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In the digital age, marketing fundamentals are the crucial differentiator

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More and more I hear from entrepreneurs whose marketing just isn’t working. They lament that this social media platform does nothing for them or that newspaper ad doesn’t bring in enough business for the money it costs. Why? they ask.

The most likely cause is they’re not following fundamental marketing principles. While new channels, platforms and tools continue to emerge, the recipients of this marketing (a.k.a. your customers) really haven’t changed all that much.

Whether they’re millennials or boomers, the same buying concepts still apply as much as they did during the Mad Men years. What has changed, however, is that today’s customer has the entire world at their fingertips.

The 4 P’s plus more…

In marketing, the concept of the 4 P’s has been around forever. They are:

  • Price;
  • Product;
  • Promotion;
  • Place.

What they represent are the key things that customers need to understand about any product or service to make a purchase decision. They can be presented to customers in a myriad of ways, but these important fundamentals never change and entrepreneurs must never lose sight of them.

Do you present your customers with, and encourage them to learn more about, your 4 P’s? Really think about that for a minute.

“We have the BEST customer service just for YOU!” I hear this one a lot and guess what? Your competition says the same thing.

“Check out our latest high quality product, only $19.99.” That’s great, now I know the price and that it’s high quality, according to you. I’m sure you’ll get around to the rest of the P’s eventually.

In the 1960s, consumers were no less intelligent than they are today, but they were much more likely to take your word that you had great customer service or a high quality product. Today, few people will believe your messages or even take notice of them unless you can grab and keep their attention.

Blind promotion vs. targeted selling

Every entrepreneur needs to begin with the basics to market their business effectively. You need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What problems do our products/services solve and what value do they bring to our customers? (product)
  • Do we have customer segments that have different needs or wants from our products/services? (product)
  • Is our pricing attractive to our customers relative to the perceived value we provide? (price)
  • Do we need a discounting or promotion strategy to increase new customer interest? (price)
  • What are the key messages that will attract target customers to our brand? (promotion)
  • Which channels/platforms/media/tactics can we use to reach our target customers in adequate numbers at a price we can afford? (promotion)
  • Will customer characteristics have an impact on the effectiveness of our sales campaigns (age, gender, income level, location, more)? (place)
  • Can our target customers easily access our product/service from their locations (i.e. direct sales, retailers, distributors, e-Commerce, other)? (place)

Good marketing sets up a business for increased sales. It leads to customer awareness and opens the door for sales conversations. BUT the devil is most definitely in the details.

Compelling messages or just more noise?

Are you providing me with compelling information? Do you have an interesting way to interact with me as your customer (feel free to substitute entertaining for interesting)? Are you giving me critical information (based on the 4 P’s) as I begin making my buying decision? Are you able to distribute that content, whatever it is, on the right channels to get the audience you want? (BTW—this is a big one!)

Simply telling me how great you are or how much money you can save me is noisy. Everybody, and I do mean EVERYBODY, is doing that. So. Much. Noise.

If you help solve my problem or provide me with valuable information or actually converse with me in the places where I spend my time it might help convince me that you’re better than the rest.

It’s easy to complain about lacklustre results when you keep posting pictures of your products in the hands of super happy people or pay for a commercial that shows your building, logo and phone number. These are messages that don’t break through the clutter and the noise. They are phone-it-in marketing.

The art and the science

Marketing is both an art and a science. The science is price, product, promotion and place. You need these foundational pieces entirely mapped out. Those that understand this have a much better chance at winning. The art, however, is actually taking the time to understand who your customers are; figure out what they really need to know about you; determine how someone comes to purchase your product or service; and then being so charming that they can’t resist you.

Get the fundamentals nailed down and then learn how to be attractive to your target customers. That will become your recipe for success.

We love to hear stories from entrepreneurs who have evolved their sales and marketing messages to attract their best customers. Have you used an approach like this? Did it pay off? Tell us what you think.

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