Marketing has evolved over the years and it has built upon the foundation of the 4 P's of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. You can read more on my views of the 4 P's of marketing in this blog post, but that won't be the focus of this post. The purpose of this article, is to pose the question, how do I market my business? In the high speed, fast moving, digital world we now live in, are you keeping pace with technology and the resources you need to promote, advertise, and market your business?
For most small businesses, it's difficult to find the time and resources to devote to marketing, let alone new marketing trends that seem to pop up every day. It's scary to think about the amount of time you'd have to devote, just to keep up on what's new and where your audience is. But to make this process much more focused, you should first create personas. Creating personas, or "person" descriptions of your target audience, will make marketing your business much easier. Instead of writing random blog posts where you aren't really sure who you're trying to appeal to, or signing up for every social network you can find, even though one or two might be the most effective in reaching your target audience, developing a list of personas will save you time and be significantly more useful to your business.
Beyond discovering your audience and what marketing activities would be best suited to reaching them, there is also certainly an ongoing learning curve. Social media in particular, mostly because it's still very new in the scheme of marketing, tends to be changing quickly for businesses. Promoting your business through Facebook in 2013 is vastly different than promoting your business even two or three years ago. So maybe you set up a Facebook page and let it start collecting dust. Or maybe you don't really know how to use the social media site effectively and you're not seeing the results you want and it's just making you discouraged about using social media at all.
So back to the question of what is the best way to market my business? For some people, catalog sales are still the best option for selling, for others, direct mail is not effective and word of mouth seems to be the best solution. The reality is, there is no magic answer to the question of what you should be doing to market your business, with one caveat: It is imperative for your business to be online. People start their research for a product or service online, and even if they receive a catalog, or hear a rave review from a friend, they will still go online to do some searching on their own.
One of the big shifts in marketing online today is the focus on building relevant, useful content that your target audience wants to read. This is human marketing, or the idea of relating to your audience and actually acting like a human being, instead of just being a machine with no personality.
The upside of the internet and marketing online is that is makes it so much easier to promote your business, products, and services. The downside is that it loses the emotional connection of going to a store and having human contact. A conversation with someone can go a long way to earning a customer, because it adds the emotional element.
By creating content, participating in social media, and making your website welcoming and personable, you will be far ahead of most in the world of marketing. So take a deep breath and relax in knowing that, as long as you are passionate about what you do, and you're willing to share that passion with others, then all of the technical updates and upgrades flying around you at the speed of light aren't the most important element of marketing you have to worry about. Be human and connect with your audience, that's what you should be doing to market your business. Online or in person, it comes down to the same things: people don't want to be sold to; they want to be treated like an intelligent human being; that is what they will respond to.