Marketing F.A.Q. Answered
If you’ve ever run a business, or even had a yard sale, you’ve probably heard of or utilized the art of marketing.
Marketing is a major topic for businesses as it’s a vital part of any organization’s success. In fact, many consider marketing to be the backbone of a company or the oil that keeps operations running smoothly. Despite that, there’s still an air of confusion surrounding such an important part of business - and the questions keep coming.
What is marketing? Can I do it on my own? Do I really need marketing?
Below, we’ve answered these and other burning marketing questions.
Question 1: What is marketing?
Part of the reason why there are so many questions on the topic of marketing is because it has many definitions. Many marketers will define it as the most important part of business or what really makes them successful, while others will take it by its most basic and literal description.
One of the more commonly used definitions of marketing in the business world is, “the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.” There! Question answered! But, wait, what does that even mean?
Marketing is a process that does more than just sell a product. It’s a process that:
Gains awareness for an entire brand (not just a product/service);
Constructs how consumers will perceive a brand;
Builds a reputation/persona for a brand; and
Analyzes data collected from past experiences (sales, reactions, and engagements).
All of this leads to sales, and even more importantly, brand loyalty from consumers.
In a way, marketing is like a parent. It helps a business’ brand/product grow from an unknown into something attainable with a following. Marketing prepares products, services, and brands for the market and its consumers.
Question 2: Are marketing and advertising the same thing?
Short answer? No. Marketing and advertising, while sharing some similarities, are two very different things. Advertising is the actual act of promoting a product, but there is much more that goes into product marketing than ads.
As was discussed in question one, marketing is the process of building a product/brand image through awareness, positioning, persona, analysis, and promotion in order to gain consumer loyalty and sales. Advertising/promotion is just one of the many steps in marketing. In order to advertise a product we must first have the following:
An audience with specific tastes and wants established
Their contact information or how to contact them
Their general location
An understanding of their preferences (if they like ads that are funny or informative, for example)
And much, much more
A lot of research and a thorough marketing strategy is required before advertising can even be considered for a product.
Question 3: If I have a killer product or service, do I really need marketing?
This one is easy, and the answer is yes! If you have an amazing product that can gain a lot of recognition and consumer interest on its own, that’s amazing! Why, then, not take it a step further? There’s only so much awareness you can gain from your consumers without finding them first, and the chances of any or all of your products/services going viral are slim.
Say you’re looking downtown for clothes at a good price and see a sign in a store window saying, “50% off all clothing!” There are several more stores on the street, but you can’t tell what’s in them just from the window. Naturally, you’re probably going to check out the store with the sign since you know for sure there are clothes on sale inside. However, unbeknownst to you, there’s another store on the street without a sign that has better clothes at better prices than the ones you check out.
If you’re the owner of store two, the amount of foot traffic coming from the streets will be small in comparison to your competitor. You might be getting some customers who have heard about you and have been there before, and maybe you’re doing well, but imagine how much better your sales would be if you had a sign that said “Even BETTER clothes, at even BETTER prices!” What if you had a flyer like that in the places customers you want are most likely to see it? Or a Facebook ad that popped up in the Newsfeed of your audience? You would be getting the customers who know about you, plus all of the people who were walking down the street and realized from your sign that they could use your products as well.
Of course, marketing is much more than signs, ads, and deals. It can be more complex, or it can be much simpler and more affordable if you want it to be. You just need to give it a try.
Question 4: Do I have to have a big budget to market my products or services?
People tend to believe that in order to market your goods you need to have a sizeable budget. While that can be true, it is just as true that you can market yourself with a small budget or even no budget at all. Any marketing is better than none, so you don’t have to be extremely fancy with it, especially if you’re just starting out.
Here are some small things you could do to market yourself within a small or non-existent budget:
Maintain a social media presence
Start a mailing list
Start an email campaign (Mailchimp has a free plan)
Create a social media campaign
Ask existing customers to endorse you
Use print media - flyers, posters, postcards, etc.
Of course, if you are able to you can and should create a marketing budget. It’s great to use the basics when you start out, but as your business grows your marketing strategies should grow too. Imagine eventually being able to use promoted ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google to hit your audience directly, or being able to create a professional video promoting your business.
The possibilities are endless, but you need to start first.
Question 5: How do I know if my marketing efforts are working?
Just as there are many ways to market your business, there are also many metrics you can use to interpret the success of your effort. Thankfully, these metrics are free as long as you take the time to keep track of and analyze the data you get from them.
When it comes to tracking the change marketing has had on your consumer visits/purchases it’s probably best for you to compare your sales before and after the changes you make over time. Make sure you check what your average monthly revenue was beforehand so that when you implement your changes you can review your revenue moving forward. From there you can calculate how much more you’ve been making since you started, and, if you’re making less or you’re not seeing a difference, then you can take the time to reconsider your strategy.
When considering how you’re doing on social media and Google, use Google Analytics to track your impressions, engagements, and even the revenue your pages are gaining. Google Analytics is a wonderful program that is simple to use and free for small and medium-sized businesses.
By taking advantage of these helpful tools and taking the time necessary to analyze your data, you can ensure that your marketing strategy is working in exactly the way you want it.
And with that, we bring a close to our Marketing F.A.Q.! Now that you know a little more about marketing you can go out and get started on the strategy that will bring you and your business to the top!
Marketing requires in-depth research, time, and effort, but with a little bit of each you can make your business that much more successful. When it comes to marketing, a little effort can go a long, long, long way.
Bailey Greenwood-Vidal - Marketing Coordinator