Creating great content
Simple as that
Marketing is such a broad term. In essence, a business owner is asking “How can I reach the most qualitative audience for the least amount of money.”
Due to the plurality of directions a marketing plan can go I will attempt to set a couple guidelines since it would be a fool’s errand to just list a few “essential steps” as is so common on the web. In the modern marketing industry you must utilize a variety of tools such as social media, online ads, viral marketing, and plain old pen and paper. You must also have metrics in order to know empirically that you are actually creating value. If there was a number one rule to marketing I would venture to say that it is to know why you are doing something based on data. Fortunately, that has never been so easy as it is now with the abundance of research tools including Google Analytics.
A couple guidelines
First, you should establish what your product or service actually is. Write down the best characteristics of your service and then try to discern if it is really all that different from your competition. A product or service that really does stand apart from the rest makes marketing that much easier. If your product is very similar to your competitors then you need to rethink your approach or perhaps what you are offering.
Next, make sure you know what the value of your competition’s service actually is as well. It is hard to admit sometimes, but it is possible that your product or service is lacking in one way or another to your competitors. If that is the case then you need to take note of in what areas they are doing well and where they fall short. Do you see a vacuum? Or do they have an effective corner on the market? Knowing thy enemy is also knowing thyself. If you can accurately evaluate your product against your competitors then you are in a great position to begin marketing the best characteristics of your service. Going head to head with a competitor will detract from your overall appeal because you will be fighting for the same keywords, the same imagery, and run the risk of being ‘lumped together’. Whereas a company or product that can create its own niche creates staying power and therefore can make their marketing budget go farther.
Understanding what your product or service truly is helps you identify the behavior and personality of your customers. Knowing who your customers are can help you convince them that they not only want your product, but they need your product. Demonstrating the value of your product is a large part of marketing. If a Philadelphia based catering company wants to sell more wedding packages then they need to convince soon to be brides and grooms that they are getting not only a great value, but a better value than the alternatives can provide.
If we look at this scenario a bit further we can begin defining ‘customer groups’. Customers in the wedding industry come from different economic backgrounds, they may also have certain cultural requirements and perhaps different preconceptions of how a wedding should be run. In addition they may not know what is needed to create a wedding. Like most industries a customer may need to be educated on the subject.
Not only should you provide different approaches for customers with differing levels of budgeting but you need to define what is the value of your service to them. Value is relative to the individual. Marketing requires due diligence and extensive research. Having your hand on the pulse of your industry can help you shape these marketing packages. You may feel that you know what a customer is looking for but you need to know through data how they found your website or product and then use this data to optimize your future marketing efforts.
As the marketer you need to gauge what your competition is offering in order to create a profile of what your customers are expecting while they are researching the market as well. If every caterer is offering a wedding at $80 per head then you need to either lower your numbers without conceding any packaged goods or find a way to entice the buyer into paying more for your service because of what makes your service unique. Your job is to create a sense of urgency. Your goal is to encourage a customer to feel confident in their purchase.
In order to understand your audience you must figure out what they are willing to spend, what they expect in return, and how you can convince them that your product goes beyond their expectations. You must get to know your consumer.
Now that you understand what your product is and who is looking to buy it you will then need to decide the scope of your market.
In my opinion there are two main groups, static and dynamic. A static group refers to a group by region. If you are a local group that only sells within a specific region then you are considered a static market. A Philadelphia catering company only has a range of roughly 100 miles that they will provide service. Trying to access a broad audience for “catering” outside of that 100 mile radius will prove to be difficult if not cost prohibitive, not to mention fruitless because the company will not travel beyond the radius. A local business marketing plan will do better targeting a particular set of area codes, cities, counties and perhaps a singular region.
A dynamic market has no physical boundaries and is trying to reach consumers based on their interest in the product alone. A shoe accessory thrift shop with an online store does not care as much about targeting specific area codes but more so cares about keywords and reaching the widest audience for the least amount of money.
Deciding where your audience is will help you figure out how to convert them into buying customers.
Now you know what your product is, who wants it, and where they are. But the catch is, your competitors probably know this too. So we now face an imperative. It isn’t why, who, or where, but how you market your service. Language is the expression of ideals, but what does your usage of language say about you? It is critical to avoid language that is inflammatory, narcissistic, excessive or hyperbolic. Advertising as the “best” in your niche is a waste of printable space. Opinionated self assertions such as “greatest” or “number one” is easily dismissed by your readers. It is unsubstantial and does motivate a potential customer to value your product. It also doesn’t pique interest nor does it differentiate your product from anyone else. Claiming to be the best is the easiest way to appear mediocre.
By taking the list of values that you wrote earlier on in this article you can market you best qualities by asserting empirical facts. If you are a metropolitan bakery with the only lavender and strawberry donuts in town then use this distinction to your advantage. If your deli is a better value because it has an exclusive contract with a name brand meat provider then you have a marketable product that people desire. Finding what makes you unique is half the legwork while communicating these qualities is the clincher that can make or break a marketable company. If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to contact me with the form below.