Unraveling the Mystery of Marketing

Marketing. Sales. PR. Promotions. Online marketing. Guerilla tactics. Direct response TV. What does it all mean and how do you know which is for you? Never fear, the product launch maven is here to reveal the truth and help you navigate this new process of getting your product into the right hands. Talk about the right hands — that, in a nutshell, is what marketing is. But before I go into details, let’s start from the beginning and back up to a 10,000 feet view and you can see this in context.

Every company, or creator of a product/service, consists of 3 parts: the product itself, the operations and the marketing. The product or service includes everything it takes to have a tangible thing/service; this may include the research and development, the creation of the prototype, sourcing of materials, manufacturing, packaging and inventory systems. Operations are all of the systems and people it takes to make a business run. At the moment, those “people” are probably only you and perhaps a few outside vendors or independent contractors. Included in the operations of a company are the systems that in the viewpoint of Ray Croc (creator of McDonald’s and the master of replication) are 100% repeatable and anyone, with instruction, can re-create. And, speaking of Ray Croc, he’s one cat you should read about; I recommend Grinding it Out: The Making of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc. Did you know that McDonald’s isn’t a restaurant, but one of the most brilliantly executed operational marvels of our lifetime? Aside from reading about him, I had the good fortune of learning this from my uncle who was his VP of Marketing back in the 50′s when McDonald’s was just getting started in Ohio. He has some incredible stories about their early days that I’ll share with you another time. Operations are systems for your company developed to stand alone without you. If the operations manual for your company was handed over in exchange for a nice fat check when you’re ready to exit, it would be a turnkey business for someone else to run and grow. Marketing is anything you do to get that product into the hands of not only someone who wants and needs your product, but will happily and easily pay you for it. So, therefore, what marketing modalities every company chooses will be different.

So, follow the logic here (and by the way, it is backwards), if the marketing is based on who your paying customer is, who are they? Do you have some good guesses about where they are? What makes them tick? Do you know why they want, or better yet, do they need your product? There are many questions to ask yourself about your customer, much of which will be conjecture in the beginning, but as soon as you have up to three customers, two of whom are similar, you’ve got a line to go on.

Here’s a big secret: as you are developing your product, begin developing a picture and list of attributes of your customer. And, do not take one step further, or spend another dime, until you are exceedingly clear on this. I cannot tell you how many entrepreneurs I meet who have a great solution for some problem they’ve experienced and are so incredibly enamored with it, they don’t care what anyone thinks (except waxing poetic about why it’s so incredible). Guess what? That’s not a business; that’s a vanity project; and an expensive one. If you are truly interested in making a scalable product/service that becomes your retirement, the only thing you should care about is your customer and why they will want to pay you for something. So, if your customer thinks that the shoe laces on your new sneaker should be green instead of blue, or the design needs to change, you better darned well do it. Why? Because they are your customer and you have no business without customers.

So, let’s focus on marketing. What exactly is it? How does it work? What are its many faces? It starts with the “marketing umbrella,” under which there are many different ways to get your product into the hands of the customer who will pay you for it. Here is a list of some of the different varieties of marketing:

Sales / distribution *
Advertising
PR
Promotions
Guerrilla tactics
Online marketing
Social networking
Sampling
Trade shows
Word of mouth
Email marketing
E-marketing
Direct response TV
Direct mail
Special events
Viral marketing
Networking
Professional associations
Awards and recognition
Referral programs
Network marketing
Pay Per Click
Search Engine Optimization

And, the list goes on.

So, how do you know which method will work best for your product? Should you employ one or perhaps several of them together? This is a question that only you can answer based on who your customer is and where you think they gather in numbers. It may be that your target customer is someone who hangs out at the Moose Lodge. So guess what? Sampling your product there is a good idea. You may have an online business that sells a product that is desired by those who ride the bus every day. So, your marketing should probably be on buses and on bus benches. Just because you have an online business, by the way, does not necessarily mean that you only market online. You certainly want to ensure that you are directing traffic to your website, but it better be from those bus riders. Maybe they are online buying bus tickets. See how that works? You just think backwards and it becomes quite easy. It’s not rocket science; but it’s incredibly practical.

A few words about *sales. Like all the other modalities I mentioned above, sales is also a method used to get a product into the hands of someone who wants to buy it, but it’s the one marketing aspect in this list that is 100% necessary, no matter who your customer is. As for the rest of the list, you have choices about which to use. You have no business without sales.

When you start a company, the marketing is an integral part of the launch. The best way to approach it is to create a marketing mix. Use an Excel sheet to list all the marketing methods you might use to find your customer. Choose the ones that you can afford first and build from there.

Marketing That is Working Right Now – Customer Research

What is working right now in this tough market as the best, reasonable cost mix for any organization is finding out who your customer types are (profile them), and then do the following:
- Events
- News Releases (not necessarily to the press)
- Web Promotion
- Radio Advertising
- E-blast Newsletters
- Direct Mail Advertising

All must be highly targeted at your top purchasing demographics and done as a campaign – not a series of unconnected media activity. It works right now!

The strategy starts by figuring out exactly who your buyers are and creating unique events for them, and people just like them. This article will cover customer research and future articles will cover the events and the media mix shown above.

Who are Your Customers? Once You Find Out, You Can Find More Just Like Them.
Find out the demographics and other information about your best customers. Check with your top sales people, look at customer records, hold focus groups with your customers, call them, poll them, find out as much as you can about the following:
- What is their household income?
- What is their age?
- Where do they live?
- Single, married, kids?
- Have they bought before?
- Why did they buy your product or service?
- Was there a particular benefit, feature, message that brought them to you?
- What media do they use: Which TV channels, radio stations, websites, magazines and newspapers, etc.?
- How did they hear about you? Careful! This is tenuous at best. Most won’t remember or won’t tell you accurately for a number of reasons but if most say the same thing it might be reliable.
- What are their favorite charities?

You’re looking for trends, not private or individual information.

After you figure out your best customer data, create customer profiles so you can use the information to:
- Create events to appeal directly to them
- Decide when is the best time to have an event and advertise
- Figure out where to have events
- Position your product or service vs. the competition
- Create a message to use to write news releases and other copy
- Target web sites you can use to use to promote (including social networking sites and groups)
- Promote on specific radio stations
- Get potential addresses to use for direct mail

Next article, Unique Events!

Various Online Marketing Solutions

There are so many people who go for online businesses. This is because everyone goes online these days and it will be easier to market products and services where people usually are. Since majority of the population today makes use of the internet, this is the best place to start a business. This will be the best place to reach more people and create income through business. However, since many people are already doing online businesses, the competition is getting tougher. It is important that one knows various marketing techniques so that the business website will more visible than the others. This will create more exposure and popularity for the business website resulting to more income. Here are some of the most used online marketing solutions that business websites may use.

SEO/Search Engine Optimization – this is the most common way to marketing online. It is the method of obtaining high ranks in the search engines so that the website will be more visible over the net. This will then provide more chances for the website to be clicked more often giving more visitors that may become customers in the future as well. The more visitors that a website obtains the more chances that their sales will also go up. SEO make use of tools like article contents, blogs, press releases and newsletters in connecting with web browsers that may become web visitors.

SEM/Search Engine Marketing – this is almost similar to SEO but the only difference is that SEM is making use of both paid search results and the one that SEO is using. Therefore, this method gives more chances to have more visitors for the website. It also makes use of the tools being used in the optimization. It also makes use of strategies like PPC or Pay Per Click which will help the website rank high in the search engines.

SMM/Social Media Marketing – this is the method of marketing using the social media sites. This will make use of the sites so that one will freely market their products and services. This is very common nowadays as many people are getting hooked with using these social media sites. And since many people are using these sites, it is easer to market and advertise your business. You will also be able to reach more people with the aim to increase sales.

Even big names in the business industry are going online these days. Business experts have seen that there are bigger possibilities for business to reach the global market through the internet. With it, one does not have to put up stores in different countries. Through the use of the internet, people can shop, browse and do business without any hassles. One just needs to learn much about these techniques so that they can market correctly in the online business scene.