The Five Steps of Marketing

The Five Steps of Marketing

I recently presented a lunch and learn for a South and East Des
Moines chamber member meeting that was so popular I’ve been asked to
write it down. So I thought you might enjoy it, too.

I coach clients everyday about what they could be doing to improve
their marketing. Though there are endless marketing opportunities I see,
they almost always fall within the following five steps to marketing.
Though they’ll seem basic and common-sense, the hard part about
marketing isn’t knowing what to do. It’s doing it. And, doing it well.
Fully. Over and over again!

5 (deceivingly) simple steps to great marketing:

1) Know who you are: Discover what makes you special, interesting, and worth seeking out.
Then determine what makes you relevant to the customer. Why do they
need you, especially at this time? This process is called brand
discernment and development. A strong, well-defined brand is crucial for
the next three steps.

2) Know who you’re going to market to: Unless you sell toilet paper, “everyone” is not your customer.
Determine who the “right” customer is for you. Hint, they probably look
a lot like your best (ie most profitable) customers now. Right
customers understand the value of what you offer and are willing to pay
for it—often! Do your research to find who those people are and where
they live and/or work. The more targeted your prospect list, the more
personalized and effective your marketing will be.

3) Talk to those people: Reach out to those “right” customers.
Talk to them directly. Use snail mail, social media, email, and
personal communication. But remember, if you’re not using their name,
it’s not direct communication. And then use indirect communication to
catch those right customers you may not have meet yet. Be as targeted
as you can be. Even very indirect communication like signage and a
shopping experience can be designed to resonate strongly with a
particular audience. The opportunities in this step are great. Use them
to talk not just about who you are and what you sell, but how you are a
part their life and community.

4) Let them talk back: Be accessible by having several ways for customers to reach out to you.
Be sure they know they’re welcome to email, post on your business
Facebook page, or leave blog comments. Or take your best customers to
lunch and ask them how you’re doing. Hand out feedback cards with a
coupon or even hang an old-fashioned suggestion box. Better yet, do all
of the above. But most importantly, read the comments you receive and
respond to them. Some feedback may be unflattering, so you may want to
have a plan for how you acknowledge criticism.

5) Repeat. All
of it. Go back to the beginning and go through every step. Look at each
with a fresh eye. Is there more you could be doing? Now that you have
some feedback, do you need to make some changes? Is the message right
but not getting through? Are you focusing on the right customer? You’re
not sacrificing new customers at the sake of current ones are you? Are
you talking to them in a way that’s being heard? Are they responding? If
not, why?

Don’t be afraid to try new things. What worked last year may not work
again this year. Study companies you admire. Can you take a page from
their playbook for your own marketing efforts?

Overwhelmed? Let us help you work though these steps and build a
marketing plan that makes the most of your limited resources (and who’s
aren’t limited!). We can help point out opportunities you may have
overlooked and help you with execution, tracking and follow-through. Our
design expertise can craft for you a customer brand experience that is
second to none.

So, know what you’re saying, to whom you’re saying it, say it, and
then let the recipient respond. That’s how marketing has happened since
before MBAs started calling it marketing. It’s still the same, even in
today’s virtual and global business environments. It’s simple to
embrace, but full of excitingly complex options to execute.

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