Offering a great product, service or value is not enough. If no one know about you, it doesn’t matter how much value you create, you’ll never attract paying customers. Successful businesses figure out how to attract the attention of their target customers and get them interested. Those people are better known as “prospects”, or prospective customers, and without them you won’t sell anything, and the business will fail.
Marketing is an art (creative, inspired) as well as a science (data and strategy-driven), a well-designed process of finding and attracting prospects. The quicker and cheaper you can do this, and the more prospects you will attract, and the better for your business. Marketing is not the same as selling. It’s about getting noticed, appealing to a customer’s needs, wants and emotions. Selling is about actually closing the deal (or sale). Before going any further, if you haven’t already defined your target customer – who they are, where they live, what they earn, what makes them tick – then do that first. Without understanding who you’re trying to reach, marketing is useless.
There is a famous quote that says, “Methods are many, but principles are few”. So if you master the principles, you can try all of the methods. Many people think of marketing as social media ads, billboard promotions or Youtube. But these are methods. Marketing is driven first by core principles (or strategies), and then implemented through various methods like the ones mentioned.
Core principles of marketing include:
Know your target customer: who is the person best suited to what you’re offering. Take the time to research and define this person in detail. Understand their receptivity – how open is your customer to hearing about your messaging, when is the best time to deliver this message, and what is the best way to communicate with them.
People have limited attention. It’s your responsibility to market your business in a way that competes successfully for your customer’s attention. This isn’t about making the most “noise” possible. Rather, it’s about reaching your customer in an effective manner. To this end, is your message unique? Having a remarkable offering makes it way easier to get your customer’s attention. The best way to communicate your message is through a Hook – a single attention-grabbing sentence that communicates the benefit of what you’re offering. Take the necessary time to create something unique, it will form the mainstay of your brand and messaging.
The best way to get your customers attention is to appeal to their feelings – such as curiosity, surprise or concern. This is why most marketers choose to use emotive images, sounds or messaging. The intention is to provoke a feeling of desire in your prospects.
Customers are less interested in the core functions of your offering, and more focussed on the experience, fulfilment or emotion that it gives them – e.g.) The need to acquire, to be loved, to solve a problem, to know more, to protect themselves etc.
If you want to attract attention quickly, give something of value away for free. But, make sure that your business can afford to do so.
Know your objectives. Whilst the end goal is always sales, the agenda of your marketing efforts isn’t always so direct. Sometimes, marketing is used to build your brand and image, explain your “why” and then only convert your prospects to customers. Remember, most customers love to buy, but dislike being sold to.
In an ever-changing world, where customers are becoming ever conscious about their data and privacy, permission-first marketing is important. Customers hate unsolicited emails, calls, texts – and telemarketing or bulk emailing is becoming less effective and popular as a result.
Accompany your marketing messaging with a call to action. Grabbing attention is only effective if your prospects take a desired action.
Market in ways that you can measure. People often believe that effective marketing is all about budget – the more you spend, the better it gets. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While exposure helps, as a start-up or new business it is important that you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Do not just spend blindly. Thankfully, there are many tools – like social media – that allow you to understand the reach, engagement and effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Mediums like radio, newspaper and television are much more complicated to assess.
No marketing budget can fix a bad reputation. If the quality of your service or product fails to meet your customers’ expectations, you will pay a heavy price on your reputation. Be sure to treat customers like gold and make sure that you deliver what you promise.
The “5 P’s” principle: This a principle that outlines the basic features of any marketing plan – Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People – which are as much features of your business plan as they are components of a marketing strategy. In order to be successful you need the right combination of a desirable product, sold at an appealing price, in the right location, using effective promotional methods. For most non-digital products, the right person promoting the product is important.
Your marketing strategy will rely heavily on your business plan and research. Primarily, you’ll need to define who you are marketing to (who is your perfect customer), what message will they resonate with (the best thing about your service, in language that they will understand), you will need to decide on where/how you will find or you reach them (what are the right channels).
Methods to consider in promoting your business:
Be active on social media. Be sure to setup accounts on the social media channels that best appeal to your audience – not all of them do. They take advantage of the many social media creation, research and scheduling tools available online.
Get noticed on Google. Through getlion’s partnership with Africa118, you can register for your Google My Business Profile for free. Having a certified online presence is non-negotiable in today’s day and age.
Use SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the science of using data and keywords to ensure that you rank on the top of a Google Search. While there are many things you can do yourself to optimize your website’s SEO – we recommend using our professional in-app SEO partner.
Use content marketing. Writing blogs or reviews is an effective way to get noticed online, and establish your credibility in an area.
Send Emails. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your prospects. But, this is a crowded space and it is tough to compete for your customer’s attention. Use this strategically and ensure that your customers opt-in for this marketing.
Use Social Proof. There is very little marketing as effective as social reviews. Where possible, get your customers to review your product or service and post these accounts on your website and social media.
Giveaways/promotions. Discounted pricing or special offers can creating urgency or excitement around your product/service and appeal well to the wants of your customers.
Networking. Build relationships with other people that could assist you in promoting your business. By leveraging their connections, you could reach your target customers more effectively.
PR. Public Relations are good for your business’s exposure, but can be expensive. Don’t place too much emphasis on this too early. Rather build a product that gets people talking. PR will follow.
Advertising. Often used interchangeable as a term for marketing itself, advertising is a paid method of promoting your business or offering across various channels. This can be an effective means of reaching your desired audience (radio, TV campaigns etc) but can come at a greater cost. It is also one of the most difficult forms of marketing to measure.
Marketing takes time and testing. As you grow your business over time, you will identify the ways that yield the best sales results.