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Who what why where to start with marketing

“The right product, in the right place, at the right time.” 

“The right message, to the right person, at the right time.”

The world of marketing is awash with these ‘strategies’.

It’s also a world of great variation, one with many different views of what marketing actually is, even from marketers themselves, because there’s quite an assortment of flavours out there..

Digital Marketers

Marketers that plan

Brand Marketers

Campaign planners

Social Media Marketers

Marketers that develop products

Content Marketers

Dare I say it, Bull Shit Marketers

It can be an overwhelming subject for small business owners, what on earth do you focus on and when?

So although us marketers can chant our mantras “the right message, to the right person, at the right time”, how do you, as a small business owner make sure that you’re hiring the right marketer at the right time. And even if you are not hiring someone to help with your marketing, you still have to work out what type of marketer you have to be for your business. You have to be the right type of marketer at the right time.

Hiring (or being) the wrong type of marketer at the wrong time can be one of the reasons why business owners have been known to mutter the words “marketing doesn’t work”. And you know what, some of them are right, it doesn’t. The wrong marketing at the wrong time doesn’t work.

Just the other week at a networking event, I was talking to a business owner who had invested heavily in their website, predominately search engine optimisation. From the brief chat I had with them it was evident that this had been a classic example of the wrong marketer at the wrong time.

Hundreds of pounds spent, no increase in traffic, even though sufficient time had passed to start seeing results. I appreciate there are two sides to every story, but I’m using a bit of artistic licence to illustrate a point. In this instance, before turning to a Digital Marketer, the basics should have been in place, the marketing foundations should have been built.

It’s a regular occurrence in online networking groups, where a small business owner expresses concern over their ability to attract new clients. These posts are often met with a constant barrage of “advice” for the original poster business owner

“PM me, I’ll help you with Google Ads”

“Contact me, you need to be doing Facebook Ads”

I’ve chipped in myself on occasions and asked the business owner if they have the basics in place. The answer is often no, but they know they should. Spending money on paid for media is the last thing you should be considering if you haven’t got the basics in place.

It’s a bit like getting a painter and decorator in to paint your walls in Farrow & Ball ‘Sulking Room Pink’ before the plasterer has been to address the massive craters in your plaster work. Utterly pointless. The shoddy finish is by no means a true reflection of the decorators’ talents, he was just hired at the wrong point in the process. The wrong tradesman at the wrong time.

The industry has to accept the part it plays, and any self-respecting marketer should tell you if they think you haven’t got the basics in place, they should be prepared to challenge you, after all, you’re hiring them as an expert. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen, some people are just happy to take your money, regardless of whether your business will see any benefit in return.

If you’re a start-up or early stage business, first and foremost you need to be what I’ll refer to as a ‘Basic Marketer’. Strategic in nature, they focus on the fundamentals, the basics, good old vanilla flavour. Some people don’t like the word basic. It’s boring, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t get the pulse racing like all the flash digital marketing tools out there.

But you know what basic is synonymous with? Vital.

When we miss the vital steps in developing our marketing strategy, getting a return from our investment, whether that be time, money or both, is always going to be an uphill struggle. There is little point being any different type of marketer, until you have the basics in place.

You’ve got to get the plasterer in before you start splashing that expensive ‘Sulking Room Pink’ paint on your walls…yes, that is actually on Farrow & Ball’s colour chart.

So, what are the basics? What are the vital steps?

First and foremost, know WHO you’re talking to, because if you don’t know who you’re talking to, how do you know how to talk to them and where to find them?

Get specific about who it is you want to work with, who it is you want to help, who will benefit the most from what you have to offer. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t be all things to all people’, and it’s exactly the same for your business too.

You need to determine who your ideal customer is, this is WHO you should be talking to.

It seems obvious, but it’s something that is often bypassed.

Your next vital step is making it clear WHY you’re talking to them. What’s the problem that you solve for them? Why should they pick you over your competitors? What is it that you are offering them? Basically, why should they listen to you?

It’s a good question to ask yourself if you want to test your own WHY. Can you convince yourself as to why people should listen to you? Without a convincing ‘why’ you’re just more noise in a crowded market place and your message will go unheard, most likely because your message is too similar to a lot of other people out there.

Take a moment to think about the number of marketing messages that you are bombarded with as a consumer on a daily basis. Studies vary, but it’s suggested the number of messages runs into the thousands. So, as a business, your WHY needs to make you memorable in all of that noise.

If your ideal customer doesn’t know your WHY, then it doesn’t exist. Don’t assume that people will work out what you are good at, they really don’t have the time….remember all of those messages they are being bombarded with!

Next you need to define HOW you’re doing to talk to them. What type of content do they like to consume? Do they prefer videos, podcasts, blogs, social media, webinars, presentations, face-to-face meetings? Really understanding WHO it is you want to talk to, makes it much easier to determine HOW the content you produce is going to fit into their lives.

The HOW stage is when you could start to introduce other types of marketing or marketer, and start to determine how those tools and tactics will benefit your business. Tools and tactics need to work for your business, knowing your WHO and WHY is a big step to working out which ones will do just that.

When you know HOW you’re going to talk to them, you can turn your attention to WHERE those conversations should take place. That could be at networking events, exhibitions, LinkedIn, Facebook, your own website, online groups, offline groups…you get the idea, there’s countless options. There are so many places that you could be, but you should only focus on those where you know your ideal customer will be.

You’ll be in a much better place to start engaging with marketing specialists when you get to this point, or as a DIY Marketer (and I don’t mean you market stuff for B&Q) you’ll be more confident in your choice of tools and tactics. You’ll be more confident that you’ve got the right marketer at the right time.

And when you progress from the basics, whatever type of Marketer you engage with, always make sure you set objectives and align expectations. The disillusion with marketing often stems from miscommunication and misunderstanding between service provider and client. Even though you may have the right marketer at the right time, misaligned expectations can result in these projects being perceived as a failure.

So, always set an objective and make sure you can measure the return you’re getting from your investment in marketing. A good marketer will manage your expectations without taking ‘the you know what’, and should not be wary of setting objectives. Whether it’s lead generation you’re after, increased conversions, or list building, make sure you can measure it. As Peter Drucker said “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Sometimes to move forwards we have to go back to basics, it’s not boring, it’s vital. Jumping straight into being a Digital Marketer might make you feel like you’re making progress, but without the basics in place first you’ll find yourself re-doing your website copy countless times, swapping and changing tactics, trying new tools, and basically creating a marketing monster.

Start by being a ‘Basic Marketer’. Start by defining WHO it is you want to talk to and give them a damn good reason as to WHY they should listen.

At Verve we ALWAYS get under your skin we find out the WHY, the WHO and the WHERE.


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