It is very rare for marketing to produce results by chance. Sometimes we get lucky, and a single campaign or activity increases our visibility or the number of leads. But the reality is that success is usually a result from a lot of work, decision-making, and learning.
This article discusses five things that will encourage you to do important background work before you start marketing your business.
Who is your customer?
Firstly, we must figure out who our target customers are and whom we try to convince. It can be helpful to determine the demographic characteristics, for example, by using customer personas.
Still, it is good to remember that people are always individuals. Demographic information does not necessarily tell you anything about their habits or behavior. My favorite example is how the Prince of Wales and the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, are strikingly similar demographically but otherwise bear little resemblance to each other.
The best way to find out who your customers are and what they want is, not so surprisingly, to ask them. Customer interviews and surveys are a great way to learn more about your customers and gain valuable insight. And don’t just interview the satisfied customers. Former customers will hold even more valuable information.
Another great source of customer understanding is the people who work with customers. Salespeople, customer service agents, and others who work on the front line with customers and answer their questions hold a lot of tacit, up-to-date information.
Things to ask your customers:
- What is the problem your customer is looking to solve?
- Which channels your customers use to find information?
- Where does your customer spend their time?
- Why did your current customers buy from you?
- What are the things that convince them to trust the company and buy?
Keep in mind that customer insight study is not a one-time thing, customers and their needs change, and we need to keep up to date with them.
What are your competitors doing?
Market research and competitor analysis are essential tools when building a new business, but they also provide helpful information when working with our marketing strategy. The easiest way to start is by browsing competitors’ websites, social media channels, newsletters, and other marketing communications. This gives us an insight into what they are doing, what tactics they are using, and what message they are using to approach customers.
If you want to dive deeper, you can use various digital tools to find out what keywords your competitors use and how they rank in search engines. You can use this information to build your digital footprint, especially if you are building a digital business, and consider which keywords are important for your business.
Think about how you could always do things a little better than your competition.
What makes your business unique?
Why should your target customers buy from you instead of a competitor? It’s easy to list product features and prices, but they are rarely the only reasons people base their decisions.
I think it is important to remember that thinking about differentiation and competitive advantage cannot be left to marketing alone. It is something that a company needs to think about in terms of its overall strategy. The important task for marketing is to shape it into a message that is easy for potential customers to understand and to ensure that the message is consistent across all marketing communications.
What is your business trying to achieve through marketing?
What your marketing strategy will look like depends a lot on what you are trying to achieve. If you ask the management team, the answer is simple: more sales. Increasing sales is undoubtedly something all businesses are after (or at least should be), but to achieve more sales, we need to set goals that drive our actions in the right direction.
You’ve probably heard of the so-called SMART goals. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By structuring our targets in this way, we focus on what’s important, leave no room for guesswork and make it easier for ourselves to track progress.
Examples of marketing objectives:
- The increase in the number of website visitors within a given period.
- An increase in the number of sales qualified leads within a certain period of time.
- The number of e-book downloads.
- Ranking in search engine results with selected keywords.
What kind of skills and resources do you have in your company?
It is a typical situation, especially in smaller companies, that the founder doubles as the marketing team. It is, therefore, only natural that marketing is not a priority and usually lacks consistency.
Sometimes we’re lucky enough to find a generalist marketer (a unicorn, really) who can take marketing drive strategically and master all types of content and channels. But to be honest, this is rarely the case.
It is more typical to find people within a company who are experts in one area of marketing but who, for one reason or another, are not able to take over the whole marketing function. Therefore we should be realistic about what we can do ourselves and what we should buy from specialists outside our company.
Remember, marketing is all about testing things out and learning
Marketing is never ready; we need to keep testing, measuring, failing, and learning to get results. Sometimes it can feel frustrating or a waste of resources, but if we can start small enough and grow it as we learn, we are on the right track. So commit to being consistent but be prepared to make changes whenever you learn more!