You’ve got your business, you’ve got your budget, and you’ve got your product, but how are you going to attract consumers? The answer comes in the form of marketing.
Simply put, marketing is the process of how your business connects with its target audience. The Oxford English Dictionary divides marketing into three categories: placing a product on the market, seeking to increase sales of said product, and promoting the product’s public image. We can categorize this even further into the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
Product: What Are You Selling?
Once you have a product in mind, ask yourself what that product is. While this may seem like a silly question, it’s important to consider the role your product will play on the consumer scale. What makes your product stand out from the rest? If it's filling a need, why should that need be filled? If it’s like other products, what makes yours stand out from the rest?
If you’ve already answered these questions and created your product, it might be worthwhile to get feedback from people in your target audience before releasing your product to the market.
Wait, Who’s Your Audience?
It’s not enough to have a product to sell; you also need to determine who would benefit the most from it. To do this, it helps to think of the population’s different demographics. Some examples could include:
- Age: Apparel company Forever 21 has an adolescent/young adult audience, while a company like St. John’s Bay is consumed by older individuals.
- Marital Status: The online dating website OkCupid does not market itself toward married couples or those in an established relationship.
- Income: Consumers consider brands like Gucci and Ferrari to be luxury brands, while Old Navy and Honda promote themselves as brands for the average individual.
- Ethnicity/Cultural Background: Indian cosmetics company Iba creates products that are halal for Muslim communities.
- Occupation: Websites like Chegg and Wyzant offer services that directly cater to college students.
- Location: People can use online services like Amazon and Spotify internationally because of the nature of the companies.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the users of your product are not always the buyers. The apparel store Gymboree specializes in clothes for children, but the ones who will be buying their products are the parents.
Price: How Do You Compare?
It’s not enough to have or provide your product to others. Pricing also plays a huge role in determining the well-being of not only your product but your business as well.
- Take into account the cost of developing your product. This includes both material costs and the cost of labor to produce your product.
- Research your competitors. If you are looking at entering an already established market, take a look at what other businesses are charging for their products.
- Determine the price consumers are willing to pay. After deciding who your target audience is, learn their spending habits.
Pricing your product can be a difficult process. If the price is too high, you will deter much of your target audience. On the other hand, pricing your product too low will cause you to spend more money than you gain.
Place: Where Should You Be Selling?
You can’t just create a product and slap a sale sticker on it; where your product is sold matters greatly. Consider not just the geographical location of your business but also the reach that you want your product to have.
Consider the accessibility of your product by its target audience. Having a traditional local storefront is a great way to reduce transportation costs on your product, but using online services or mail-order catalogues can increase domestic and international demand.
Another thing to consider is the number of channels that separate you from the buyer. Some businesses sell directly to consumers, while some elect to sell through retailers or wholesalers in order to reach the desired audience. This also applies to the ever-expanding world of online sales. Does it make sense to sell your product on your own website, or would it be better to use an online retailer like Amazon as your marketplace?
Place can also refer to the timing of your product. It’s why educational companies like Mcgraw-Hill release their textbooks before the start of a school year. Think about the climate of the buying market: what is your audience looking for right now?
What will they be looking for a month from now? A year? Ten years? While marketing has a lot to do with getting a product out in the present, it is also critical to think about the near and distant future.
Promotion: Why Is Your Product Important?
Once you’ve decided on the back room logistics of your marketing plan, it’s time to work on the visible portion of your business’s strategy. Promotion includes advertising, public relations (PR), and sales promotions. The goal of this marketing P is to show potential consumers why your product is worth buying.
Place and promotion often go hand in hand. To effectively promote in places that best reach your target audience, consider the following approaches:
- Storefront displays: Garner more local appeal with a brick-and-mortar store with eye-catching window exhibits that showcase your products.
- Social media marketing: Having accounts across social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram help to connect you directly with a widespread audience.
- Email marketing: Attract potential clients and reward returning clients by keeping them updated with product information and sales through email.
- Search engine marketing: Use applicable keywords on your website to reach those who are searching for a product like yours.
- Television marketing: Taking out short ads on applicable television stations can help you narrow in on your target audience based on their viewing habits.
Marketing is about getting out your product or service to the right audience, at the right place, and at the right time. It is not just about telling consumers what your product does but also telling them why they need to invest in what you’re selling.
By creating and maintaining a careful marketing plan that checks off all of these boxes, you can take your business out of the shadows and onto a larger stage.