference in the mind of the customer.
This type of strategy involves regularly selling your goods below your competitor’s Keystone or MSRP price. There are entire businesses driven by this model like Dollar Stores, Big Lots, and Home Goods.
If you’re a small retailer, it might be a good idea to have a sale every once in a while to boost sales, unload stock and take advantage of seasonal trends.
This type of pricing strategy involves selling select products that make little to no profit. You might even lose a bit of money on them.
The goal of this strategy is to have a couple of great deals that draws in buyers so you can sell more expensive products on the backend.
This is a kind of discount pricing where you display the MSRP or regular price and your lower price on all of the products you sell.
When your customers come to shop, they will constantly be reminded that they are getting a lower than retail deal in your store.
It doesn’t have to be a substantially deep discount either. It could be as little as 5 to 10% storewide on all of your products. This is enough to create a memorable sense of value for your customers and have them coming back for more.
Cost Plus Pricing
In this strategy, you apply a standard markup to your total product cost. Your product cost includes manufacturing, material, shipping, storage, and overhead expenses, then adds a percentage markup on top.
Here’s the formula for how this is calculated:
Cost + (Cost x Markup Percent) = Sale Price
Wholesalers usually add a flat charge to all goods that pass through their hands. For most consumer goods, they charge around 15% but this can vary depending on the industry.
Manufacturers also like this pricing strategy because they can apply consistent profit percentage to every product.
Private Label Sellers markup their products as much as 200% to 300% to stay competitive on multichannel online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.
Promotion refers to how you’re going to get the word out about your business. If you’re not actively promoting yourself, then the chances of your target market finding you are slim to none.
There are a variety of strategies available depending on your marketing budget, and you can either focus on one or multiple strategies at once.
A strong promotional strategy can help put your company in a favorable light and open the doors for future communications.
Here are a few of the most common promotional strategies:
- Traditional Advertising
- Online Advertising
- Direct Mail
- PR & Sponsorship
- Personal Selling
Traditional advertising is an umbrella term for “old-school” advertising. This includes newspaper, radio, TV, magazines and billboards.
The goal with this type of advertising is usually geared towards creating awareness. You can make sales from traditional advertising, but it’s almost never immediate.
Online advertising involves using web-based mediums to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers.
It has grown in leaps and bounds since the Internet gained widespread inception back in the 90s.
Back in 2017, digital advertising spending worldwide reached $229 billion. This year, it’s expected to climb to $269 billion.
Direct Mail can trace its origins back to 1872 when Aaron Montgomery Ward launched his mail-order business, which consisted of a one-page catalogue.
Nowadays people refer to these things as “junk mail”.
Despite the bad rap it gets, studies have shown that people still enjoy receiving things in the mail.
Researchers have also found that people use 21% less of their cognitive capacity when it comes to processing the direct mail.
Less cognitive capacity means it’s easier for them to digest and remember what they’ve read. People who see a direct mail piece are able to remember the brand 75% of the time, compared to 44% via digital channels.
PR & Sponsorship
After reviewing thousands of submissions, the Public Relations Society of America, widely considered to be the world’s largest professional organization for public relations professionals, settled upon this definition:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
The goal of public relations is to generate positive publicity for their client and enhance their reputation.
Because of that, sponsorships are especially useful in creating a favorable public image.
A good sponsorship can help shape buying attitudes and generate a positive reaction.
Personal selling is also known as face-to-face selling. In this instance, either you or a trained sales representative meets with the prospective client to sell your product or service.
The sales process was first articulated by Norval Watkins back in 1918. The 9-step process has experienced little change since it was first created and is still in use today.
Here are the steps:
- Prospecting - This occurs when the salesperson attempts to identify leads and prospects. They may gather this information from various sources such as business directories, commercial databases, or mailing lists.
- Qualifying leads - The sales team determine if the prospects represent genuine potential customers
- Pre-approach - Refers to the process of preparing for the presentation. This includes customer research, goal planning, scheduling an appointment, and any other tasks that may be necessary to prepare for the sales presentation.
- Approach - This is the stage where the salesperson initially meets the customer.
- Needs Assessment - In this stage, the salesperson evaluates the prospect’s potential need for the product. The salesperson asks questions that are designed to reveal the prospect’s current situation, source of any problems, impact of problems and the benefits of the solution.
- Sales Presentation - After a clear understanding of the prospect’s needs, the salesperson is ready to give the presentation. The AIDA model is typically used, which is short for grabbing the prospect’s Attention, igniting Interest, creating Desire, and inspiring Action.
- Handling Objections - No matter how good your presentation is, a prudent sales representative is always ready for objections. Your prospect’s objections will generally fall in one of four categories: they’re questioning the price of the product, they dismiss the product/service as inadequate, they want to avoid making a commitment to buy, or they’re refusing due to an unknown factor.
- Closing - When the salesperson feels the prospect is ready, they will seek to gain commitment and ask for the close. If they’re not sure if the prospect is ready to buy, they might consider using a trial close. A trial close is a question that assumes that they’ve already bought the product. For example, if the salesperson is selling a piece of clothing, they might ask the customer which color they would prefer if they were to get it.
- Follow-up - After the appointment, the salesperson sets up another time to meet with the prospect. More often than not, it takes several contacts with the prospect before they’re ready to buy. There’s a statistic that says 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
Set Aside A Budget For Learning How To Market Your Business
Most business owners are afraid to invest into their marketing because they don’t want to lose money. However, if you don’t set aside money for marketing, you could miss out on a lot of opportunities.
If people don’t know you exist, then they won’t look for you. And they won’t buy from you either.
Instead, they’ll buy from your competitors. Sucks for you.
If you’re marketing on Facebook, you can start off with as little as $5 per day. Once you got a winning ad campaign, you can scale up accordingly.
Here’s a 3-step process you can follow to create a marketing budget:
- Set goals - Before you spend a single cent, you need to know what your endgame is. If you start randomly spending your money on ads, you’re going to get random results. Even if you get good results (i.e., you make money), you won’t be able to duplicate it.
- Determine where you want to spend your funds - Now that you know what you’re aiming for, you need to figure out where you’re going to spend your money. There’s a variety of different ad platforms available from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to native ad platforms like Taboola and Outbrain. If online isn’t your thing, then look into offline sources like newspapers, billboards, radio, etc.
- Assess data and make changes - As you’re running your ad campaigns, you want to be paying attention to the types of results you’re getting. If your ads are underperforming, then it might be time to pull the plug and figure out what’s wrong. Monitoring your ad results will ensure that each dollar is being used wisely.
Create A Website For Marketing Your Business
As of June 2017, about 51% of the world has access to the internet. That’s over 3 billion people. The internet allows you to connect with people in your neighborhood or halfway around the world in mere seconds.
If you have a business and have no online presence, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity.
Some businesses treat their social media profile like their website. The problem with that is you don’t own the platform.
You could build up a Facebook Page and get tons of engagement on each post. But if something happens to Facebook and they shut down, your entire network is gone with it.
A website is an online property that you own and have full control over.
You can control the entire experience of your target market and can do a variety of things like generate leads, sell products, engage with your audience, and more.
Personally, I like using WordPress because it’s free and it has a ton of cool plugins which makes it do all kinds of cool stuff. That’s a blog post for another time.
WordPress falls under a larger class of websites known as Content Management Systems, or CMS for short. CMS is used to create and manage digital content.
WordPress is by far, the most popular CMS with around 18 million installations. Other CMS systems include Adobe Dreamweaver (~2.7 million installations), Joomla (~2.5 million installations), and Drupal (~772,000 installations).
Besides CMS systems, there are popular website builders like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
Build A Sales Funnel - How To Market Your Business
A sales funnel is a concept that helps us visualize the journey your target market takes on their way towards becoming a customer.
It’s extremely rare for someone to come across your business once and want to buy from you. You have to lead them down a path step-by-step.
It’s no different than how human relationships evolve. First, someone starts off as a complete stranger. Then, they become an acquaintance. And over time, it evolves to friendship and perhaps even beyond that.
In order to build your sales funnel, there are 5 necessary components:
- Lead Magnet
- Core Offer
- Profit Maximizer
- Return Path
In a future article, we will go over in detail how to build a sales funnel.
Build An Email List - How To Market Your Business
If you’ve been doing online marketing as long as I have, then you’ve probably heard the phrase “the money is in the list”. And that isn’t just hype either.
The Direct Marketing Association reported that “Email Marketing yields an average of 4,300% return on investment for businesses in the United States.”
However, you can’t take statistics to the bank. You need to take those stats and use it as justification to start building your list immediately.
But if you still need more convincing, here are some more ways you can employ email marketing:
- Acquisition - Getting new customers
- Branding - Creating more touchpoints.
- Traffic - Getting more eyeballs on your website.
- Engagement - Boosting social metrics (i.e. likes, comments, shares, etc.)
- Direct Sales - Generating more product purchases
- Referrals - Increased word-of-mouth
- Reactivation - Re-engaging prospects that have fallen out of touch.
To get started, the first thing you want to do is come up with some sort of bribe to get people to join your list in the first place.
For more information on selling with email, check out this infographic.
Establish A Social Media Presence - How To Market Your Business
Social media is here to stay. Even if you’re not there, you can be almost certain that your competitors are.
Several social media platforms have over a billion people on them. Facebook and Facebook Messenger each have over a billion users. YouTube has over a billion active users. Instagram has a billion active users.
Even the smaller ones have a significant user base. Reddit has about 330 million users. Pinterest has 200 million users.
Just to be clear, you don’t need to be on all of them. But I would say that every business should have a Facebook page and have a LinkedIn company page. Both of them are free and they take a few minutes to set up.
On the practical side, social media offers a variety of benefits such as increased brand awareness, increased website traffic, and a deeper relationship with your audience through increased engagement.
Build A Community For Marketing Your Business
Upon first glance, a community might seem unnecessary when your goal is to sell products and services to the end consumer. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Having a sense of belonging is priceless. People want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
In order for a community to be called a community, it must have these 3 characteristics:
- A segment of people
- Member to Member relationships
- A shared goal, experience or interest
It’s like a 3-legged stool. If you take away even 1 leg, the whole thing will fall.
For business owners, having a community can help increase revenue and reduce cost.
Increasing revenue can take on a variety of forms which include:
- Increased Retention & Reduced Churn
- Increased Purchase Frequency & Recency
- Increased Brand Loyalty
- Increased Customer Advocacy.
In addition, having a community can help reduce costs, which means more money and resources to invest elsewhere.
Here are some of the ways that communities help reduce cost:
- Call/Ticket Deflection - Someone from the community helps a fellow member instead of that member sending in a ticket.
- Reduced Marketing Cost - Less money is spent on marketing because you have a warm list of people you can connect with.
- Product/Content Development - You can hear directly from your community members how you can improve your product or what topics you should talk about.
Choose Your Traffic Source For Marketing Your Business
Traffic is nothing more than getting eyeballs on your website. Those eyeballs can come from just about anywhere like social media, search engine, website referral, or email, to name a few.
Without traffic, your business cannot grow. It’s like having a store and nobody comes to buy anything. If you don’t have a steady follow of traffic coming into your store, you’ll be forced to shut down.
All web traffic falls into two distinct categories: paid traffic and organic traffic.
Paid traffic is kinda like having a water hose. You can turn it on and off at will and you can determine how much traffic you want to send to your website.
Organic traffic is like rain. It’s unpredictable when it comes and it can either be a lot or a little.
If you’re smart, you should be using a combination of both. If you have a limited budget, then you should definitely invest into organic traffic. One of the best ways to leverage organic is through Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short.
If you know exactly what keywords your target market is typing into Google, you can create the digital asset so that when they do a search for your keyword, your website comes up first. Besides Google, you can optimize your content to rank on any site that relies heavily on search functionality like Amazon, YouTube and iTunes.
Even if you have a budget for paid traffic, I strongly recommend starting small and scale your way up once you see your campaign is producing favorable results.
Check out this article by Entrepreneur below about marketing your business through content.