Five Indispensable Marketing Tips

Marketing is a very strange and complex animal, half nerdish data analyst, nose buried in an endlessly-scrolling Excel document, half wacky creative type, eager to experiment and shake things up a little. It’s little wonder there’s so much confusion out there about just what marketing is and isn’t. Most practitioners agree on the fundamentals but practically come to blows over the specifics.

What follows is a little of both, five indispensable marketing tips, drawn from the fundamentals and from my own unique experience as a Chartered Marketer.

1. Know Your Competitors
Many businesses are utterly product focused. They envision a widget, they create the very best widget they possibly can and then they attempt to sell said widget to the widget-buying public. Whilst all of this is not only valuable but essential, when it becomes the driving force and number one obsession of a business, the consequences can be dire to say the least.

You must put your widget in context, so to speak. Find out who your nearest competitors are in the widget market. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? How does your widget differ from theirs? Why should anyone buy your widget when there are already five other perfectly respectable widget producers on the market? How can you learn from your competitors’ successes? How can you exploit their weaknesses?

2. Know Your Customer
The customer is king. Or queen. They should be at the very heart of everything you do. So, who are they precisely? They’re not simply somebody who happens to buy your product. They are a particular type of person with their own particular interests and requirements. Take every opportunity to find out as much about your customer as you possibly can. This information, once collated and analysed is absolutely invaluable, enabling you not only to tailor your offer to their expectations, but to shape your business to their needs.

At the risk of sounding blunt, anyone can sell a product. Creating and, more importantly, keeping a customer requires not only skill but knowledge. Take a look at Tesco if you want to see just how powerful knowing your customer can be.

3. Decide on Your Message
Businesses often trip over themselves to offer as much as possible to their customers. They want to be seen as the cheapest, the best, the most original, the longest established… Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to be all things to all people when it comes to marketing. You have to decide where you’re going to position yourself in the market and then stick to it.

ASDA for example focus on competitive pricing, Marks and Spenser focus on quality. If either were to attempt to offer both, the customers would soon become confused, disillusioned and irritated. Customers want and need clarity and certainty.

4. Use Multiple Marketing Channels
A focused approach to your message doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself with regard to the messenger. There are a whole host of marketing channels out there. From direct mail and outdoor advertising to email marketing and social media. Give full and careful consideration to the benefits of each. If you know both your customer and your competitors, you should already have a good idea which methods are likely to be effective and which are not. Think of each marketing channel as a communication device, then ask yourself if, potentially, your customer is at the other end of that communications device.

5. Test, Analyse and Refine
Once you begin marketing in earnest, it is absolutely vital that you capture data. You want to know precisely which marketing channels your customers are using and what the outcome of that usage is. Simply knowing that you’re doing a lot of marketing and selling a lot of product isn’t enough, even if your profits are skyrocketing. Use the data to test the effectiveness of each channel. Make improvements. Test again. Make more improvements. In short the ratio of marketing-spend to profitability will shift very much in profitability’s favour.

Thank you for your time, and best of luck.

Marianne Stuart-Smith is a Chartered Marketer with 10 years broad-based marketing experience in asset management, working for the likes of HBOS, Fidelity International and Legal & General. She also has senior experience as Head of Marketing in the legal sector, providing full service strategic marketing.

Marianne is the proprietor of Incisive Marketing a Liverpool marketing consultancy offering a comprehensive marketing service, including strategic marketing, marketing communication, copywriting and business development.