Anyone involved in a business has a role to play in marketing. In today’s highly competitive world, marketing sits across every function of a business, and it’s not just down to ‘The Marketing Department.’ If you work for yourself or run a small business, sales and marketing will be as much a part of your working day as everything else that has to be done to make a profit.
Marketing can be a very complex subject, but anyone can develop a few of the core skills and see the results of their efforts. You may feel it’s something best left to the experts, but there are some essential marketing skills that can make a huge difference to your success in business.
Everyone’s heard of the 80/20 Rule, but you may not realise how important it is in the world of marketing. Also known as Pareto’s Principle, in business the rule tells us that eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of your customers. The actual percentages may vary, but essentially it means that you have to recognise where your profits come from and specifically target those customers. Your marketing and advertising budget should take account of this, or you will be wasting time and effort.
Taking the 80/20 Rule a step further, you should understand the different types of customers you deal with and tailor your approach to them. There are hundreds of ways you can segment customers, and only you can decide which is right for your business. For example, you could segment customers based on their age, how they trade with you, their average monthly order, or even their geographical location. Once you have segmented your customers into groups, you can develop strategies for the best way to deal with them.
Communication is everything in marketing. If you can’t get your messages out to an audience, your business will shrivel and die. Marketing communications is about understanding the needs of your audience and finding the best way to talk to them. It may be a mix of face to face visits, email marketing, newsletters and press advertising, or it could be something far more simple. Good marketing communications tell a story and use emotion and personal examples to stimulate interest.
Most markets are saturated with similar products and services, and the way to beat the competition is to make your company stand out. A very small difference could put you streets ahead. The obvious approach is to be the cheapest, but customers are more sophisticated nowadays, and other strategies can work better. Take a look at successful companies like Apple, and consider what makes them stand out from the competition.
Just a couple of years ago social media marketing was seen as a passing fad. Sites and services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are now part daily life, and they are incredibly powerful marketing tools if used in the right way. Social media can be used to identify and market to very specific customer groups for very little cost. Sites like Facebook allow you to develop conversations with customers and prospects, and you can capture feedback and ideas in an instant. Social media allow you to develop your company’s brand and to establish yourself as an expert in unique and interesting ways.
Technology and the way we do business has changed beyond recognition over the past decade, and marketing has had to adapt at a rapid pace. Traditional marketing skills still have value, but the modern marketer has to develop new skills to respond to change.