Marketing! Most businesses don’t have a clue.
Now that I’ve made enemies, let’s get into the nitty-gritty here.
Mar•ket•ing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.
Let’s simplify it even further: marketing, at the end of the day, is about making you more money. It’s about getting your product in front of more people – people who will want to buy it. It’s about creating brand awareness so people associate your brand with a specific feeling (more on this later).
The internet made the business a helluva lot easier to get into. So marketing is more important today than it’s ever been. Yet there are hardly any businesses doing marketing correctly. That is, marketing in a way that gains more long-term customers reaches new audiences, etc.
What I think is the root of the problem: the cookie-cutter approach to marketing. A business used strategy X to get 10,000 new customers. Great! Let’s ALL use that exact same strategy!
And it’s even worse. Because most people don’t even THINK about marketing. Instead, they follow the tried and true methods (SEO, PPC, Ad space, etc). Virtually all of these methods require money to get started, and they all have major downfalls. In fact, the majority of pay-to-play “marketing” is a losing battle for a small business.
Since you’re reading this article, you’re probably familiar with the world of online business. You’ve probably read hundreds of articles that teach specific techniques, or talk about how a business used a unique marketing strategy to great effect.
Ever read the comments for these articles? What do people want more than anything? A step-by-step guide to success.
Let me tell you a secret: THERE IS NO STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SUCCESS IN BUSINESS.
That’s because as soon as someone reveals a new method or idea, everyone jumps on board. Suddenly, that method or idea is completely worthless!
Business is a process of individualized creation. You must have the ability to think on your feet and come up with new marketing strategies on your own.
And believe it or not, this is easier than you might think. All you have to do is grasp a few basic ideas – ideas which I hope to provide in this very article!
But wait… didn’t I just say that ideas that are copied by a bunch of people are worthless? Yes, but this isn’t a technique or strategy. It’s a philosophy. You’ll see!
Since this is an article on marketing, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve already started a business, or you’re working with a business. Of course, before you started, you should’ve identified a need in the market – a need you could solve (or provide a MUCH better solution to what’s already out there).
If you haven’t done this, this could be why your marketing efforts are falling flat. Too often, people start businesses based on what THEY want to do. They don’t look at the market to see what people need.
Remember, marketing is about getting your product in front of people. And it’s about making sure they see your product in the light you want them to see it in. However, if you have a garbage product or something a hundred different businesses are already doing, it’s going to be a very tough sell.
You have nothing unique or valuable to offer with your product. So why the hell would someone buy it?
Here’s the secret about marketing: it starts with your product.
Because if you have a great product, people will want it. Remember, people LOVE to buy. People LOVE to buy potential solutions to their problems. Therefore, if you have an incredible product that solves a major problem, all you have to do is get it in front of people.
But if you have a bad product, there’s only one space where your marketing can have an effect: on perceptions.
With a bad product, your entire marketing campaign will need to be focused on preventing your customer from seeing your product’s flaws. This requires much more work, is much more expensive, and much less effective than simply starting with a fantastic product.
The first question to ask yourself is, “what do we do, and how does it directly benefit our customers?”
This will give you the main concept for your custom marketing plan.
For example, if you run a guitar strings company, the answer to the question could be, “we manufacture guitar strings that are more resilient and sound better. This benefits the customer because they can play longer and retain a great sound.”
For guitar players, both these features have obvious benefits. The more durable the string, the longer they last. However, with most guitar strings, the sound starts to decline after continued use. So if your strings didn’t do this, there’s another obvious benefit to the customer.
Now that you have a valuable product, the next step is to simply find exposure. This can be done in any number of ways:
• Find YouTube guitarists with consistent views in the thousands, ten thousand and hundred thousand. Send those guitarists free strings for a review.
• Submit an opinion piece to a local music magazine right before a big music festival, talking about the importance of guitar strings to the touring musician.
• Write an article called “the science of guitar strings”, including interesting details, history, and facts that very few people know. Then submit that to a blog that’s credible, has a large audience, and fits the angle of your article.
Where the first step of marketing is to find the perfect angle for your product, and how it solves a major NEED within the market, the next step is to figure out ways to get it in front of people. And believe us, this doesn’t cost nearly as much money as most people think!
Look at the above bullet points. As you can see, none of them come at a direct financial loss, besides giving away a handful of free strings. However, they all have massive potential for financial gain.
To get yourself thinking like this, first read our article on thinking outside the box. Then, impose limits on your brainstorming. Ask yourself, “how could I get this in the hands of customers if I couldn’t spend any money?”
Remember, in this process, controversy, hot topics, and interesting tidbits are your best friends. Constantly scan the web for controversy in your niche (note: this can be broad. For our guitar strings example, virtually any controversy in the music space would work).
Look within your manufacturing process to see if there are any interesting processes going on that the average joe wouldn’t know about.
Marketing, at the end of the day, SHOULD be easy. So the fact that so many people are clueless on how to do it shows where we’re at product quality-wise.
The key is to start with a fantastic product. Then you can simply start throwing different techniques out there. Look at the above examples again. If only one of those strategies worked and our product was amazing, it would start a snowball effect.
Why? Because one of our marketing methods would get our products in front of people. Some people would purchase the product. They would find out how incredible it is and start telling all their friends. And THAT is the best form of marketing – free, viral word-of-mouth marketing.
But it only comes when you start with a fantastic product.
So what if you don’t have a fantastic product, or you do but it’s the same as many other products being offered in your market? In this case, it’s either back to the drawing board, or making tweaks to angle it specifically at the NEEDS within your market.
Take SEO, for example. It’s no secret, there are TONS of SEO companies out there. So if you sell SEO, you’re one of the thousands.
In this case, the question to ask yourself is, “what problems do people currently have with outsourcing SEO?” Potential answers could be:
• SEO is expensive and doesn’t show results immediately
• SEO is a grey area right now and a lot of techniques hurt sites much more than help
• Business owners have been burned by SEO companies over and over again
By looking at these problems, we can start to find an angle. Okay, so it’s expensive and doesn’t show results immediately – is there any way we can offer SEO without charging until the site’s ranking?
SEO is a grey area right now, is there any way we can offer a guarantee that if the site falls off of Google, the customer will get some form of compensation?
Obviously these problems aren’t easy to overcome. But if you can figure out an angle to overcome them, you can gain viral traction in a “saturated” market.
The customer comes first. What are their needs? Find them, solve them, show them you’ve solved them.