Marketing is the process of coming up with a strategy to make your product or service known to the public, or at least that portion of the public that you are targeting. So, the first step is to determine who is your target audience. Once you have determined that you can work on coming up with at strategy for promoting your product or service to that group.
Once you have identified your target group, you next have to determine how to reach them with your message – the Internet, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, mailings, telemarketing or business networking. Let's take a look at some ideas for each of these.
Internet – If the Internet is a way to reach your target audience you can accomplish this by creating a web page and/or writing a blog. In both of these cases you usually have to offer some incentive for people to come to your page or blog as well as promote the page or blog. You can also run banner ads and/or Google type ads on other websites promoting your product or service and directing them to your website to make the purchase. You can also write articles for e-zines which contain a link to your website.
Newspapers – Here it is important to find newspapers that your target audience reads. If you look around, most communities have both one or more major dailies as well as other smaller, specialized papers. Determine which one or ones are best for your target audience and advertise in them. Part of this decision may be budgetary in that, for this type of advertising, repetition counts so you must run the ad regularly. Other options for newspapers are press releases and writing articles or a daily or weekly column. Press releases have to have a news angle but that is easy to come up with especially for the smaller papers which are looking for information to publish. Press releases can be written to announce a new product, the hiring of a new managerial level employee, the opening of a new location, reaching a major annual sales or revenue goal, etc. The major papers may edit and cut your press release but the smaller ones will usually print it as you wrote it so long as the quality of the writing is good. Other options, especially with smaller papers, is to write occasional articles or a regular column. The article or column cannot be a plug for your product or service but can, actually should, be informational and deal with topics related to you product or service and should also identify you and your company in the by line or at the end of the article. For example, if you sell financial services write a column about personal finance and investing, if you are a lawyer write about legal issues, if you sell used cars write about what to look for when buying a car and how to maintain you car to keep its value, etc. The fact that you work in the industry you are writing about will give credibility to you writing and the writing will both make you and your product known as well as enhance the reputation of your business in your customer's eyes.
Radio and TV – these are usually short spots and you generally need professional production help. Some radio and TV stations will provide production assistance as a part of their advertising package. The smaller the station the lower the prices will be but make sure that the message will reach your audience. Again, with smaller stations, especially radio, there can be opportunities to have your own show which will promote your business, however you will probably have to pay for it by sponsoring it or sharing the sponsorship with others whom you recruit to sponsor it. Depending upon your business you may be able to reduce the cost of radio and TV advertising by paying for part in cash and part in services. This works especially well for restaurants as TV and radio sales people have to entertain clients by taking them out to eat. By paying for part of your advertising with food vouchers helps you in two ways, first it reduces your cash cost and, second, you end up having the sales people introduce their clients to your business.
Mailings and Telemarketing – depending on your business, these may work. They can be expensive in that if you get a 10% response (actual sales will probably be lower) you are considered to be doing good with these. Most people will simply throw out the mailing without reading it and hang up on the telemarketer. But it works sometimes so these two should be considered.
Business Networking – this involves getting involved in the community by attending business and charitable functions that bring you into contact with potential business customers or people who can refer business to you. This can be fun if you enjoy meeting and talking with new people but you have to make sure your efforts in this area are productive and produce sales for your business.
There are many other ideas for marketing but the ones that I have discussed here should at least get you started with your marketing.
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