Every bit as important as the product or service you provide is the marketing you will do to promote yourself and your business. Marketing is work designed to get you more work. It’s especially important in helping you know your customers and how you can make a better product or service to meet their needs and wants.
Marketing is more than just promotion, although that is a big part of making a competitive business or service. Marketing consists of five fundamentals that, when taken together, can help distinguish you from others in order to make you more appealing to customers.
In this topic area, we’ll explore the five fundamentals of marketing (sometimes referred to as the 5 Ps of marketing) to better understand how both you and your customers can benefit from the value you provide.
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Marketing your business or your services is just as important as doing the actual work itself. It’s effort that you put into not only earning more business, but also providing a better work product.
The 5 Ps of Marketing
- The Product (or service) you offer to help them: By “product” we mean the thing you actually sell and provide. That could be something tangible like a new app, furniture, pottery, and so on. But it can also mean the service you provide, so really your work product. Either way, it’s what you provide in exchange for money.
For example, sandwiches.
- The Person at the center of our marketing, which is your customer. Who do you have in mind that would be the best fit to buy your product or service? Everything you or your business does happens because of this person. Knowing this audience’s needs, wants, problems, and preferences will go a long way in not only earning new customers, but in maintaining existing ones.
If you own a sandwich shop, an example of your ideal customer/person could be a male, between the ages of 21-45 years old, who works a professional job near your shop, and doesn’t bring lunch to work.
- How you set a Price: You have to know what the market will allow you to charge for your product or service. Factors such as demand, shifting demographics, unmet needs, and competition also play a role as to how much you can charge for your product or service. Are you priced too high, too low, or just right? How much are your customers willing to pay for your product? For example, how much will you need to charge for your sandwiches to cover the cost and business expenses? How much are your ideal customers willing to pay?
- How you Position your brand:
Your position includes how, when, and where you sell your products or offer your services. How are your clients interacting with your business? What do you want to convey to your customers? For example, how do you sell your sandwiches? Are you making office deliveries? Or do your clients come to you?
- How you Promote your business: There are several ways to reach prospective customers and to continue connecting with existing ones. It’s important you go to them and reach them where they are. For example, if you know many of your clients take the subway to work, it may be a good idea to place ads near the subway exit closest to your shop.
Tips for Marketing
- Stay flexible but determined as market trends change. Marketing is a practice that you can continually improve. The trick is to ensure that you keep your customer at the center of all your marketing.
- Measure your reach and effectiveness. Not every strategy or tactic is going to work for every kind of audience, so you will need to evaluate how well your marketing is working and make adjustments.
- Marketing is problem solving. It’s not just about attracting new customers, it’s about continuing to provide something of value to both you and your customers. Marketing helps you understand the wants and needs of your customers, so you can make a better product or service for your customer.
- Your customer (and your marketing approach) will change over time. Make marketing a regular practice and you can anticipate trends and changes in your customers segments, allowing you and your customers to fully benefit from the product or service you provide.
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Define Your Product
The first fundamental to marketing is the product. This term is interchangeable with the term service. Basically, you are examining what it is that you or your company provides in exchange for money or other items of value.
What You Make and for Whom
How do you know that you are offering the right product or service for the right audience? When you start to see sales. But in order for that to happen, you need a very good understanding of your target market’s needs and wants. Then, you can offer a product or service that is designed to add value to their lives by addressing any problems they have, or in helping them seize opportunities.
How Your Product Competes
If your customer fits neatly into a generational segment (for example, Baby Boomers, Millennials, etc.), then that will give you a general sense of how they’re spending their resources. It may not be a 100% fit, but more of your customers are likely to fit into these segments than not.
Consumers typically make purchase decisions based on perceived value, meaning that the value of the product or service is really up to them and in their minds. You or your company can compete on quality, access, and cost; the weight that gets assigned to each of those is up to your customers. Your job is to continually communicate and survey your customers to get an understanding of how they prioritize these things when evaluating products and services that can help them solve their problem.
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The Person at the Center
The person at the center of all of your marketing efforts is your customer. To better understand your customer, it’s helpful to know whether you’re running a business that sells directly to businesses (B2B), or directly to people/consumers (B2C).
B2B or B2C
B2B means your business provides services or products to a business so they can in turn provide value to their customers. An example of this is selling design services to a food company so they can package their new pasta. Or, perhaps you sell tools to auto shops so they can provide a service to their customers.
In a B2C scenario, your business sells goods and services directly to people as individuals. One example is a bakery. While you may have a few catering orders from other businesses in the area, most of your customers are families from the community. You sell directly to the customer.
Target Market Type
A common mistake in business and contracting is that we often try to be everything to everyone, which is a quick way to make your business suffer. We can’t solve everyone’s problem, but we can help quite a few people.
Knowing whose problem to solve is key to figuring out the rest of the marketing fundamentals, such as how to create and price your product or service. Ask yourself (or better yet, ask your customer) why they buy what they do, and how they buy those products or services. It will give you some insight into their motivations and how they try to meet their needs and wants.
Primary Target Market
The primary target market (sometimes referred to as your primary audience) is your main customer. For example, if you have a barbershop, your primary target may be men who need monthly haircuts.
Secondary Target Market
The secondary market is the person who is actually using your product but not necessarily the one purchasing it. An example of a secondary market is children in candy stores who convince their parents to buy them sweets. Even though the children are not the ones making the purchase, they are influential in the sale.
Problems to Solve
No matter your customer, you need to understand that you’re working with another human being who either has a problem to solve or an opportunity to seize. Your job with marketing is to get a better sense of why that problem exists, how they currently solve it, and for you to offer a valuable solution.
Get into the habit of regularly interviewing or talking with your existing customers and those who could use your service but do not. Having a sense of which problems exist for them and why they either did or didn’t choose you or your company helps you understand how you might add more value to your offering.
As mentioned earlier in this topic page, you cannot possibly be everything to everybody, and understanding how your primary and secondary audiences can be more readily organized can help you focus your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to promotion and customer communication.
There are four ways to organize customers:
|Segmentation Type||Segmentation Attributes|
|Geography||The location of your audience, typically local, regional, national, or global.|
|Demographics||The age, gender, education level, nationality, religion, and ethnicity of your target market.|
|Psychographics||The personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of your target market.|
|Behavior||How your target market searches for information, spends money, and communicates, including which communication channels and platforms they prefer to use.|
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Set the Right Price
In order to price your product with what your market is willing to pay, you’ll want to consider what it costs you to provide your products and services, plus all the other costs of doing business that come along with it. Learn what your competitors are charging for similar services or products. Pay attention to how your product or service is priced in other marketplaces as well, and learn about who makes those purchases. Having this information will help you determine if you should do premium, penetration, or economy pricing.
With this strategy, you keep your price artificially high so you can promote an image of having a premium product. This is one way that some luxury companies try to differentiate themselves from the competition. While this strategy can make your brand seem more valuable, you risk alienating customers and driving them to your competitors. What you gain in brand perception, you lose in market share. For example, Porsche sells its Cayenne sports car starting at roughly $67,000, but Porsche itself only has less than 1% of the entire share of the automobile market.
With penetration pricing, you introduce your offering to the market at a low price in order to break into the market. On the plus side, it helps you to get established, but one negative is that it’s challenging to encourage repeat business when you ultimately raise the price. In 2000, Netflix began offering its service for $8.99 per month, which was a low enough price point to encourage users to try it, and their number of subscribers grew readily. Steadily, however, Netflix began to increase its price which turned some users off from the streaming service.
When you set your price low in order to make a small margin of profit, you are using economy pricing. This works when you’re able to start delivering the product at scale in bulk or to several customers, and you’re able to draw in large quantities of customers on a consistent basis. Generic brands often offer the same or near-same quality of products for less than consumer brands. While their profit margin is less, they make up for it with the quantity of buyers purchasing their products.
Set the Right Price
When it comes to pricing, you typically want to have a rate that the customer feels is fair and provides value for having their problem solved. This is why it’s important to know who your customers are. While you can compare your prices with those of your competitors and with the cost customers pay for other options and workarounds, your best bet is to go to show your product or service to your audience and ask them 1) if they’d pay for what you’re selling, 2) how much they’d be willing to pay. It’s up to you to balance that with what it costs you to provide the goods or services so you can generate a profit.
Consider the following questions as you set your prices for each service or product you provide:
- What does it cost you to make the product or provide your service?
- What are your monthly fixed costs?
- How much do you want to pay yourself? And how much can you afford?
- What are your competitors charging?
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Position Your Product
In this section, we’ll explore the 4th fundamental of marketing: positioning. This is one of the more entertaining, but sometimes challenging, marketing efforts you’ll have to undertake. This is because you may be too close to your own work to see it clearly, and you can actually bias your own thinking. It is recommended that you experiment with what the perspective of a potential customer would be if they were looking at you or your business. In the end, what the customer thinks of your brand is more important than what you think of it.
Positioning is all about how you want your company or yourself to be known in the mind of your customers. A positioning statement tells the world who you are, what you do, and why it matters. There are two main components that we’re concerned with when it comes to positioning: branding and messaging.
Branding is all about what differentiates you from competitors and sets you apart, in a way letting customers know what you’re about and the value they can expect from you or your business. Brands speak to the market and create a perception about the value you provide through the carefully constructed mix that includes colors, logos, vocabulary, taglines, and ultimately your interaction with the customer, which valides the image you’re working to project. The following steps may help you think through how to develop your brand strategy. As you think through these points, remember to keep your target customers in mind:
First, think through your position. Ask yourself: What are three things I want my audience to think about when they think about the product or service that I offer?
Second, if you had just 30 seconds to tell them about you, your business, or your product and how it helps meet their needs, what would you say? Write this down and practice it out loud and keep reworking it until you are able to recite your answer in under 30 seconds.
Third, what do your customers think of your business name? What do they think of the logo? Do they like your tagline and website address? Your customers have to like these or you will have trouble getting them to trust you.
Fourth, build your online presence. Think through how you will promote your business to your audience on social media. Think of social media platforms as spaces where you can engage your audience online and give them something of value that gives them reason to trust and hire you. Share photos of your products, services, events, and other relevant content for your clients and potential clients. . Remember to focus your energy on the platforms where your target audience are already present. For your website, make sure that the address (called a “URL”) is memorable and reflective of the name of you or your business.
Your promise as a business owner must be consistent across all of the spaces where you interact with your customers so that your messaging remains consistent, easy to understand, and inviting.
Messaging is how you talk about and present yourself, your business, and your product or service. With messaging, you’re trying to make yourself and your company relatable to prospective and existing customers, which means you are trying to combine the key benefits of your work and the value that work provides in a simple message. It tells your target market what you do, how you do it, and why it matters.
Some of the most powerful marketing you do will be done in person or through remote networking opportunities. In either case, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain who you are, what you do, and what you want. One method is to create an elevator pitch, named as such for the average length of an elevator ride (less than 30 seconds).
Here is a template for an elevator pitch:
Hello, I’m <your first and last name>. My company, <company name>, is a <product type> that provides <target market> experiencing <problem statement> by <your solution>.
Let’s look at an example of how this comes together.
Hello, I’m Daniela Morrison. My company, Morrison’s Morning Buzz, is a coffeehouse chain that provides coffee lovers in small towns who miss the elegance of a big city coffee shop with fine baked goods and premium coffee drinks.
So how did Daniela from Morrison’s Morning Buzz do this? She followed these four steps that you can use to build your elevator pitch:
- Identify yourself and your company (you can bypass the company field if you are an independent contractor).
- Tell the person you’re speaking with exactly what you or your company do and for whom.
- Identify the problem as simply as you can.
- Describe how you, your company, or your product solve your market’s problem.
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Promote Your Hustle
When working to promote your company or yourself as an individual, you must first think back to what you learned about your target market, and in this case the first thing you want to know is how that target market gets their information.
You want to know if they primarily use their desktop computer or their mobile device to shop. Which social media platforms do they use? Wherever your market is getting its information, that’s where you want to connect with them and present them with your brand
Nowadays, most everything about communication is digital, which is good because the cost of digital marketing is fairly cost effective, as long as you are turning Some digital promotion tools that are readily available to you now include websites, social media, and email marketing.
The first task of promotions is to get your website up and running. Building a basic website that communicates your brand, your story, and your product is fairly quick and easy. Software services such as Squarespace or WordPress enable you to find and purchase a website address (URL) and begin building your page using templates the software service can provide.
The following companies provide software that allows customers to use pre-built site templates. Hosting options may also be available.
With social media, you can connect with your audience in a very broad or direct manner. Observe the social media platforms that your target market is using. If they tend to avoid certain social media platforms, then it doesn’t make sense for you to market to them on that platform. Instead, concentrate your energy by being in the same online social space as them. Use powerful images and compelling videos to tell the story of you, your business, your product or service, and how it solves their problems. Use social media to start adding value to their lives before they even become a customer. With social media you can also promote advertisements targeted to your audience. These ads help you to raise awareness of your business, reach new leads, and stay visible with your current customers. With social media advertising, you can reach people based on a variety of factors such as their geographic location, job title, interests, education level, and more.
Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, also have Groups designated as spaces where people can connect with another based on their specific interests, such as mountain biking, baking, childcare, dance music, and thousands of other interest areas. You can join these groups to spread the word about your business, and to also learn from these prospective customers about how their interests, needs, and wants are changing.
Keep in mind that while anyone can use social media, there are trends in terms of who uses which platforms. For instance, Facebook is popular among GenerationX and Baby Boomer generations. Instagram is aimed at Millenials and GenXers. Twitter has a broad following across multiple segments. LinkedIn, however, is primarily used by professions of all demographics in order to network and to share and find knowledge and opportunities. Hootsuite is a program that can help you to schedule, manage, and track your social media messaging across multiple social media platforms.
Professional Email Address
It can help make you look more professional if you have a business email address instead of a personal one. You can use a Google business account to keep business emails separate from work emails, and you can also set up your email account to run through Google as well so that you have a professional email address with the same extension as your website URL. For example, if your website is called www.xyzflowers.com, then your professional email address could also be email@example.com.
It is smart to develop a monthly newsletter about your industry, craft, or expertise that can add lots of value to your customer. You can also use this strategy as a way to follow up with customers after they’ve made a purchase to measure their satisfaction and encourage repeat business with coupon codes (for example).
If you decide that you will use an email marketing campaign, we recommend that you use a service that allows you to manage your lists of newsletter subscribers, and allows your email recipients to unsubscribe or subscribe easily. Services such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Sendinblue, and Drip are currently among the most popular direct email marketing campaign software.