Owning a business is not just about selling your product, it involves strategic planning. Your Company standing, the quality of your product, customer dealings, and word of mouth advertising are important, but these alone are probably not enough to grow your business. Your company’s name and product needs to stand out from your competitors. To do this you must realize the important elements of marketing and advertising to your company’s success.
All successful business owners understand that strategic planning includes evaluating their business goals every two to five years. Once the Company’s strategic plans and goals have been implemented, a commitment to the plan and building on it should be ongoing. Part of this ongoing commitment includes understanding the difference between marketing and advertising, and setting your goals and objectives accordingly.
Marketing can be defined as the process, overall strategy, and function of selling a product. It is the link between material needs and wants of a particular group or industry and the economic patterns of that group or industry. This includes creating, delivering, and communicating the value of your product to customers, and managing customer relationships in ways that benefit your business. Marketing also includes the science of targeting markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer buying behaviors while providing superior customer value.
Successful marketing management involves, developing marketing strategies and plans, and creating short and long term goals. It will be important to consider company growth, marketing insights, and developing a means to communicate and deliver the value of your product to your customers. The process of communicating and delivering the value of a product or service to customers is called advertising.
There are many different approaches to advertising. Customer focus groups, market changes, and product innovation are just a few. That said, the most important aspect of advertising is recognizing your audience and staying within your marketing and advertising budget.
Many companies today have a customer orientation group. This implies that the company focuses its activities and products on consumer demands. Generally there are three ways of doing this; the Consumer Driven Approach, Identifying Market Changes, and the Product Innovative Approach.
In the Consumer Driven Approach
The consumer’s wants and needs is the driver to all strategic marketing decisions. No strategies should be pursued until it passes the test of consumer research. Every aspect of market offering, including the nature of the product itself, is driven by the needs of the potential customer. The rationale for this approach is that there is no point spending funds developing products that no one will buy. History can attest to the many products that failed in spite of being technological breakthroughs.
The Formal Approach
The Formal Approach to this customer focused marketing is known as SIVA or Solution, Information, Value, and Access and it is based on customer demand.
- Solution: What is the product need and how appropriate is the solution or answer to the customer’s want or need?
- Information:Does the customer know about the solution: If so, how and from whom? Where did they get their information from? Do they know enough to let them make a buying decision?
- Value:Does the customer know the value of the transaction, what will it cost? What are the benefits? What might they have to sacrifice? What will be their reward?
- Access:Where can the customer find the solution? How easily can they buy the product and take delivery of it?
The SIVA model focuses heavily on the customer and how they view the product and the transaction.
Product Innovative Approach
In the product innovation approach, the company pursues product innovation and then tries to develop a market for it. Product innovation drives the process, and marketing research is conducted primarily to ensure that a profitable market segment exists for the innovation. However, marketers can aggressively over pursue product innovation and try to over capitalize. There should be a varied and multitiered approach to product innovation.
An emerging area of practice includes how employees are trained and managed to deliver the product in a way that positively impacts the acquisition and retention of customers. Companies have been investing their advertising budget on Good Feeling seminars and off-site product development and sales strategies. Recent company practices also include hiring outside communication and corporate enthusiasts to train employees on how to get the sale by using positive body language and verbal expression.
Hiring the Experts
Advertisement might require that you invest some monies with a freelance or professional agency so that you are better prepared to meet your marketing goals. Once you have completed your strategic planning and have recognized the need to begin an advertising campaign, the next step will be to determine how to best accomplish this.
Hiring an expert might involve a freelancer or an agency. Freelancer’s set their own price and often times will get the job done faster. Freelancers are usually less expensive because their overhead is less costly. You will have to work closely with the freelancer and many times they are not in the same location as you. Putting a team together to work with a freelancer might not be worth the effort or cost. Freelancers are better equipped to work one on one.
If you are considering hiring an advertising agency, you will need to look closely at the time-frame of your goals. Be sure that the agency can complete your project within the time-frame you’ve given them. You will also need to think about putting a team together to work with the agency so that your goals are communicated clearly, freeing you up to work with budget items, product development, and employee accountability.
An advertising agency can be costly because they have more than one person working on one job. Also, advertising agencies have people who specialize in the many aspects of an advertising campaign.
Sequencing Your Plan
As you develop your plan, decisions about the order of events will need to be made. Writing and generating graphs and line plots might be able to be done by you, but again, a time-frame will be important. A team of employees might be better equipped to stick to the tasks on hand. Having someone else perform the technical skills of writing out and charting or graphing plans frees your time up for other areas.
Knowing your audience and the industries associated with your line of work is key. Networking your product to others that share a commonality to your own company will help you help yourself. Memberships in Facebook, Twitter, and Google are good ways to get your name and product out there. These are also places to communicate with others who share your business concerns or level of difficulties.
Writing blogs and articles about your product is also helpful. Again you can do this yourself at no cost, or hire a freelancer to write for you. Joining EzineArticles or Hubpages, along with Google Blogs or WordPress will help you build your reputation and strengthen your customer base.
Emails sent out on a global basis not only get your business noticed, but might also increase your mailing list. Existing contacts could share your information on their own networking places, thus increasing your visibility.
Having a web page for people to reference or go to when investigating your company should be a consideration. There are many companies on the web that offer free web pages and even have already formatted web pages ready and waiting for you. All you have to do is add your company’s logo, pictures that represent your product, and product specifics and information to help guide your customer in the right direction.
Trade shows and professional conferences should be attended whenever possible. If not by you, than by someone you can trust to verbalize your company’s message. This person needs to be able to articulate a complete understanding of your product or program, and be welcoming, friendly, and patient. A smile goes a long way at these functions, so it will be important that the person who speaks for you is one who is comfortable meeting and speaking with strangers.
Evaluate, Evaluate, and then Reevaluate!
You always need to evaluate and then reevaluate your goals; continuously asking yourself if you are seeing progress or success. Make adjustments as you go along and stay up to date on your product and program, and how they stack up against your competitors.
Next, you will need to do an annual or yearly review of your goals and objectives. Review your entire strategic plan so that you are able to note areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, recognizing that adapting your business goals to revenue, or lack thereof, is a determining factor to your marketing goals. Investing in marketing and advertising is only one of many steps to getting your business on the road to success.
Marketing and advertising should be a consideration in your strategic planning and company budget. Yes, it is important to network with industry colleagues and other business owners as much as possible, but getting your company name and product offering out there and letting people know that you are the face behind the company could be the most important aspect to your success.