chapter 8

HOW TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

With entrepreneurship on the rise, you need a strategy to separate yourself from the pack. If your company is new or just not getting as much business as you expected, you should look into marketing strategies. Even if your business is doing well, you should still implement some creative marketing campaigns to continue growing your customer base. This is where a marketing plan comes in.

Marketing is an umbrella term for a variety of communications that seek to sell a product or service. Its main goal is to persuade the intended audience to buy whatever you're selling. Marketing contains a wide variety of disciplines including advertising, market research, public relations, customer support, product pricing, distribution, media planning, sales strategy, and community involvement. But in most companies, the first two facets—advertising and market research—take up most of the marketing pie.

Market Research

Before you draft a marketing plan, it is important to ask yourself a few crucial questions:

  • What is your brand and what makes it unique?

  • Who are your target customers and what value do you provide them?

  • What are the primary interests and motivations of your customers?

  • Who are your competitors and what marketing tactics are they using?

  • What channels are available to help you communicate with your target customers?

Answering these questions can help you determine what types of marketing campaigns you should focus on moving forward.

As the title of this approach suggests, you need to do some research. For example, if you sell used textbooks you might want to know who buys them—college students or their parents? If the latter proves to be true in your research, then your marketing strategy will change drastically.

Advertising

In this day and age, there are many avenues to market your business. After you've learned more about your target demographic, you can select advertising mediums that will connect you with your intended audience.

For example, if you're selling used textbooks, your demographic is most likely college-aged students. If this is true, you should probably go through mediums that cater to this audience. For example, millennials are more likely to read news on the Internet. Instead of placing an advertisement in a local newspaper, you should think of posting one on a college-related website. This way, your advertisement will have a higher chance of being viewed by a potential customer.

In recent years, the playground for advertising has expanded dramatically. Before the digital age, advertisements were generally placed in newspapers, mail, billboards, television, and radio. Now, there are paid search advertisements (ads that appear on search engines), email marketing (ads that are placed in—you guessed it—emails), and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). After doing some research on your target audience, you can slim down this list of advertising mediums to choose what you think will work best for you.

Need some inspiration?

Here are some unique marketing strategies that companies have employed to gain more clients:

    In 1999, Half.com, a textbook rental company, saw an opportunity to partner with the town of Halfway, Oregon. CEO Joshua Kopel proposed that the town change its name to Half.com in exchange for company stock, Internet access, computers, and free giveaways. This out-of-the-box strategy worked and put the company on the map—quite literally. Months later, in 2000, the startup was purchased by eBay.

    Moral of the story: Creating business allies can be a powerful way to leverage your marketing plan.

    Diamond Candles shrewdly observed that nearly 98% of all home fragrances are bought by females. And what is a girl's best friend? Diamonds. Diamond rings, to be exact. Instead of a separate campaign, the company built marketing into its actual product—guaranteeing a hidden surprise in each product sold: a ring valued at $10, $100, $1,000, or $5,000. In 2003, it was recognized as one of the top e-commerce sites.

    Moral of the story: Your marketing campaign and your product are not mutually exclusive. Get out there and be creative!

    Monumenta, a Brazilian agency for Orca Chevrolet, saw an opportunity to personalize its advertising by targeting those whose cars had broken down. They partnered with a local tow company and offered a free lift home, allowing passengers to test out the Orca. This strategy proved to work, especially at a time when the passenger might be considering getting a new car.

    Moral of the story: Timing is absolutely crucial. Do some research and find trends, habits, and needs of your targeted audience.

Marketing Resources

To learn more about traditional marketing, check out this online course from the Wharton School of Business.

To learn more about online marketing, check out Hubspot's marketing library.

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