As originally featured in Sumter Living Magazine.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines marketing as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.
Given that definition; we are all in marketing. Whether the process or techniques used are good, bad or shotgun approach depend on several factors. Take a few minutes and evaluate your marketing process through these factors to see where you can tweak the process, making it better and therefore make your product or service more attractive.
What’s in a name? A catchy name can really help to boost you in the market place. Does your name explain what you do or is it confusing? A great name can help you build your brand and give you a great jumping off point for your marketing. Think about products, book titles, music albums - which ones do you remember, which ones were too generic to stick in your mind.
Before you can sell anything, you must decide who you are selling it to. Try defining who your ideal client is. There are some great worksheets and tutorials online or you can find a great marketing expert to walk you through the process. Some questions to ask are: What do we know about them? What do they want? What might keep them from buying? What problems do they need solved? Knowing the answers to some of these critical questions, can focus the types of marketing you use and the language you use in those avenues.
All businesses that really want to push their company to the top need to have an eye for design. Look around you at the logos, brochures, business cards, or book jackets that catch your eye. Many design hours have gone into polishing those marketing pieces so that when you see just a little part of them you know the company. Do your pieces stand out or are they interchangeable with your competitor? What about your social media? Are your posts done with an eye toward design?
Focus on what makes you different than others in your market. This is not to say, downgrade your competition by any means because putting someone else down to make your self look good never works. Find what makes you or your product and service unique, then focus on that. It may be the product, or your unique background of experience or even the way you approach solving a problem but think about it and then grow that originality. Set yourself apart.
How well do you know the channels you are using and are they the same ones your ideal clients are using? Do a little research into all the areas you use or might consider using; print, email marketing, social media platforms, websites, billboards, digital marketing and any other avenues. It is better to do less -than to do a lot poorly. A rarely used social media channel can do more harm than good. On the other hand, good ads across multiple channels reinforces your message.
Have you ever shopped somewhere or talked to a vendor and immediately felt like an outsider? Beware of insider language or lingo. Using language that only regular customers or those inside your organization know can quickly tell a new client – ‘you don’t fit in’. Talk in clear language without the use of abbreviations or jargon.
One of the biggest marketing mistakes, above all, is the lack of consistency. If your marketing efforts are different in every channel or avenue you use, it will take your ideal client twice as long to recognize your brand. Keep your logo, tagline and branding colors consistent across all channels of marketing. You have put in a lot of work (or money) into a great design, don’t mess around with the colors or by adding on to it for a holiday. For example, you absolutely want to wish your customers a Happy Fourth of July, but you won’t want to add an Uncle Sam Hat to your logo. You will rarely if ever see large corporate brands, such as Starbucks, Apple, or McDonald's, change up their company logo for holidays or special events. Change the ad, the wording or the promotion but keep the logo, colors of branding and tagline the same. Clear and consistent wins every time.
Looking at all of these at once might seem overwhelming but if you break it down into small pieces you can quickly push your marketing to the next level and rise above your competition. An overall plan for your marketing, will make your dollars and time stretch further and be well worth it in the long run.
Nancy Lee Zimpleman is the Founder and CEO of Sword Lily Marketing, a full-service marketing firm serving small businesses, non-profits and religious organizations. She has over 20 years of work in the marketplace and experience on both sides of the marketing coin. You can reach her at email@example.com or 803.236.4851.