How to completely change what you think about marketing
What is marketing? It’s taken me a while to write this blog post. I kept putting it off because I thought you might not want to read it.
What changed my mind?
The conversations I’m hearing about marketing from small business owners. They’ve changed in the time I’ve been in business (I started in 2016, in case you’re wondering.)
I can see that small business owners are looking at marketing more strategically, they’ve become savvier about how it can impact their businesses. So, now is the right time.
Let’s start with what it isn’t
What do you think of when you think of marketing?
Are you thinking of some of these things?
- Posting on Facebook
- Creating an Instagram Reel
- Sending a newsletter
- Writing a blog post
I know lots of businesses do. But these things are promotional methods by which you reach your target audience. Even if you’re not selling anything, you’re still promoting your business. And promotion is a part of marketing, but it’s not the whole shebang.
Who is Phillip Kotler? He’s often referred to as the father of marketing. His textbook is still used in marketing studies today. I used it throughout studying for my Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications.
Why is that definition important?
Because it moves you away from thinking solely about promotion. When all you’re doing is promoting your business, you’re not thinking about your target market. You’re talking about yourself without really thinking about the value you provide.
Let’s break down that definition of marketing
You know me. Never like to leave things unexplained. So, here’s my take on what Phillip Kotler means in the quote above.
Science and art
For me, marketing has always been these two things.
Science because you really need to get under the skin of every aspect of your business. Think of yourself as a forensic scientist. Be curious and learn all there is to know about your business and its target audience.
Art because marketing is being creative. You can be creative in different ways – visually, the people you partner with, the way you communicate, the way you make your budget stretch further…
Exploring, creating, and delivering value
Let’s face it, none of us buys stuff because we have loads of money to spare, unless you’re a billionaire! You need to find a way to satisfy the needs of your target audience.
Every purchase needs to bring us value.
- Dinner out because you just don’t feel like cooking tonight.
- A book because you want to be entertained.
- A workshop because you want to learn a new skill.
- A gym membership because you want to get fit.
Do you see? We buy things to satisfy a need.
At a profit
You don’t have a business if you’re not making money. And marketing needs to help you make money, or it’s not working. You need to work out how you can market your business profitably. That means knowing exactly how your marketing contributes to bringing in business. That means measuring and tracking.
A framework to help you
Let’s get you organised! I talked about the 4Ps in this blog post. But the 4Ps have expanded into the 7Ps of marketing. This framework will help you understand what you need to market your business.
- Product (or service)
- Promotion (that bit all small businesses start with)
- Physical evidence
Here’s a quick explanation of each one.
How many times have you thought of a new product and launched it to tumbleweed? The smart move is to work out if it’s something your target audience wants and will value.
Your product doesn’t have to be a tangible thing. It can be a service. The thing here is to work out if your customers want it, have a system in place to regularly check what they think of it, and if it will serve them now and in the future.
You want to be competitive, but really, do you want to be the cheapest? Remember, you need to make a profit. You’ll need to work out what your customers are willing to pay. And setting a price will tell your customers how you stack up against your competitors. Plus, if you’re the most expensive, they’re going to expect a better level of service. Lastly, everything your customer sees needs to be consistent with the higher quality expectations – that’s packaging, website, promotional materials… everything.
What you sell needs to be available in the right place for your customers. Will you sell exclusively online? Are you shutting out a proportion of your target audience that won’t buy online? Do you have enough stock to satisfy demand? What about delivery – how will you get it into the hands of your customers? Lastly, if you do only sell online, can people buy from you using their mobile phones? Making sure all this is in place is important to help you sell.
OK, you’ve been doing this for a while. It’s the place you started. Promotion is how you communicate with your target audience. It includes a number of things: branding, social media, website, expos… this list goes on. The important thing to remember is it should help you have a two-way conversation with your target audience. It’s not about you broadcasting.
This is everyone your customers come into contact with. If you’re the only person in your business, then it’s simple. But if you have a team, they are part of your marketing because often, customers don’t separate the product or service from the person who provides it. So, it’s important that everyone in your business understands your business values and, even better, believes in them. Don’t forget that your team is on social media and what they share will have an impact on your business, so have a clear social media policy in terms of posting about your business.
When someone buys from you, they’re investing in an entire process. But it’s not one they’re particularly interested in knowing about. That’s why you need to make sure your process of delivering that product or service is red hot. That means knowing how your customers first come into contact with your business and making sure the process of dealing with you from there is seamless. Make it a great experience for them and they will recommend you!
Whenever we decide to buy something, we want to pick a supplier that we know. But what if you’re considering a business for the first time? You want to know that you’re spending your money wisely. That means evidence that you’re about to pick a credible business. That means every aspect of your business needs to say you’re that credible business. From your reception area to your website, right through to what existing customers say about you. It all needs to stack up and point to you being the business they want to buy from.
So, what now?
Well, the next thing you should look at is a marketing strategy. Eek! This blog post will help you get started with yours.
This will help you decide on the marketing tactics you want to use. A marketing tactic is what you do to help you deliver on your marketing strategy. If you need some help, this blog post goes through some tactics small businesses can use.
Is that all?
No! If it all seems too much for you to do on your own, I’m right here. I can help you get this all sorted out with my coaching packages. I work alongside you to help you achieve what you need with your marketing. That means each session is tailored for you. And they’re priced to suit micro and small business budgets, with payment plans to help you spread the costs. Check out the options and then book a call with me!