by Niki Tudge
What Is Marketing?
The purpose of a business is to create and maintain satisfied and profitable customers. Customers are attracted and retained when their needs are met. This is a function of marketing. Marketing is often confused with the simple act of selling or simply the activity of increasing your business sales. However, marketing is very different to sales. If you market effectively the end result is an increase in your sales, but that’s not all there is to it. Marketing is far more detailed that just sales. In simple terms marketing is the channel we use to grab our prospect clients’ attention and then carefully guide them into our sales funnel so we can manage and expedite a sale. The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large”(AMA 2013). A prospect client is someone who has the ability, willingness and interest to buy your products or services.
In today’s world marketing is no longer just a business function or a series of activities you complete on a daily or monthly basis. Marketing is a complete approach, it is a philosophy and it guides your way of thinking and acting toward your clients. The marketing role covers many different tasks and duties. In large companies marketing departments can employ multiple if not hundreds of people and they are headed up by senior personnel of the organization. As a small business owner you are responsible for the marketing activities of your pet business. You set the philosophy and the strategic direction and you oversee all of the activities to ensure your marketing is successful. In many situations marketing is often the first step in building relationships with your clients. Your marketing approach is one of the key drivers behind developing, building and sustaining your brand recognition.
Another point of confusion for people is that marketing is not selling. Selling is a tool in the marketing equation. People often confuse the act of marketing with the act of selling because both involve the act of interesting customers so they purchase your product. Selling occurs when the customer actually purchases the product or service. Marketing is the art of grabbing the potential customer’s attention to hopefully lead to a purchase. The goal of marketing is to leave an impression on the consumers, making your brand more recognizable and memorable to them. The key to marketing is providing knowledge about your company, products, services or brand. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition. The more customers know about your brand, the more desirable the end sale becomes to them.
Branding is about:
- Connecting with customers: Reach customers on a personal level with different marketing methods.
- Anticipating needs: Use client feedback and research to keep up with our industries market trends.
- Be consistent: Always be consistent in your image, product, and customer service. Protect your brand.
Understanding Your Client’s Needs, Wants & Demands
Marketing is not for the impatient, sometimes it can take multiple touch points over a period of time to reach and engage a client. Since marketing is about bringing clients to you company then you need to understand your customers’ needs and wants. Remember, your customers are your target audience, and you must address their needs and desires directly. You cannot market a dog training service to a cat owner!
Humans have many complex needs. These include basic physical needs for food, clothing warmth and safety. Social needs include a feeling of belonging, affection, fun, and relaxation. Esteem needs incorporate prestige, recognition and fame and individual needs are cover knowledge and self-expression. So human needs come in many different packages. Wants are how people communicate their needs. When customers have buying power then wants become demands.
To Market Effectively You Must Understand:
- What does your customer want?
- What does your customer need?
- How will they benefit from our services and products?
- What makes the customer want to buy from you?
- The difference between your customer’s needs, wants and demands
You Cannot Market What You Don’t Understand!
Before you can begin to market your company’s product or service, you must define what they are and what they can do for the client. Your products and services are what your companies offers to the public. You cannot market your product or services if you cannot first identify what they are, both the core products and the secondary benefits. I recommend that you start with a list of all your services and products and then begin outlining their specific characteristics. Identify each of their pros and cons. Analyze how each service or product can benefit the client and what each service or product offers the client once they have purchased it. What is its value? What would the customer be willing to do to access each product or service? These pieces should bring the product puzzle together and help you to achieve a clear picture of what your company is offering. In some cases, as a result of this exercise, you may conclude that you need to reevaluate your current product or service offerings.
Product Knowledge is Critical to Marketing Effectiveness:
- Know all aspects of your product or service, product knowledge is king
- What does it offer the consumer?
- Define its qualities and benefits.
- Determine who your target audience would be.
In summary, know who your prospects are and have a strong knowledge of your services and products. Then you can accurately determine your clients’ needs and you can more effectively market to them. Effective marketing drives business growth!
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