One of the things you’ll hear from people in marketing is that “the product is not going to sell itself.” You have got to market. And that is certainly true to a certain extent. But priority number one must be to make the product as good as it possibly can be. You have got to have a great product first.
The Internet has made this truth even more important, thanks to the impact of social media and customer reviews. If you have a limited marketing budget or don’t market at all but have a great product, then the few people who do find your business will love it. They’ll love your product and have a great experience. Then they’ll tell other people about it. They post positive comments on review sites and share their experience on Facebook and Twitter. So if your product is great, people will find out; that’s where you should start.
Your next task should be working on your website. For the people who go online to find your product, your website should be an easy, informative experience. It should provide them all the information they are looking for in an easy to navigate format. Your website should do a good job of converting web traffic to sales, so that the people who do find you then decide to buy the product.
At this point, you’re ready to invest in doing the advertising and marketing to bring the traffic to your website. By the time you start really spreading the word to masses of people, you have a great website for them to visit and a great product that you know they’ll love.
All too often, people get it backwards, though. We fall victim to the allure of marketing and advertising before our product or service is ready. People find out about your business through your marketing, come to your website or storefront, and buy the product—but they have a negative experience. Then those people will post negative reviews, creating a huge product and branding problem. So start with the product first, ensuring that your word of mouth business will be strongly positive.
But if you do things in the right order, then you should be ready to market your business. When that time comes, you should have an organized plan.
Understand who you are.
You should understand your business’s identity. Thinking about your business, identify your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Be sure to get input from your business partners, employees, friends, and family, too.
Identify opportunities and threats.
Opportunities are things like new or niche markets that you could reach into, trends favoring your business, or technological developments that your business stands to benefit from. Your threats, on the other hand, might be competitors, technology changes hurting your business, or windows of opportunity for launching your product or service. Identify these opportunities and threats, and the prioritize them.
Identify your target market.
Who is your product or service built for? Who has the problems that your product or service is designed to solve? Once you’ve identified who these groups of people are, try to anticipate their thinking and what messages are most likely to resonate.
Create an actionable plan.
Once you’ve put together all this information, it’s time to act. Focus on marketing to people who most embrace your business’s identity and reside in your target market.