Here are 10 fundamental concepts you need to understand as you get started marketing your business.
#1. You’re Sold
You have an inspiring idea. That’s the start.
This means one thing: you’ve identified the problem and sold yourself on your solution.
You have to believe in your business idea. If you don’t feel this way – intensely – keep working on it. There’s nothing harder than trying to sell a solution in search of a problem.
And remember this. If you’re sold, at this point you’re the only one (your mom, spouse, or buddy after a few beers don’t count).
You believe. But there is still a huge gap between selling yourself and selling to customers.
#2. Discover Your Audience
You’re convinced. Now you have to reach an audience big enough to make you financially viable.
As you’re starting, go ahead with your intuition. Visualize your audience using assumptions. Picture a person buying from you.
Imagine, as best you can, how they got to the moment when they broke out their credit card. Detail their feelings, motivation, and sense of satisfaction after you’ve solved their problem.
This imaginary person is your buyer persona.
Next, start researching to get real responses and data on your idea. Ask friends and others you meet, particularly if they fit your demographic or interest base.
Try Facebook Audience Insights and a keyword research tool. Find out who people are following and what they’re searching for.
Gather data on your potential audience. Get to know their fears and embrace their objectives. Apply it to your assumptions and clarify the view of who you’re trying to reach.
#3. Know Your Channels
You need to familiarize yourself with the marketing channels you’ll use to connect with your audience.
These include your website, social media, and search campaigns. They may include offline efforts like networking or print media.
Picture your offer and the audience you’re trying to reach. The marketing channels you’ll use are the bridge between the two.
It’s worth it to be aware of all the available channels, but also try to get a sense of what will work best for your business and where your audience tends to be.
#4. Winning Attention
You have to make your offer known to your audience. The first step will be to catch their attention. This is a big challenge.
Consider all the things tugging at people, vying for their attention. Somehow you have to rise above this and get them to cast their eyes on you.
Just showing up isn’t enough. You need to entice people with content that makes an instant connection.
Consider the things people will see first like your ad headlines, logo, homepage/landing page layout and product images.
You have just a few seconds to catch and hold their attention. How will you draw people in?
It’s a big victory to get a potential client’s attention, but it’s only one step – and not one that usually results in a purchase.
Instead, you have to maintain awareness and build affinity for your brand.
People today deal with an onslaught of content. When they make a purchase, it’s from a brand they’ve become aware of over time. They feel a connection – a kind of lifestyle affinity – for this brand.
Think about how you can use the internet to tell your story to prospects in a way that’s both familiar and memorable.
By the time most people actually buy from you, they’ll know you by name.
#6. Competitive Value
You sold yourself on your offer, but have you really compared it to your competition?
What options do your prospects have? Do you communicate a clear reason why you’re the best choice?
Outline your value proposition and be clear about what distinguishes your offer. If you can’t give people an excellent reason to go with you, they won’t.
The benefits people gain from your offer is the central message of your marketing – the theme of your story. It should guide how you write ads, develop headlines, create calls to action, and describe your services.
Before you create any marketing material, you need an idea of what you’ll say based on knowing who you’re talking to.
You sold yourself – but your customers need to know what’s in it for them. The way you communicate value is how you sell everyone else.
Consider what you love about your offer, who your audience is, and who you’re competing against.
How will you persuade people to act? What’s the tone of your message? Do you need to educate people so they’ll understand the value of your offer?
How will you overcome hesitation? What are the major objections people might have that could derail your sales?
It’s not enough just to be there, build an affinity with your audience, or even communicate value with clarity. If you can’t convince them to act, you won’t make any money.
You can do everything we just listed perfectly, but if anything in your marketing is eroding people’s trust, you’ll lose the deal.
Consider your customer service and staff. How can you deliver sterling service that blows people away? Can you take a short term loss to fix a problem so it doesn’t cost you long term?
Is your approach customer-centric, or are you really just thinking about your bottom line?
Trust is intangible yet vital in business marketing. It’s an underlying concern with everything in not just your marketing strategy, but your business plan as a whole.
Congrats! You put yourself out there and closed deals. You have satisfied customers who trust your work.
Now, how can you get them to become advocates for your business? How can you ensure they’ll tell their friends about you and write positive reviews?
How will you offer more value to the communities you serve and enhance your offers to keep customers coming back? How will you stay ahead of new competition that’s looking take your customers?
Businesses that stay in business reach a critical moment when self-generating customer advocacy becomes central to their marketing. Buzz creates more buzz, popularity leads to more popularity.
To reach this moment, you have to understand and execute everything on this list.
#10. Keep Building
A wise marketer recently said:
If failure is not an option then, most of the time, neither is success.
You may have an innovative idea that will create a shift in the marketplace. Or, you may be jumping headfirst into a competitive, crowded market, determined you can deliver something superior to your competition.
Either way, you’re taking a risk. Embrace this and let it motivate you.
Along the journey we’ve outlined, you’ll gather data that helps you understand how your audience reacts to your content. Use it to refine your materials and message.
Data doesn’t predict the future, but it allows for informed assumptions and practical risk-taking.
Tactically, more and more marketing execution is being automated. This means your competitive advantage lies in what we’ve outlined here, not in your ability to manipulate advertising platforms and technology.
Keep learning. Marketing and advertising are dynamic in the extreme. Change is constant. This list is based on marketing constants, but that bridge you build between your offer and your customers is never really finished.
Here’s more material (with greater detail) on topics that are fundamental to marketing a business. Before you invest in marketing, make sure you have a firm understanding of these concepts.