This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.
Marketing is not about selling. That may sound obvious, but too many people act as if the purpose of marketing is to sell: it is not. The purpose of marketing is to raise awareness of your product or services, so that people will be motivated to investigate further, or they will be aware of what you offer, if they need it in the future.
The challenges for marketing are:
- Knowing who your potential customers are
- Knowing what channels of information they most actively engage with
- Knowing what messages will resonate most strongly with them
Using the answers to these, you can design a marketing campaign that answers the three questions that a prospective customer will have:
Question 1: What are you offering me?
If I am a customer of yours, then your product or service must meet a need or satisfy a desire in me. A strong marketing message sets up that need or desire, to prequalify readers, viewers or listeners and get the attention of those who are suitable targets. It then stimulates their interest by making a promise that the product or service can meet their needs. Finally, it amplifies desire, by showing the customer what they will get (beyond the product or service itself) by buying. This bit is about benefits and you must link them to strong positive emotional states. The favourite of many advertisers is, of course, the promise of love, romance or the three-letter alternative. Now they want it, you need to answer the next question…
Question 2: Is it good value?
They want it, but how much are they prepared to pay for it. Focus on value not cost. Done well, some customers won’t even care about cost (think of the people who queue to buy the latest hi-tech, hi-cost products that simply replace things they already have – desire; not need). But if they do care about cost, you must show how the benefits you are offering outweigh this – and the ratio is a measure of the customer’s perception of value. If you can satisfy them on this too, they don’t only want it, they want to go out and get it. So now answer…
Question 3: How can I get it?
Choose a delivery strategy that is consistent with the image you want to convey for your product or service and then (in most cases) make it easy for the customer to buy. Why ‘in most cases’? Because for certain products or services at the premium end of their market, you can add to the perceived cachet of the product by making it hard for the customer to buy. This increases its sense of exclusivity and therefore of its perceived value.
Getting your message out
Promoting your product means providing prospective customers with plentiful relevant information. It needs to answer their questions about your product or service, but also about you, and why they should buy from you. There are a near infinite number of media that you can use, in combination. Here is a selection.
- Advertising: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, online, billboards, posters, leaflets
- Promotional: brochures, pens, apparel, stationery, bags, websites
- Sponsorship: events, causes, awards, hospitality
- Direct: mail, email, telemarketing, newsletters
- Signage and branding: buildings, plant, vehicles, uniforms, products
- Public Relations: articles, press releases, interviews
- Events: conferences, exhibitions, hospitality and entertaining, trade fairs
- Social media: Twitter, blogging, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube
You may like The Marketing Pocketbook and a couple of earlier Pocketblogs:
- The Tribes Model of Marketing and Change
- Marketing is an Ethos
- On Competition – The Far End of the Value Chain