While doing marketing research on my own and exploring offering it as a service to business owners that want to focus on their craft, I once heard from a fellow entrepreneur that they don’t really have the complete understanding of running their business… let alone, marketing their brand.
As an experienced marketer, I gave this some serious consideration — being that I fully understand the importance and value that marketing has on the success of any business, no matter the size. A well-stated quote in an article on Techfunnel.com entitled “Marketing Impact On Business” states, “Marketing doesn’t just impact a business- it is the function that saves a business from closing down.”
The insight that I received while doing my own marketing research makes sense when you understand that 30% of small businesses fail by the second year, and why 80% of black-owned businesses fail in the first 18 months (cnbc.com: “Why Black-owned Businesses Are Struggling To Stay Afloat”).
Investopia defines marketing as the activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing is the strategies and tactics to enable you to hit your sales target. Marketing supports your sales goals. Marketing creates awareness and interest to your target audience about the goods and services you are selling. It encompasses many areas and types from email marketing, search engine marketing, digital marketing, and inbound and outbound marketing just to name a few. When done correctly, marketing makes selling easier and quicker. This strategy informs your target audience about your goods and services, how it meets and solves their problem or need, has trust built in the results, and helps them see the value in paying the price associated.
Marketing is a discipline, though the world tends to simplify its importance and complexity. Part of what makes marketing complex but a bit intimidating is that it is subjective; to begin with, there is little black and white to it. It’s pretty grey, to be honest. I have long said that marketing is the perfect blend of science and art. Art because it’s subjective. What resonates with one person or group of people may not with another. The science comes in hopefully with the methodology that is used. When done correctly, the strategy, messaging, targeted audience, branding, etc., all of which are part of marketing, has to be decided with some research, analysis, and understanding of the needs, wants, and problems of the market.
To demystify what marketing is there are four key components to the original marketing mix; though I take my clients through 6 – I add two that are critical, especially as an entrepreneur or small business owner. The key components of marketing, often referred to as the marketing mix, are product, price, place, and promotion. Every product or service no matter how large the company’s size includes these four.
Here is a brief overview of each:
Product or Service: this is the actual “thing” that you are selling. When a sales transaction takes place this is what the customer/client receives in exchange for providing currency. This is your “craft”. However, your product/service goes far beyond the “thing” that you sell. It includes the packaging that it comes in, your branding, and the experience that they have with you. Yes, customer service, it’s part of what you are selling and your process is how easy it is if for them to do business with you to complete the transaction.
The product/service that you sell also needs to solve a specific problem or need that your target audience has. The better it solves their situation, the more valuable that product/service is to them; which means they are more willing to pay in alignment with the results. In addition to solving a specific problem/need, it also needs to stand out from the competition. What’s different about your product or experience that would make someone choose you over someone else?
Price: Your pricing includes the dollar value you assign to your product and service. To be a profitable business owner, your price needs to include your expenses; otherwise, if you are priced below your expenses, you won’t make enough revenue to keep you in business. Your price must also be aligned with the value that your clients/customers place on the product/service that you are offering; otherwise, they won’t pay for it.
Many businesses miss the importance of this piece because they don’t understand their target audience. You cannot charge a JCPenney’s shopper Sak’s 5th Ave prices. No matter how much they may like the product, they won’t see its value, especially if they can’t afford it. You also cannot charge a Sak’s 5th Ave shopper JCPenney prices because while they can clearly afford it, the product and experience won’t be to the quality and level that they are expecting and willing to pay to have.
Your price must also include if and when you discount your product/service, how often you discount, and by how much. Walmart has sales all the time; Louis Vuitton doesn’t, if ever. A little-known fact when pricing your items is that consumers tend to pick the item in the middle. If you have three products or services that each pretty much meet the same need, consumers will tend to pick the one in the middle.
No one wants to seem cheap or expensive. For this reason, one tactic often used is the product that businesses really want to sell is initially price it in the middle of their offerings.
Place: Location, Location, Location! This refers to the places that you sell your product and services. If you are selling your products in a store, this also includes the placement on the shelf and in other prime locations such as in the window, on an endcap, or a display in the middle of the aisle. As a rule of thumb, you always want to strive to have your product placed at eye level and in the middle. Place can also include product placements. If you give a presentation, do a talk of any sort, and are allowed to bring your product with you, have it in visible places while speaking as long as it doesn’t take away from your presentation. The same goes if you go live on social media, or do a recorded video. In addition, pay attention to the placement of your products on your websites. Items that you want to have more attention placed on them should be above the fold.
Promotion: This is where most people tend to focus and is often the most fun. However, it should come after you have figured out and adequately aligned the previous three Ps to your business objectives and strategy. Promotion is the communication of your product/service. This includes advertising and your strategy (i.e. social media posts).
There are so many promotional strategies that you can use to help you reach your revenue goals and increase awareness. Social media tends to be one that many focus on especially now.Which makes total sense “3.6 billion people use social media and this number is expected to grow to 4.41 billion by 2025.” (Sproutsocial.com – “36 Essential social media marketing statistics to know for 2021”) While its great, there are some fundamental limitations. The first being that while you control the content that is shared, for the most part, you make a post and it goes out. Did you know that a very small percentage of your followers even see your posts, about only 6%? The second is we all know someone’s account that has been hacked or ended up in social media jail. If this happens, all your access to your potential clients/customers is taken away with no way for you reaching them or them contacting you.
You have to be on social media an entrepreneur, but you don’t have to put all of your eggs into that one basket. You can have a presence on multiple platforms based on where your target audience is. Other promotional strategies are emails, content marketing (which you can use in your emails as repurposed content), ads i.e., Facebook, IG, YouTube, Google, etc. and never underestimate the value an up-to-date optimized website. Depending on who your target audience is many won’t even consider you a legitimate business without a website.
This is just the tip of the proverbial marketing iceberg. There are many things that you can do to promote your business and offerings. For more details on each of these and some key questions to ask yourself for each of the four Ps including the ones that I work with my clients on download a Free 6 Things Your Marketing Strategy Needs guide: https://bit.ly/3vfYYT7 .
Remember to be a successful and profitable business you want to offer the right product at the right price to the right people at the right time!