Being a small business owner myself, I know how easy it is to be caught up in the day-to-day details of running, building and marketing your business. As a business leader, I also know it can be a real challenge to slow down and really see your business objectively.
And I mean really “see” it. Because there are just so many moving parts and so much overlap of functions, that it can be difficult to do. Especially when you are so deep into the heart of it. It can seem that gaining an objective perspective is impossible.
But I’ve also learned that having a structured perspective for viewing your business can help. The systematic approach I am suggesting is to think of your business as sevedn major areas of functions. These can be labeled Leadership, Finance, Management, Marketing, Branding, Sales, and Delivery.
Let’s take a few moments to consider the Marketing function of your business.
As the owner of your business, you most likely had a hand in all of the marketing in the early days of your business. And maybe you did it all! That was then. By now you’ve probably managed to delegate those functions to someone else. Even so, you should have a solid understanding of the essentials of your marketing functions.
Marketing: A Simple Definition
Marketing has both a strategic side and a tactical side, and – much like your business – it can have a lot of moving parts. But to keep it simple, we can say that marketing is what you do to generate leads. Not customers – that’s the function of your Sales.
Marketing is simply bringing the right people to your door so that you can convert them from being a lead to a prospect, and then a customer.
Sounds easy enough when you put it that way! But you know, if you’ve been at this for any length of time, that getting seen and heard by those “right people” is challenging. And getting them to come to your “door” – whether that means literally, or virtually as in to your website – is sometimes seemingly impossible.
In 2017 it has been estimated that over $206 billion was spent on advertising in the U.S. alone. That works out to aproximately $825 for every person over 18. And the old quote that many of us have heard, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
The problem is that many business owners can say much the same thing about their own efforts.
This is because marketing – which involves much more than just advertising – can feel so complex and difficult to do well, that we often succomb to abdicating it to the “professionals.”
This can be something as common as continuing to run ads in the local printed phone book despite that fact that almost no one uses them any longer. It can take the form of handing over large sums of money each month to a local ad agency that promises great ROI, but fails to show any correlation between your money spent and any new business you’ve gained.
Regardless of who you are paying or what they are supposedly doing for you, more often than not you haven’t “delegated” your marketing functions to a third-party as much as you’ve simply “abdicated” them. And the more mysterious your vendors make marketing appear, the more willing you are to give them money and hope for results.
Taking Control of Your Marketing
Marketing can, in a simplistic terms, be divided between the “Tactical” and “Strategic” functions. The tactical side can be said to comprise of what we do. Running print ads, radio ads, or direct mail. Online marketing activities including publishing content, leveraging social media, and using Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Facebook advertising. This can also involve email marketing and YouTube videos.
The strategic side marketing is made up of activities that we often call market research. This is the work that helps you understand who your prospects are in terms of their demographics, and how to better understand the personalities, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. This is critical because each of these groups of prospects, your target market segments, represent potential customers.
The understanding gained through research, analysis, and strategizing about your customers and prospects is then used to decide which channels to use to reach them, and helps you determine how to craft the best messages for them.
Because an effective marketing strategy can be a bit complex, and require skill sets not readily found in your business, it makes sense to outsource, or delegate, some or most of those functions. But, as the leader of your business, you need to know and understand what is being done, how it’s being done, and – most importantly – why it’s being done.
This is true whether you delegate your marketing efforts to a third-party agency or individual, or if you simply delegate it to your own staff. You shold be able to explain your marketing functions yourself.
Marketing Made Simple
Going back to our simple division of “tactical” and “strategic” operations, let’s see how they come together to create a marketing campaign.
The ﬁrst step in any successful marketing strategy is to identify your ideal target markets. If your business is not reaching out to the right prospects, in the right places, in the right way, all your activities will be in vain. Marketing begins with knowing who and where your ideal prospects are. Then you determine how to reach them and what messages you want to communicate.
If you had the ability to target only those who are most likely to buy — the right customers for your brand — think how successful your business could be. You could direct all your marketing efforts speciﬁcally to people who are likely to be your best customers, while minimizing your efforts and attraction to the wider spectrum of people who are not.
This is why the importance and value of market research and knowing your customers cannot be overstressed.
Once you’ve done the research and analysis, selected the right channels, and developed the right messages, marketing then becomes largely a set of tactical activities. This is where you will want to systematize and schedule your marketing activities every day and every week, for a series of months.
It is that ongoing, consistent effort that enables you to generate leads over time who can then be converted into customers.
And, as the leader of your business, you need to know those unseen people better than anyone else in your business!
If you’d like assistance with your business, please sign up for a free consultation where we can discuss this or another topic that will move your business forward. And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on this and other business success topics.