Some people often confuse marketing and advertising, but they’re actually two different things. Advertising involves simply placing an advertisement of your product or services online (on websites and via social media), in magazines, on billboards, or any of the other places you see paid ads. Marketing is a much broader and more active method of getting attention from your target audience. According to Investopedia, marketing involves any activity associated with buying and selling a product or service. So, exactly what activities does marketing entail and why should you consider it for your business?
Why Marketing Is Essential
In the sea of other businesses out there competing for the same customers in the same location, it’s difficult to be seen and heard, especially if you’re not marketing yourself. These days, the “build it and they will come” mentality just isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to be proactive when it comes to building your business and getting new customers. Marketing your business is essential if you want to get your products and/or services noticed by the right people — those who’d want to spend their money for whatever you’re selling.
How It Works
Many small businesses start out by creating a marketing plan that they use to guide their decisions about how often they’ll market, the channels they’ll use to reach their target audience, and other pertinent information related to their marketing activities. This marketing plan will usually define a company’s target audience as well as the best places to reach them.
Detailed marketing plans include buyer personas: profiles of your target audience, including specific details like their age, occupation, family and marital status, likes and dislikes, and other details. It may also include a mission statement, situation analysis, and pricing strategy.
If you want to compete, you’ve got to have a marketing plan of your own. Start thinking about your target audience and where you can connect with them online.
What Marketing Does for Your Business
Your marketing efforts can affect your sales, pricing, and your advertising strategy. You therefore need to use your marketing strategy to continuously promote your services. Ever heard the phrase "out of sight, out of mind"? In business, no words could ring truer. If you're not constantly creating a presence in your industry, you're missing out on potential sales. Using content marketing, you can:
- Build credibility and establish authority
- Improve brand awareness
- Drive traffic to your website (improving lead generation)
- Increase overall visibility
- Help build trust and loyalty with customers and prospects
- Help build long-lasting relationships with your target customers
- Allow your customers to move more easily through the customer journey to make a purchase
Content marketing is one of the most affordable yet powerful types of marketing out there these days.
Marketing Endeavors Your Small Business Can Undertake
If you think you need an unlimited marketing budget to compete, think again. These days, smaller businesses are finding ways to get around the “it takes money to make money” mentality, and are actually coming out on top. There are dozens of ways you can market your business even on a shoestring budget. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Create and Maintain a Social Media Presence: Creating a presence on social media allows you to connect with your audience in an authentic way and to see what kind of things they’re talking about, what they’re interested in, and what they’re buying. Social media marketing, when implemented correctly, can provide a ton of website traffic and even more conversions. It can also provide a point of contact between you and your current customers and prospects.
- Publish and Share Valuable Content: Effective marketing includes publishing and sharing valuable content that your readers would appreciate. Find articles, videos, and other types of content relevant to your industry and start sharing. Remember to share a variety of content to keep your page fresh.
- Hold Contests and Giveaways: Contents and giveaways are a great way to introduce your company to your prospective customers. Once you capture their information, you can add it to your email list so that you can potentially sell to the people that enter your contest in the future.
- Create Your Own DIY Infographics: Infographics have become powerful marketing tools, because they provide digestible chunks of information in a concise and visually pleasing package. Infographics can teach people how to do something in just a few short steps using images, words, and symbols.
- Use Guerrilla Marketing: Guerrilla marketing strategies are often easy and cheap to implement. A compelling example of guerrilla marketing is using an abandoned storefront as a canvas for street art. The key for this kind of marketing is to find ways to be creative that doesn’t cost much — or anything at all. Guerrilla marketing is more about creativity than budget. Brainstorm some ideas for your own guerrilla marketing campaign; you just might create a buzz big enough to draw some serious attention to your business.
- Offer Free Products or Services: The principle of reciprocity works well for marketing. The idea is this: you provide something to your prospects free of charge in the hope they’ll want to give something to you in return one day, hopefully in the form of a purchase. The most successful marketers capture emails and give their subscribers the free product afterward. The prospect gets free valuable information and you get their contact information so that you can email them in the future about any sales, discounts, or other promotions you have going on. Do be sure, however, that you’re compliant with local laws and regulations on capturing emails for marketing purposes.
Now that you’re aware of the importance of marketing for your small business, you can start crafting a marketing strategy that helps you draw in web traffic, increase conversions, and capture leads. In order to see your business truly thrive, you need to start marketing on a regular basis by using one of the above (or similar) methods.