Marketing: Getting Back To The Basics
More than any aspect of running a business, marketing is usually the least understood element and remains a mystery to many business women. It is the first area to get “the axe” during a recession. However, companies that market during recessions come out of the economic slump faster and in a better position within their market than competitors that crawl under a rock. Financial constraints may cause you to modify your marketing plan, but you must do something to keep your company in front of current and potential customers!
More than any aspect of running a business, marketing is usually the least understood element and remains a mystery to a business owner. It is the first area to get “the axe” during a recession. However, companies that market during recessions come out of the economic slump faster and in a better position within their market than competitors that crawl under a rock. Financial constraints may cause you to modify your marketing plan, but you must do something to keep your company in front of current and potential customers!
Marketing is positioning your business to create potential customers; developing awareness of a product or service. In short, it is your business!
- Know your customers. Define your ideal customer. Know everything you can about them; their income, age, marital status, hobbies and interests. Understand them. Concentrate the majority of your marketing efforts on these people.
- Create a business relationship with your customers. Build on the general information that you already have. Communicate customer feedback (wants, needs, expectations) to the “back-end” of your business, production and service delivery operations. Communicate what the customer can expect from you and what you expect from them.
- Discover the buying behavior of your customers. Customers typically use the same buying strategy over and over again. How did you decide to buy this product/service before? What would you like to improve? Look for trends in a market segment. A marketing strategy can then be appropriately developed.
- Know what business you are in. Are you in the business that your customers think you are in? How does the product/service improve their lives (value)?
- Keep a currant database of your customers and regularly contact and nurture them. The more you contact your customers, the more they will remember you in the future and to make referrals to others. It will become almost instinctual. The little things count.
- Ask for responses in your advertising. In addition to standing apart from the crowd in all your advertising, you must ask for a response — offer something. Anything. Do you want customers to stop by, use a coupon, check out your website? If you don’t tell your customers and/or prospects what to do, they probably won’t do it.
- Hire professionals to create your image, assist you to develop a brand and create all marketing materials. A marketing professional can approach your business from an objective point of view. Your image needs to be consistent and professional. A public-relations specialist can assist with your media exposure and give you the training needed for public speaking and live interviews.
- Make it easy for your customers to buy. Hire some friends as mystery shoppers. Encourage feedback from customers. Let customers know when you’ve acted on their suggestions and thank them. Look at everything from signage, parking, business hours, customer service and technology systems. Do you make it easy for special-needs customers to buy? Knowing your market will help you assess what you need.
- Seek free publicity opportunities. Always be on the lookout for free publicity opportunities. Write an article for a newspaper or professional publication that fits your target market. Use the power of online “magazines” for your articles. Offer free services in exchange to help sponsor a charity event. Offer free workshops. Get involved with networking groups.
- Have no fear of being different. Look through the phone book, the newspaper, the Internet — everywhere to see what your competition is doing, both main competitors and fringe competitors.
About the Author: Ellyn S. Traub is President and Executive Coach, High Performance Leadership, Inc. Carmel, IN. She can be reached via phone at (317) 844-9825; e-mail at Ellyn@hpleadership.com; or visit her website at www.hpleadership.com.