As we launch into a new year with just as many unknowns as there are hopes and aspirations for our businesses, it’s always a good thing to recalibrate and redefine things to prepare ourselves for a new chapter. Whether you’re a business owner, program director, or a closet creative hoping for your next break, how we put ourselves out there makes a difference, if not the most important difference, in how we succeed. In this post, we’ll define marketing, show a few examples of how it’s used in business today, and provide 5 ways for getting started with marketing.
Why is Marketing Important?
As an introverted person, I am often off-put by the stereotypical marketing that seems to pervade media. However, I’ve recently heard marketing described as an absolute necessity for a business to survive and simply a way to help connect people with the products or services they need. When you put it that way, marketing doesn’t have to mean we’re selling out or trying to convince people of something that isn’t true. It can be the honest act of presenting myself as a helpful resource or solution. I can get behind that.
In their 2021 State of Marketing report, Hubspot wrote “2021 is the year of growing brand authenticity and optimizing for the customer or prospect experience, building relationships rather than prioritizing sales or traditional marketing campaigns.” We’re finding that customers are resonating with and responding to a more authentic and personal reach. When companies convey who they are and care about who they serve, they win business. When your marketing leads with genuinely connecting, converting naturally happens. This is much more rewarding.
One study by Nielsen showed that 92% of people are more likely to make a purchase when receiving a recommendation by word-of-mouth. Unless you know everyone in town, people are not likely to recommend you unless they hear about you. This is why marketing, at least the way we’re talking about it here, is so vital. How will people know unless you say something? A common practice is for businesses to allocate 20% of their budget to marketing, yet without an understanding or at least a path forward, many businesses don’t even start.
5 Ways to Start Marketing
If you’re reading this and you realize you’ve been going about marketing in a way that betrays who you are or you’re like me and you cross your fingers every day hoping someone will magically find you and offer you money just for existing, you might be a bit overwhelmed. That’s a good thing. Disruption can be the start of something new. Something good. Here are 5 ways to start or restart your marketing today.
- Define Your Customer – If you don’t know who you’re after, you are likely wasting time, energy, and resources, going after everyone. Seth Godin calls these people your “Minimum Viable Audience.” If you can identify who is the smallest group that could sustain your work or your business and go all out in reaching them, you’ll have better chances of making a connection and you’ll feel better about giving them what they want. Because they want it! Who is your target customer?
- Put Yourself Out There – Choose 2 or 3 platforms where you can host information and media about your company or organization online. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get your name out and have a place where you can point people to find you. We recommend a website and social media. You can set up a domain and website hosting for as cheap as $4.95 a month at Bluehost. There are even user-friendly platforms like Squarespace that make it even easier to get started. Can people easily find you if they wanted to?
- Tell Stories – Whether it’s how you came up with your latest recipe or a team member’s outfit of the day, share it with your audience. A good backstory always makes a movie that much more compelling for me. Share yours! Big or small, if people see you actively sharing happenings of your business or organization, they equate that to activity and approachability. Two great things to help them connect with you and hopefully make a decision to buy or sign up! Are you sharing the little stories that are in between your customer’s needs and what you’re offering?
- Ask Questions – I’m always drawn to people and businesses who genuinely care about how they’re doing and what they can do better. Aren’t you? It conveys care and commitment to their craft that is so special. Whether your dive into market research and conduct focus groups or you simply ask one of your regulars their opinion, asking questions and allowing the answers to inform new ways of operating or connecting with your target customer is invaluable to marketing. Do you know how you’re doing?
- Make An Offer – This is often the point where businesses either gas out and leave their customers hanging without any low-hanging fruit to pick or they suddenly morph into a sleazy used car salesman, suffocating prospects with bottom line, transactional interactions that seem rushed and forced. If you’ve followed steps one through four and identified your target customer, have genuinely put yourself out there, and shared your story, it’s just a matter of providing the next steps. Give them a discount, ask them to set up a call, or simply let them know what you can do for them. Is it easy for your customer to accept your offer?
I hope that we can reframe marketing and engage in it with more confidence and creativity this year. If we do a little research, communicate our story, and make offers to our target audience, we’re marketing. If you do it with creativity and heart, you’re storytelling. If we put away our negative stereotypes of marketing and begin to see it as a vital function of business success and an exciting way to be more involved, we can all be more fulfilled in our work and move forward with not only hype but with substance.
I would be remiss to not make an offer myself. Lifted is passionate about building impactful brands and telling compelling stories. If this approach to marketing highlights a lack of investment in your marketing or inspires a way forward for you to be alive and active in sharing your story and offerings, we want to help. Sign up below to schedule a call with our team to talk through some ways we can help you connect with your audience. Let’s create together!