Marketing refers to the social and managerial processes by which products, services, and value are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals' or groups' needs and wants. These processes include, but are not limited to, advertising, promotion, distribution, and sales.
A lot of marketing fails to capture its audiences attention or interest whilst some campaigns have extraordinary success. What are the secret elements that make some resonate while others falter?
When you start a new business, especially a small business, you will have nightmares about two areas:
- Obtaining new business
- Continuing sales through existing customers
The answers to these problems are commonly misunderstood. Most new entrants into business will answer both the above questions with "advertising".
...effective marketing can create awareness of your business.
The problem with this answer is that advertising is only one part of many options that can be used to obtain new custom, and maintain sales from your existing customer base. To be successful in business you need to understand 'marketing'.
What is Marketing?
Marketing comprises a number of disciplines:
- Direct Mail
- Internet Web Site
- Design of Promotions
- Press Release
- Public Relations
- Selling Yourself
- Identify the total market for your product or service.
- To whom are you targeting your product or service?
- Identify your competition detailing the strengths and weaknesses and your advantages relative to them.
- How will your competition react to you entering the market?
- What are your past sales (if applicable) and future projections?
- What price (manufacture, wholesale, retail, etc.) do you intend to charge for you product/service and how does it compare to the competition?
- What are your selling terms (cash or credit)?
The target market section of your business plan must clearly identify the current and prospective buyers of your Company’s products and/or services. Your goal in preparing the target market section is to demonstrate to readers that you clearly understand who your customers are and how your products/services directly meet the needs of the marketplace. Properly identifying your potential customer base also helps to drive overall marketing and sales strategies that you will include within other sections of your business plan.
Although your product or service may meet the needs of a large constituency of potential customers, the goal is to define your customer base as specifically as possible – both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Positioning is another one of those marketing jargon words that everybody throws around and is important to understand. It's also important to understand how positioning specifically applies to your small business marketing.
Basically a marketing position describes your unique place in the market. The key word here is unique. What makes you different from your competitors? What features and benefits do you offer your target market that the other players don't?
Here are a few things that may go into your positioning:
- Price Point - This doesn't necessarily mean you have the lowest price. You may be the most expensive in town, and that is not a problem if you convince your customers you are worth it.
- Service - Almost every business claims they have great service. If you can provide exceptional service compared to your competitors, your customers will remember you.
- Features and Benefits - Positioning is not just about what makes you different, it's also about what you emphasize. Folgers announces to the world that it's "mountain grown coffee" ( a feature). Guess what? All coffee is mountain grown. Folgers just claimed this feature first. What's something that none of your competitors are talking about?
- Credibility - Many products get celebrity endorsements. Many companies tout how long they've been in business. All of these things build trust in the mind of the consumer. What trust-building factors do you have that the competition does not?
- Negative Features - Is there something you don't have that annoys customers of your competitors? Do not use negative advertising, but just mention the feature and tie it to a benefit. Instead of touting free parking, a mall that wants to speak to me might declare, "you will never have to pay for parking". This drives home the pain of shopping with a competitor without going negative.
- Anything Else - Literally anything that differentiates you from your competitors can be part of your positioning strategy - your location, your hours of operation, the way your office smells. Small business owners need to think creatively here.
Promotion and advertising can be a heavy expense, especially for a new business that wants to make itself known in a community. A home-based business, however, more often than not, has a very limited budget when it comes to advertising. The home business owner needs to make the public aware of his or her product or service at the lowest possible cost.
There are many ways. A pet breeder in a large city was struggling for several years-until he came up with a novel idea. He started giving away customized "birth certificates" for the pets he sold. Almost immediately, his sales rose more than 10 percent.
The owner of a new home cleaning service was trying to attract clients. She couldn't afford much advertising, so she began offering "home cleaning seminars" to civic groups. After two months of seminars, she was swamped with inquiries and clients.
Promotion often makes the crucial difference between business success and failure. Customers or clients must know about a business or product line before they'll buy and they must have a reason to buy.
If you are trying to promote your business now, you can move in one of two directions:
- You can take the conventional route to promotion and mount an elaborate media campaign, spending a considerable amount of money or
- You can let your creative juices flow and mount a low-cost promotion effort, using a potpourri of attention-getting gimmicks to bring your message to the buying public.
Now, to be sure, conventional advertising is valuable. If your enterprise is large enough or if you're selling numerous product lines, you may find that a full-fledged media campaign is the most efficient and cost effective way to promote your business.
If money is tight, however, or you're not sure you can amortize the heavy cost of a media campaign over a period of time, the following is a assortment of low-cost techniques you can try. Not all may be appropriate for your particular business, and certainly it would be costly to try them all. But you're sure to find some ideas that will work for you.
Giveaways. People love to receive "free" items, especially items they can use to gain knowledge or improve their lives. You can base an entire promotional campaign on this desire. If you're running a furniture repair business, for instance, you could give away a furniture repair brochure, free furniture planning guides, or color swatches. Once you begin giving away authoritative information customers will begin to perceive you as an expert in your field.
News Stories. Want to get names and news from your business in the local newspaper? It may be easier that you think. If you don't have any news to report to the local media, create some. Maybe you've taken on a new associate. Or maybe you're selling an unusual product line. Or maybe you've opened a free advice center for the community. Or maybe you've received an award from a civic or professional group. Local Pennysavers and weekly are often quite interested in business news of this sort and can help you attract the attention of thousands of people.
Events. You may be able to attract the attention of the media or a crowd by staging a special promotional event. If you run a fitness classes, for instance, you could stage a celebrity instructor day. If you're promoting a new real estate business, you can offer tours of a model home in the area. If you're selling children's products and it's springtime, you can offer lunch with the Easter bunny. Get the idea?
Charity Tie-Ins. Are you launching a new product? Trying to increase visibility among a particular segment of your community? Offer your product to one or more local charities as a raffle prize or for use at a fund raising event. You'll receive lots of exposure among people who buy tickets or attend the event.
Contests. Offer a desirable or unique item-or even several items-as contest prizes. First, find a contest theme that tiers into your business. A caterer might offer a quiche-eating contest. A photographer might offer a young model contest. A mail order craft firm might offer an "Early American" handicrafts contest. Invite contest submissions and offer prizes to the winners. Do contests attract attention? You bet. All it takes is a few signs, a small press announcement or two, and the word will spread throughout the community grapevine.
Community Service. Nothing brings you to the attention of the people faster-or more favorably-than community service. Ask yourself how your enterprise can be a "good neighbor" to your community. If you're running a lawn care and gardening service, perhaps you can offer one season's services at no charge to a needy charitable organization or nursing home in your area. Hundreds of people will hear about your work in the process. Volunteer for various community causes. If appropriate, you can step in during community emergency, offering products and services to help an organization or individuals in need.
Couponing. Americans are very coupon-conscious. Test the market: at what level will coupons increase the volume of various product or service lines? When you get some tentative answers, start distributing coupons that offer a discount on your services. Distribute them to area newspapers, on store counters, in door-to-door- mail packets (which can often be quite inexpensive), at the public library, at laundromats, at any location where people congregate.
Badges and Novelties. You can easily and inexpensively produce badges, bumper stickers, book covers, and other novelty items for distribution in your area. You can imprint your business name and the first names of the customers on many of these products at little cost and distribute them for free. Or you can tie your novelty program into a contest: once a month, you can offer a prize to any individual whose car happens to carry one of your bumper stickers or badges with peel-off coupons, redeemable at your place of business.
Celebrities. With a bit of persistence, you may be able to arrange to have a local media celebrity, public official, or entertainment personally-even a fictitious cartoon character or clown-visit your service. The celebrity can sign autographs, read stories to children, perform cooking demonstrations, or perform any one of a hundred other traffic-building activities.
Holidays. You'll probably want to celebrate major public holidays with special sales. But celebrate some of the offbeat holidays as well. Almost every business has a few little-known holidays. Ever hear of National Pickle Day, for instance? Or Cat Lovers Month? Once you find the "right" holiday, you can sponsor a special sale or special product arrange special media coverage of a holiday event.
Follow Potential Customers. Can you open sales information booths at community fairs and festivals? This promotional technique can work for gift retailers, craftspeople, and personal service firms. If you have the people and the time, can you handle regional fairs or even trade shows?
Mailing Lists. Once you begin establishing a committed clientele, gather their names on a mailing list. Save the names from your mail orders and telephone inquiries. Eventually, you'll be able to send product circulars or even catalogs to the folks on your list and you'll be able to promise your products by mail.
Scavenger Hunts. If you want people to buy NOW, offer them an unbeatable deal. If they bring an old product-a small appliance, a book, whatever-to you, you'll give them a worthwhile discount on a comparable new item. Or stage a general purpose scavenger hunt. Customers who bring in three canned goods for your community's food bank will receive a discount on products purchased that day.
Parties. Everyone loves a party. Why not celebrate the anniversary of your business or some special holiday by offering baked goods and beverages? If you're running a service business, perhaps you can offer an open house or obtain a small banquet room in your community. Besides refreshments, be sure the place is brightly decorated.
Greeting Cards. Do you send out greeting cards to major customers or clients? Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries make nice greeting card occasions. Greeting cards create enormous goodwill and keep your name in front of people.
Seminars. In this information hungry age, people love to receive advice, especially about their personal needs and hobbies. If you sell health foods or run fitness classes, perhaps you can offer "wellness" seminars during lunchtime to your area's business community. If you're an interior decorator, perhaps you can offer one-hour decorating workshops to any group of ten people who will gather in someone's home. If you're running a printing business, perhaps you can offer tours and layout seminars at your plant.
By all means, advertise in the media if you can or must. But don't neglect your greatest promotional asset-your mind. Ponder the products, services, and events you can offer the community and devise a creative promotional strategy around them. You'll have to invest a bit of time and energy in the project, but the payoff will be worth it. You'll save hundreds-or even thousands-of advertising dollars and, better yet, you'll travel a well-worn shortcut to profit.
Internet and network marketing are inseparably related today. The phenomenal growth of the Internet has been a great boost for those trying to establish a network marketing business of their own. Whether part time or full time, you can combine the worldwide exposure and instant response so typical of the Internet to build your business from your home or office computer, or for that matter, anywhere in the world. You are always connected.
Many people have made fortunes on the Internet and network marketing has been easy for them for so many reasons. But the one common thing among them is that they have all worked really hard at it. This is no ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme on the Internet and network marketing is just like any other business. You succeed if you persevere.
If you are conversant with the ways of the Internet and network marketing looks like the right thing for you, then start building your business today! Network marketing is a worldwide mega trend today, with about 30,000 people joining network marketing companies per week. And why do you think that is? Because network marketing is a way for an average individual, without any prior business experience and technical training, to establish a worldwide, highly profitable marketing organization, and to run it out of his or her own home.
Network marketing is nothing but a highly efficient way of getting a product from a manufacturer directly into the hands of the customer, without all the middlemen who only serve to increase the cost of the product, and without the traditionally huge advertising expenses incurred by most companies.
The Internet has had great effect on the network marketing industry. Some companies have been very successful in using the Internet and network marketing has been booming. There are several companies with sales in the hundreds of millions dollars annually, who enter between seventy and ninety percent of their orders via the Internet or automatic touchtone ordering. The distributors use this system because they choose to. Those who feel the least bit uncomfortable with technology are free to call an 800 number to place orders with live operators. Most, however, recognize and take advantage of the benefits of the newer technologies.
So don’t have second thoughts about whether or not to make use of the Internet, and network marketing may be just the thing for you. Work at your own time and pace, and slowly but surely build up a residual income. Fulfill your dream of being able to afford the luxuries of life. Enjoy life king-size!
Once your site is up and running, the best method for getting immediate traffic is pay-per-click search engine marketing. Although you have to be patient, you should also be focusing on search engine optimization as a long term strategy.
Search Engine Optimization – “SEO”
Search engine optimization, or “seo” as it is better known, is the definitive long term Internet marketing strategy. So, what is it? Seo simply refers to taking steps to make sure your site appears high in non-paid search results on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
The reason seo is considered a long term strategy is…well, it takes a long time. If your marketing is focusing on highly competitive keywords, such as “Europe travel”, there is so much competition that you could be looking at two or three years before getting top rankings. The time period is really a factor of how fast you can build links. Sometimes you can move up within 6 months, but sometimes it takes a few years.
Is it worth it to wait for 2 years to get into the top five for “Europe travel”? There are over 2,000,000 searches a month for the keyword phrase. What do you think? If you offer a service or product related to traveling in Europe, how much money would you make if even 1 million people visited your site each month?
Think about that.
There are three, and only three, search engines that matter when it comes to seo – Google, Yahoo and Bing. What about MSN, Alta Vista, etc.? They simply don’t have enough traffic to make them worth pursuing.
There are four keys to seo.
- First, you must research the amount of traffic various keywords are receiving.
- Second, you must modify your site to include the exact keywords phrases in the meta tagging and text.
- Third, you must add and add and add content to your site. The more content, the more the big three will like your site.
- Finally, you must trade links with other sites that have content related to your site.
The keys to pursuing a seo marketing strategy are discipline and patience. Let’s take a quick look at each.
You must have the discipline to stick with your seo effort when you are seeing no results. The desire to throw one’s arms in the air in frustration is going to be strong. Just remember that every step you take today will pay off down the road.
Patience balances feelings of frustration and you are going to have a lot of those. Look, it is going to take a long time, so resist the urge to whine. Stick a sign up over your desk counting off the months or have a regular exercise routine. If nothing else, you can day dream about all of the free traffic you are going to get one day.
Search engine optimization is not for the weak of mind or impatient. If you can stick with it, this long term marketing strategy always pays off.
Effective Website Marketing Tools
Anyone who owns a website knows the importance of internet marketing tools. You may have a terrific idea for a website with an excellent product or service, superb design, content and functionality but if you do not use the right tactics, your site may not attract the all important highly targeted traffic. Getting a lot of traffic into a site has very little to do with the site itself but with how the webmaster or site owner advertises it. With hundreds of competing sites, you must employ the most effective internet marketing tools that will truly deliver results.
There are different internet marketing tools that you can use. All these techniques and methods aim at increasing your website traffic. You must find a way for web surfers to find your site. To do this, you must put yourself in the shoes of your prospective visitors and future clients and see the internet through their eyes. Where do they usually go whenever they are looking up something on the web? The answer is the search engine; in fact, the two most popular websites on the web today are both search engines and portals. Thus, you should focus your internet marketing efforts on the search engine.
People will usually search for something using a search engine and click on the top results that these engines give. Therefore, you must use the right internet marketing tools to get a high search engine ranking. To gain a high ranking in search results, you can use several internet marketing tools. Search engine optimization is a set of methods that are aimed at improving the visibility of your site in search engine results. Since a search engine indexes sites by looking at its keyword density, your site's content must have favorable keyword density that is search engine friendly. Content is one of the most important internet marketing tools itself. If you have excellent content that is geared towards achieving a high search engine ranking as well as provide information then you can expect a high search engine ranking. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Countless other sites may be using the same internet marketing tools as you do. Thus, you must continuously find new ways of attracting more traffic.
Aside from the traditional marketing techniques such as print ads, billboards, brochures, testimonials, flyers etc. you must use other more effective internet marketing tools to gain more traffic. One of the most popular internet marketing tools today is the use of Pay per Click advertising. In this method, you will bid for a particular keyword in a specific search engine. If you have the highest bid then your sites link will be the top result. This internet marketing tool is now being used by thousands of sites. It is also gaining popularity because of its relatively high success rate in attracting high traffic.
A Great Business did not happen by accident.
It was marketed that way.
Sites Worth Finding is a simple way of searching for free information on a wide range of subjects; simply choose your search term and search below: