Lesson 7: Marketing
What You’ll Learn: There’s no reason to go into business if no one knows how to find you. Marketing is a key component of your strategy for success. In this segment, we’ll lift the shroud of mystery surrounding marketing and show you proven tools and techniques for getting the word out to your target customers, even if you’re doing it on a shoestring.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service sells itself.”
As a small business owner, the chances are good that the ingredients in an effective marketing strategy are about as mysterious to you as a witch’s brew of bat wings and eye of newt.
The truth is, marketing has many layers to it, and some are not only simple, but can be implemented on a reasonably low budget. And whenever you need additional help, it’s easy to find.
The basics are straightforward. Having a great website is essential these days. It’s the first place prospective customers will go. In the current pandemic, it’s even more critical, since it serves as your virtual storefront since phased reopening and stay-at-home orders don’t allow for a traditional shopping experience. You also need to have a great story. Customers are immune to conventional advertising techniques. They are tired of braggadocio and superlatives. What customers want is an honest story and a product or service that delivers on its promises and solves a vexing problem they have been dealing with.
You’ve already done some of the detailed work in your Business Model Canvas, articulating your customer segments, relationships, activities and value propositions.
As we talk about marketing in this part of the Entrepreneur Academy, we’ll keep it pretty generalized. Every small business, every market and every customer segment, is different. The marketing needs of a restaurant are very different from that of a real estate broker or a computer repair shop. Also, marketing requires continual experimentation, in part because the world is changing at a breakneck pace. Yes, you want to come up with some consistent key messaging that makes your story compelling and authentic. But how you deliver that message and when is and should remain situational and fluid.
Jennifer Korfiatis is the Founder/CEO of Jennifer Korfiatis Marketing in Wenatchee. She has an MBA with a specialization in Marketing and earned a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Harvard Business School. Jennifer is a serial entrepreneur and worked with clients ranging from the State of Washington and large Seattle-based medical conglomerate to regional non-profits and the local salon around the corner.
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Get educated. The startup phase for your business is an excellent time to get schooled on marketing, since marketing is essential to your long-term success. If you aren’t interested in the nuts and bolts of getting your name out there, building relationships and engaging customers, find an expert who can help you. There are plenty of boutique agencies and gig workers out there who can devise, refine and share your message on a per-project or freelance basis.
Your customers come first, always. Customers want to feel important. They want to build a long-term relationship with you. Make sure they come first in everything you do at all times. A repeat customer is far more profitable than a new one. Mine the gold and you won’t have to prospect as much because your customers will do all the prospecting for you.
Know your target market. Before you ever come up with a single marketing campaign, business card or brochure, understand everything about your customers. A lot of this process was covered in the Business Model Canvas where we explored what the customers’ pains are, what they need and what they are willing to pay for it.
Marketing is not advertising. Marketing is focused on accomplishing some sort of change in your customer whether that change is in knowledge, awareness or belief. Advertising is about paying to get your message in front of your audience in order to bring that change about. Advertising, by definition, requires some form of financial transaction and is a subset of marketing.
Tell a story. Story-driven marketing has replaced advertising. A well-told story captures your imagination, holds your attention, keeps you in suspense and pays off with a meaningful emotional experience. Stories connect you to an audience in ways that mere words or pictures in a brochure or a web page could never do. Tell your unique story, make it stick, and you will connect with your customers for a lifetime.
Set targets and goals. The success of marketing is in the numbers: the number of leads generated, leads converted into sales and sales turned into repeat sales. It’s easy to blow a fortune on a marketing campaign that goes absolutely nowhere in terms of sales because you never set goals and figured out how to move a customer through the funnel.
Master the four Ps. Positioning, Product, Pricing and Promotion are essential to making your business successful.
- Positioning: This is the perception that your target customer has for your product or service. How does it solve the customers’ problem? Is it a niche product or does it have broader appeal? What attributes does it have that your prospective customers will find attractive? Why would a customer want to buy it initially and subsequently?
- Product: This is what you’re selling. Think in terms of the value it will bring to the customer: How is it packaged or presented and what warranties or guarantees come with it? Is it packaged with any other value-adds, such as a discount on a future purchase or a free trial? Where will it be available and how will it be distributed/delivered?
- Pricing: Low price doesn’t guarantee a sale. It’s all about the value your product offers for a specific price point. Part of this is determined by the market and your competitors’ positioning. Pricing can also be determined by how you want to be perceived in the marketplace, i.e., Tesla vs. Ford.
- Promotion: This is the messaging you plan to use plus the tools you’re going to use to spread the word, including advertising, public relations, marketing, social media, events, collateral and your sales team.