We can agree with Tom Fishbourne, Founder and CEO of Cartoonist, who said that “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” but this clever description is too elusive to give us an answer to the seemingly simple question from the title.
Even laypeople know that marketing is a comprehensive concept that encompasses a number of different strategies and tactics whose purpose is to attract potential clients and generating sales, but one can be easily led to believe that marketing equals promotion or advertising. And later, we’ll bust this myth and distinguish between these three.
Another common misinterpretation of what marketing is says that it’s just another word for large-scale selling.
Let’s discuss all this down to the nitty-gritty and highlight this field’s tremendous importance for both businesses and their customers.
A Working Definition of Marketing
Marketing is the process of attracting potential customers or clients and influencing their purchasing decision by communicating value.
In other words, it’s what businesses say and how they say it in order to explain the benefits of their product or service and why people should buy it.
The thing is that marketing operations don’t start after the product is completed – the entire process includes different stages of moving the product or service from a business to the consumer, including market research, understanding your customers’ needs, product development, promotion, sales, and distribution.
The trick is in finding the right balance between the interest of your business and the needs of your customers.
The Purpose of Marketing
While it’s possible to generate new business and sales with almost no marketing efforts, having a well-thought-out and targeted marketing strategy in place can improve results and increase the bottom line tremendously.
For example, 90% of customers say that video helps them make a purchasing decision, while 64% say that they’re more likely to buy after seeing a product or service video. These stats illustrate the power of marketing tools in educating potential customers, sparking their interest in your product or service, and convincing them to purchase from you and not your competitors.
But, in order for business owners to start using marketing properly, they need to understand how its different aspects impact the sales funnel.
Here’s how this process works and what it can do for your business.
1. Establish Your Brand
Building a brand is what will distinguish your business from your competitors.
Ask yourself which one you would rather choose: an iPhone or a smartphone brand you’ve never heard of.
Even if you’re not an Apple fanperson, the answer is obvious.
People are more likely to pick a product by a major brand even if it comes at a higher price simply because they perceive it as a better and safer option than a no-name product, (less risk). In other words, they trust popular brands more.
That’s why your marketing efforts should be directed at building brand awareness and improving visibility. Using different marketing channels will help you get on your audience’s radar so that when they need a product or service you offer, your company’s name will pop into their mind.
Leveraging content marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media, paid ads, and relevant offline resources will help you expand your reach and get your marketing message across.
2. Identify Your Micro-Niche
Marketing plays an important role in helping you showcase why your product or service is unique and better than your competitors’ solutions, e.g. we are experts in digital marketing for accountants.
Namely, consumers usually think that companies within a particular niche offer the same or similar products or services, and it’s crucial to help them understand what sets your brand apart.
That’s why identifying and establishing a micro-niche will not only allow you to explain why your company is different but also help you attract targeted, high-quality leads.
3. Target the Right Audience
It’s much better to direct your marketing efforts towards people who are most likely to purchase your product.
If your audience is too broad, you’ll waste your marketing dollars without any impressive outcomes. For example, there’s no need to send an email that you’re opening a new restaurant in Dublin to people who live in Paris.
You can use different targeting options based on geographic location, gender, age, job title, education, income level, or anything else that’s relevant to your ideal client. Such an approach will help you eliminate the guesswork from your marketing activities and focus on the right prospects.
4. Create Value for Your Customers
Creating value for your customers, and finding a way to communicate it properly is one of the most important purposes of marketing.
The first step is figuring out what’s important to your customers and what makes them tick. This will, in turn, allow you to pinpoint your unique value proposition (UVP), that is, a statement that clearly defines how your potential customers will benefit from your product or service.
2. Types of Marketing
The success of your overall marketing strategy depends on how well you combine different types of marketing.
In general, we can talk about online and offline marketing, but these two can be split into a number of different categories. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to spread yourself too thin and start using all these marketing channels at once. Test a couple and see which one works best for your business and focus on them.
- Content marketing refers to creating, publishing, and distributing relevant, high-quality, educational content that addresses your target audience’s pain points and offers practical solutions. Blogging is one way of doing this, but videos, podcasts, and webinars have become increasingly popular. For example, video is currently the most commonly used content format as it has overtaken blogs and infographics.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) is used for boosting your website’s rankings on Google and other search engines so that your product or service will be among the top results for relevant searches.
- Social media marketing is a strategy that taps into the power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms in an attempt to reach potential customers and get in touch with them on a more personal level. This strategy is excellent for engaging your potential and existing customers and interacting with them in real time.
- Print marketing is a traditional method that takes advantage of printed materials such as direct mail, catalogs, flyers, ads in magazines and newspapers, and billboards to reach a particular audience. Although many people switched to online, there are still audience segments that prefer traditional media.
- Email marketing is among the most effective marketing strategies with a 4,400% ROI, meaning that you can earn $44 for every dollar you spend. If planned and executed properly, email marketing can help you build and grow your customer base in a comparatively short time and with a minimal investment.
- PPC stands for pay-per-click marketing model in which advertisers pay a predefined fee every time someone clicks on their ad. This kind of marketing can help you bring paid, targeted traffic to your website.
These are only a couple of major types of marketing, but it would be a good idea to distinguish between marketing and advertising as these two terms are frequently used interchangeably. The main difference between the two can be boiled down to the fact that advertising refers to the ads, commercials, and other promotional activities, while marketing encompasses product development, market research, sales, customer support, and PR. In a nutshell, advertising is just a facet of a broader marketing category.
3. The 4 Ps Marketing Model
This popular model can be used to define four main pillars of every marketing strategy and the way they influence a customer’s decision to purchase a particular product or service.
The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place.
Is there a market gap that your product will fill?
Will your product meet the needs of your customers?
Who is your target audience?
Ask yourself these questions before you decide to create a product or service, that is, something that you’ll sell to your audience.
Use the answers and subsequent research to pinpoint the benefits your product or service will provide as well as its unique value. This way, you’ll be able to find your place even in a crowded marketplace by using the right marketing channels and a targeted marketing message that will resonate with your audience.
Price is how much you charge for your product or service, and getting it right can be a challenging task.
It’s crucial to find out how much your customers are willing to pay and establish the lowest price at which you’d be willing to sell your product. It’s a good idea to see how much your competitors are charging as well as evaluate the existing market.
Finding the right place and channels to sell your product or service is crucial for the success of this entire effort.
In some cases, that would be an online store, while in others, it’s essential to opt for a brick-and-mortar store in a physical location.
The point is to provide your customers with easy access to your products or services and offer them an exceptional customer experience.
The main goals of promotion are increasing interest in your product or service, generating new leads, and initiating purchases.
This objective refers to all the marketing and advertising activities whose purpose is to communicate the characteristics and benefits of your product or service and to inform and educate your audience about it.
Thanks to the number of different marketing objectives, strategies, and methods, defining marketing and its purpose can be a challenging task. This complexity also means that the marketing process involves various aspects of business and that you should understand how to make the most of its types and strategies.