A Simple Guide To Small Business Marketing
Throwing money at an unplanned advertising campaign hoping your marketing message sticks is a waste of money. Spreading your marketing dollars all over the place and hoping it works is called a shotgun approach. What’s more effective is taking a targeted approach by researching and planning your marketing campaigns.
Taking a shotgun approach means you don’t get a return on your investment.
Because too often people confuse advertising, promotions, and selling with marketing.
For marketing campaigns to be effective, let’s look at the marketing bow tie.
The Marketing Bow Tie
The marketing bow tie will help you understand the difference between marketing and advertising and pin point where your customers come from.
The marketing bow tie is made up of seven segments, three on the left, three on the right with your brand, and positioning statement sitting in the middle.
On the left-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where you conduct your market research and choose the right customers to do business with.
The right-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where you create value, acquire new customers, and retain your existing customers.
Advertising fits into the right-hand side of the marketing bow tie under the segment, communicating value.
Choosing The Right Customers
Choosing the right customers to do business with is critical to the success of any business. It’s important that the products and services you offer meet the demands of your target market. It defines how, where, and when you will compete in the marketplace.
Defining The Market
Looking at the marketing bow tie from left to right, the first segment is where you define the market.
Firstly you want to determine the size, growth, trends, competitiveness, and attractiveness of the market you intend to operate in or, are already operating in. You don’t want to sell your products or services in a market that is shrinking or non-existent. You can – but that is another strategy all together and not covered in this post.
For maximum benefit, you want to position yourself strategically in the consumer’s mind and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Segmenting The Market
The next segment of the marketing bow tie is where you segment the market to further define who you want to do business with. Instead of taking a shotgun approach, you now begin to target your potential market with a telescopic lens.
You can’t be all things to all people so you need to examine the market more fully to determine the demographic, psychographic, motivational, and behavioral segments of the market. By segmenting the market in this fashion, it gives you a clearer view of the size, accessibility, and needs of your target market.
For instance, lawyers specialize; perhaps in family law, corporate law, environmental law, personal injury law, criminal law, and so on. This is known as segmentation.
In the hospitality industry, there are many ways to segment the market. Tourism operators, travel agents, accommodation providers, and food and beverage providers are all possible segments of the hospitality market. If you were to drill further down into the accommodation market, the segments might look like this:
- Serviced apartments
- Caravan Parks
Identifying Your Target Market
Once you have defined and segmented the market, it’s time to narrow down exactly who your target market is. Your target market will also depend on who else is competing in that space and the demand for your products or services. You want to identify the market that will be of most strategic value to you.
Using the accommodation segment of the hospitality industry as an example, the customers who are likely to stay in a five-star hotel are completely different from customers who are likely to stay in a backpacker establishment. A five-star hotel is likely to attract business people whereas backpackers are likely to attract students on a budget and of course your research would then inform how to approach your marketing efforts.
Your target market is where you direct your marketing resources and position your brand to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. You then match the services you offer to your target market and look to satisfy the needs of your potential customers.
Branding and Positioning
In the middle sits your brand and how you position your brand in the market. To keep it simple, imagine you were going to a printer to print some marketing collateral. Which two of the three do you want?
You can’t have all three for with quality you pay a higher price. For speed, you pay a higher price. Therefore, you would position yourself as a print business that either offers speed and price or quality.
Acquiring Growing and Keeping Customers
Unlike the left-hand side of the marketing bow tie which is all about market research, segmenting, and defining your target market, the right-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where the value process takes place.
Your value proposition identifies what is unique about your product or service offerings and why prospective customers should do business with you. The right-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where you acquire new customers and retain existing customers.
When you think about creating value, think about what products and services you will offer that is closer to your customer’s ideals over your competitors.
Have you heard of the radio station WIIFM – it stands for What’s In It For Me? The customer wants to know if they buy from you, what’s in it for them? What are the benefits they will receive from using your products and services?
Potential customers are constantly tuned into this radio station looking for the supplier who best matches their needs. Understanding your customers wants and needs helps you design appropriate marketing strategies that resonate with your target market. This also links back to your brand and how you position yourself in the market.
The middle section on the right-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where you communicate value to your target market. This is where advertising fits into the marketing bow tie and where most people confuse advertising and marketing as being one of the same thing. Advertising is only a component of marketing.
Advertising is only one of many strategies you can use to communicate value to your target market. Advertising is only one channel used to communicate value to your target market. Communicating value includes other channels such as your website, social media, promotions, public relations, touchpoint marketing (signage, vehicle, business cards, etc.), brochures, and personal selling including prospecting and networking.
The final segment of the marketing bow tie is how you deliver value. This is the actual delivery of your products and services after the customer has bought from you. Delivering value is about the quality, consistency, and sustainability of your business. It encompasses all aspects of customer service, after-sales service, and the ability to retain your customer’s loyalty.
Many people in business forget to marry all aspects of the marketing bow tie together, especially delivering value. There’s no point in having the most fantastic product or service in the world if you fail to continue to deliver value in the real world. If you don’t keep your customer base happy, you will lose them to your competitors. Research tells us, that it is six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Having an integrated customer service strategy is just as important as acquiring new customers.
Putting it Together
Putting it all together, you can see that the left-hand side of the marketing bow tie is all about choosing the right customers to do business with, where how, and when to compete in the market place. The right-hand side of the marketing bow tie is where you provide and communicate value to your customers and keep your customers happy.
Now that you understand the marketing bow tie, this will help you get more value for your marketing dollars?
The Value Proposition
Before you spend a penny on a marketing campaign, the first thing to do is to create a value proposition. A value proposition is a clear statement of what tangible results a prospective customer is likely to gain from using your products or services. It’s the promise of what value a prospect will receive if they buy from you.
Prospective customers don’t want your products or services, they want the benefits your products and services provide. Customers don’t buy insurance; they buy peace of mind. Customers don’t buy cosmetics; they buy how cosmetics makes them feel. Customers don’t buy a website, they buy a powerful communication tool where they can communicate value to their customers and prospective customers.
Your products or services will either take away the pain of a problem a customer is experiencing or they gain the rewards of an opportunity you are offering.
Create Buyer Personas
For your marketing efforts to be most effective, take the time to create buyer personas for your target market. A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer either based on market research and/or using real data from your current customer base. These fictional characters or personas, help you to identify and understand who your prospective customers are. They also help you understand if your current customers are right for you for if they are not, you could be sacrificing time and money in all the wrong places.
A buyer persona is not merely a description of your prospective customer, it’s a profile of your ideal customers. A buyer persona gives you insights into what your prospective customers may be thinking or doing and why they should buy from you.
Use the AIDA principle
When designing a marketing campaign, you need to know what your customer’s problems and opportunities are so that you can match the benefits your products and services provide.
Using the AIDA principle, what question could you ask that will attract the attention of your customers. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
In other words, you want to gain the attention of your buyer persona with an attention-grabbing headline. Secondly, you want to create further interest that relates back to the personas problems or opportunity followed by how your products and services will benefit them. Lastly, there must be a strong call to action. What do you want your prospective buyer to do?
- Call you on the phone
- Send you an email
- Visit your website
- Visit your place of business
Choosing the Marketing Channel
Not all marketing channels will suit different buyer personas. If you are targeting a specific age group, say 16-18 year-olds, you might look at social media to communicate your marketing messages. If you are targeting business to business, you might look at LinkedIn to communicate your marketing message. If you are targeting a more mature demographic, you might choose newspaper advertising or brochures to communicate your message.
The AIDA principle will help and guide you depending on the channel you use and the message you want to relay to your target market.
Measure Your Marketing Efforts
Finally, one of the most important things to do when embarking on a marketing campaign is to measure the effectiveness of that campaign. You want to gather feedback to measure the return on your investment. Using a company like Demand Jump will show you exactly how your marketing efforts are doing giving you the insights you need to create even more effective marketing campaigns.
For instance, if you were running an advertisement in the newspaper and your call to action is to call you, try setting up a different phone number from your mainline to measure how many inquiries you receive. If you call to action is to go onto your website, you can use google analytic to measure hits on your website around the time your marketing campaign went out.
If you were using Facebook to advertise and get your marketing message out, you can try split testing to see which adverts work better than others. You will also be able to measure the cost of acquiring a new customer.
Regardless of the message and the channel you use, always measure the results to inform future marketing campaigns to ensure you are spending your marketing dollars wisely.
On a final note
Conducting market research before you spend money on advertising results in a better return on investment. You do not have to do it alone. Hiring a business coach or consultant can help you eliminate the pitfalls of starting a business from scratch.
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