What Every Successful Entrepreneur Should Know About Marketing
Let’s pretend you want a strong marketing strategy for your company. The one that promotes value, not values promotion. Strong in its simplicity and effectiveness. Not strong yelling, but strong convincing. Able to enhance brand loyalty among your customers. That kind of strong.
In practice, marketing isn't that different from an online casino for many business owners. You go in thinking you need something fruitful, but leave feeling like you've thrown your money to the wind with no obvious effect. Why does it happen?
The answer is no brainer — there is no silver bullet in marketing. With a sea of options in the marketing world, you might feel like there is no clear path. In addition, marketing changes fast — I mean, lightning fast. One day, your non-mobile site is just fine. The next day you are flat on your back with decreasing traffic and fading conversion rates.
Being a busy entrepreneur, you can’t expect to know everything about marketing. There are many efforts that you need to do while growing your business. You have a team to manage, a product to develop and deals to close. You also want to make sure that you don’t waste your money aimlessly on so-called Marketing aka Growth-Hacking aka Shining-Guru-Tips-That-Give-You-Almost-Nothing. Below are a few most important things that entrepreneurs should know about marketing right now.
Position your product and validate your business idea.
You must believe in your business idea. But don’t forget to add a pinch of prudence into your efforts. What if your idea is not what the world has been waiting for? Save lots of your money and energy by positioning your product and validating your business idea.
The next step is business idea validation. It is the process of testing your concept before launching the actual product. Business idea validation consists of a wide variety of activities – everything from googling to asking your potential target audience for feedback. Idea validation helps you understand if people will be using your product.
Here is a simple blueprint of practical steps to verify your business idea:
1. Google your idea. That’s simple. Before you even get wrapped up in an idea, pull out your phone and do a thorough search to find out if it already exists. If you find it does, do not give up on your inspiration. Could your target market be satisfied better? Maybe there are ways to improve on the existing product? If you answered ‘yes,’ move on to the next step.
2. Do a competitive research and try to understand what is missing. Read forums and blog comments, do a Twitter search for relevant hashtags to collect feedback. What difficulties do people experience while using your rival’s product? Is there something they don’t like? Holding this small research, you will get some inspiring ideas for growing your product. You can take a look at a great visualization of competitive research here.
3. Build an MVP, or minimum viable product, to determine if it is a product you and others would really use. Once you have this working prototype, test it and ask others to test it as well. If it turns out to be a product that you and your friends would never use … Think about validating your business idea one more time.
Create a marketing plan but leave room for flexibility.
Some business founders might fall into the trap of thinking that marketing efforts are just skippable ads on Youtube or newsfeed promotions on Facebook. Actually, marketing itself is so much more than that. It includes everything from understanding the market to choosing specific tactics you will use to reach that market.
But when you lack a plan, you chaotically rely on random marketing strategies being guided by the principle ‘More is Better’. Alternatively, your marketing plan helps you wisely and systematically choose promotion strategies, and understand exactly that this 320×100 pixels large mobile banner doesn’t justify an investment and shows a low conversion rate.
You won’t develop an absolutely perfect marketing plan. Be prepared to improve it. Whether it’s your first promotion or an email campaign, chances are it will take a few attempts before you really hit the mark with consumers. The key is to measure, learn and adapt quickly.
You have to give your marketing strategy a long time before it will pay off. You need to be consistent. You need to market month after month. Your marketing plan is like a harvest. It needs time and great efforts to grow to bring you fruits.
Pal up with data for the glory of marketing.
Marketing used to be thought of as an art or craft. But today marketing becomes analytical, data-driven and measurable. For example, the majority of entrepreneurs is quick to invest into paid ad campaigns but a whopping 83% of businesses don’t even bother to measure their ROI from these efforts. So, make sure to equip your team with a powerful analytics tool to enable your team to measure marketing activities.
Replace lacking yet necessary marketing people with tools.
You never seem to have enough people on the marketing team. But there is an ocean of low-cost and free platforms that help increase marketing productivity and save time. They offer robust capabilities to streamline repetitive tasks and make it easier for your business to market, measure and optimize efforts.
- Social media management: Hootsuite (free for your first 3 social profiles), Buffer (a free plan lets you connect a profile from each network).
- SEO: Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Open Site Explorer, SEO Book, Keyword Tool.
- Design: Canva, Pablo, Gimp.
- Real-time analytics: Google Analytics, MixPanel (free for 25,000 events per month), Go Squared (free for the first 100 visitors and 1,000 data points).
- Website performance optimization: Inspectlet (free for 100 recorded sessions), SumoMe Content Analytics.
- Marketing team communication: Chanty, Slack, Flock.
You don't always need a trendy website.
The most important goal of any website is conversion and income. Design should always come second. Don't let a web agency convince you to spend money on a redesign if your existing website drives conversions effectively. Between times check your website navigation, speed, usability, content, but always focus on your business goals.
The majority of people are mobile addicted. Meet them there.
Every person keeps a smartphone in their hand. All your potential customers are mobile users who will approach your content through their mobile devices. If your website and content load too long or don’t look good on the mobile screens, you will fail to convert smartphone users into your customers. Once they become impatient, they will never come back.
Thus, work on mobile-responsiveness of your website in order to increase the conversion rate. Mobile users will never put their smartphones aside to use a laptop to access your content.
There are many ways to make your website mobile-friendly. For instance, you may use short headlines to adjust them in small screens of mobile and you can also use different navigation options that go well with smartphones.
Develop your brand story, not sinking in endless brand perfection.
Coca-Cola does not win the taste test. Apple does not have the most powerful devices. Brands win. Launching a product without developing a compelling and authentic brand story, is a huge mistake. Without it, you won’t differ from the rivals and convey your value to your target audience.
On the other hand, many businesses spend months, sometimes years, polishing up their product without showing it to the public.Investing in your brand perfection too early will result in throwing your money to the wind. Branding will naturally evolve as you get closer to fitting your market and customers, taking into account their opinions and feedback. So, implement an agile, iterative method to your brand’s development.
Using common marketing channels, don’t forget about non-traditional ones.
Your acquisition strategy may include some classic marketing practices. A hundred to one, a corporate blog. For sure, Facebook and Google ads. Probably, email marketing. Maybe, guest posting. Let’s spice up a little bit your marketing efforts with:
Focus on connecting with people who already have that influence and credit of trust: journalists, community leaders, market influencers and everyone in between. That will help you to spread a word about your business around the world.
2. Reddit Advertising.
Reddit is often ignored as a paid marketing channel though it is very affordable and always worth trying out. This social network isn’t suitable for every business niche. But if your audience use Reddit, its granular audiences may help you target your prospects quite efficiently.
Let’s be honest, we all waste time reading weird stuff on Quora. It is amazingly easy to lose hours reading user-generated answers on different topics. At the same time,Quora could be a perfect marketing tool, especially for B2B entrepreneurships. In fact, tons of questions and answers on Quora are promotional. You can do the same creating the awareness for your brand. All you need is initiate a discussion on a particular topic or start answering questions related to your product.
4. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups.
Many LinkedIn and Facebook groups seem to consist of cheesy real-estate salesmen. Nevertheless, some niche groups are a great chance for you to find high-level professionals who are decision-makers in your industry. Cost of this type of ultra-targeted promotion? Next to nothing.
In short, find relevant groups, start conversations, take part in heated discussions and pique group members’ curiosity about your product.
Effective marketing is an essential ingredient to the overall success of a business. In order to make your marketing efforts effective, try to:
1. Position your product clearly and validate your business idea before any development.
2. Make your marketing data-driven. Data is your best friend who will never lie.
3. Benefit from online marketing tools that are often low-cost or even free.
4. Strive for effectiveness, not design trends, when it comes to web presence.
5. Use an iterative method to your brand development.
6. Spice your marketing efforts up with unusual channels: Reddit Ads, Quora, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, influencers.
That’s it! Following these tips will help to ensure your business has the best possible chance for success. What about you? What are your top insights and takeaways on marketing? Drop a line in the comment section below!