Make your market

Countryman

Good marketing happens when a business knows its brand, its unique selling proposition and its target market. These three elements combined give you a powerful tool to drive more customers, and most importantly, the right kind of customers, to your business.

What is marketing?

According to businessdictionary.com it’s “a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs”.

It’s about creating and communicating your brand. Importantly though, you can’t market effectively unless you know what you’re marketing and the most effective ways to market it, and that means doing some business planning first.

What benefits can a business get from good marketing?

Businesses market to maintain their market share, grow their customer base and maintain their relationship with existing clients — keeping ‘top of mind’ position. They also use marketing to create product awareness, influence customer behaviour and reinforce the business’ reputation.

So what is a brand, really?

A brand is the impression of a product, service, company or person held by existing or potential customers.

It’s psychological not physical and goes above and beyond the direct, tangible benefits that customers get from having your product or service.

Branding sets competitors apart — it allows your customers to find you in the crowd because you stand out from the rest.

Successful branding actually adds value to the product or service you are offering in your customers’ minds and influences their behaviour accordingly, such as their:

•Willingness to consider buying from you.

•Likelihood of choosing you over your competitors.

•Willingness to pay more for your product or service than the standard price.

•Loyalty to your product over your competitors.

•Word of mouth referrals and recommendations.

Most important, having a strong brand frees you from competing on price.

Everything you do, say, print, write, wear and provide, should be consistent with your brand message.

Unique selling propositions

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the essence of your brand — the benefits that clients will get from your product or service alone.

Here are some well known USP examples:

•It’s the real thing — Coca-Cola.

•Diamonds are forever — DeBeers.

•The ultimate driving machine — BMW.

These companies have all decided at some point that the specific benefits of their products their customers will receive are — at DeBeers it’s that magic moment captured for all time, at Coke it’s the original and best, not an imitation.

Your USP is your marketing holy grail — it’s what will automatically drive customers to your door.

Identifying your own USP

What does your market want which your competitors are not adequately addressing and which you could deliver?

If you can answer this question, you have found your niche — your opportunity.

It might help here to think about ‘pain points’, things that people find frustrating or annoying in their daily lives.

Many companies, for instance, are researching ways to make laptop batteries last longer to alleviate the ‘pain’ of constantly having them go flat. Pain points are brilliant opportunities to market the benefits of your brand.

Your USP must be unique to your business, it must be positive (a benefit), it must be something that you can maintain for a long time to come (don’t guarantee delivery in 24 hours unless you really can, and can do it without killing yourself), it must be something that your customers genuinely need and it must be communicated consistently every time you interact with a customer.

Target markets

Every business has a target market or markets. It’s vital that you know what yours is or are so that you can communicate with them in the most relevant and effective ways.

Markets can be segmented in many ways, such as on demographics (customers of a certain age), gender, culture, product, location, industry or function and customer values.

Consider your customers to see if they fall into specific groups — do you have government as well as corporate customers? Do you sell products that would primarily appeal to females? Or to children?

Having this knowledge allows you to be specific in the way you communicate your brand to your markets.

Be consistent

Remember to always be consistent — you should be communicating your brand and your USP in every interaction you have with clients and potential clients.

And last, always thank your clients for doing business with you. Don’t risk them becoming one of the 68 per cent of customers who leave due to perceived indifference.

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