Small business owners: Don’t start the new year behind. Take a tip from big companies.…
Marketing isn’t something you do. It’s the way you approach your business. In fact, marketing should be the guiding force of your business. You as CEO of your company need to be thinking about marketing. All. The. Time. This is the marketing mindset.
In the most basic sense, marketing is how your product or service meets the market. At its best, marketing is predictive, interactive and responsive.
Think about the marketing greats of the past, people like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. Those guys had a vision. They engineered revolutionary products and then made us believe we needed them. They were innovators who anticipated – even created – demand. And they succeeded. Ultimately, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs changed the way we live. That’s marketing genius.
Think about Oprah Winfrey, the brand, and the empire she’s built from her beginnings as a TV reporter in Baltimore. Many have successfully followed her example, but Oprah still reigns as Queen of Branding.
So how’d they do it? Did they spend all day every day posting on Facebook about cars or iPods or a talk show? Nope.
What you probably think of as marketing – social media, email blasts, your website, SEO, advertising, brochures – it’s all tactical. Those are marketing activities. Most businesses jump straight into the marketing activities without a plan, which can easily result in wasted time and money. And it can be ineffective. You’re much more likely to succeed if you make a plan.
Strategy comes first. And branding. Once you know who you are, how you’re going to differentiate your offering in the marketplace, and have goals and metrics in place, then you can make a tactical plan.
So what’s a marketing strategy? It’s how you position yourself relative to other businesses that offer the same thing. Your intent is to gain market share – your piece of the pie – in a competitive environment.
Strategy includes your vision, market research, demographics, psychographics, competitive analysis, measurable goals, differentiation and positioning, messaging, your unique selling proposition, the needs you fill, the pain points you address, the tangible benefit to the customer or client. It’s a lot. And it’s important. Taking the time to do your homework and plot a strategy greatly increases your chance of success. It’s how big companies get to be big.
A marketing strategy isn’t a once-and-done process. Marketing-minded business owners adapt continuously to changing market conditions. 2020 taught us that in a big way. How did your marketing strategy shift in response to the pandemic?
What about branding?
Again, what you think of when we say “brand” probably doesn’t match up with what marketing people say it is. Things like a company’s name, logo, tagline, fonts, colors, product packaging, space design and uniforms are visual representations of the brand. They are not the brand itself.
Your brand is the essence of your business. Who you are in the marketplace. What you stand for. How people perceive you. Your values. Your relationships with customers and vendors. All of that adds up to your brand. Define and cultivate your brand so you stand out from the crowd. This is part of the strategy, too.
Finally, the tactics.
Tactics are the implementation stage of a well thought out, strategic marketing plan. Tactics are activities like websites, SEO, email marketing, advertising, social media and promotional videos. Deciding which of these to do, when and what budget to apply in order to reach your target market are all part of the tactical plan.
Strategy drives tactics. Whether you’re starting a business, growing an existing one or pivoting, be sure to start with a plan.
- Adopt a marketing mindset.
- Create a short- and long-term plan.
- Budget 6%-20% of your projected gross income for marketing.
- Establish meaningful metrics.
- Be responsive to changing market conditions.
If you need help with this disciplined, intentional and highly creative method of marketing your business, get in touch to schedule a complimentary consultation. More marketing tips and a checklist for 2021 here.