Many creative entrepreneurs feel that marketing is the biggest challenge in their small business. But marketing doesn’t have to be confusing or overwhelming. Understanding a few marketing basics will better equip you to promote your creative business with confidence.
What is Marketing?
Simply put, marketing is communication from a business to a consumer, usually for the purpose of presenting a sales opportunity.
Many people focus on the word “sales” in this statement, but the most important word here is actually “communication”. Your marketing should be about communicating with current and potential customers.
Basic 1 – Marketing is an Act of Service
This is the first and most important marketing basic on this list.
If you look at all of your marketing efforts as an act of service towards your customers, you are less likely to come across as “salesy.” You want your audience to find your marketing message helpful.
If you truly believe that what you have to offer will benefit your customer, you will be able to market to them with honesty and integrity.
If you don’t believe that what you are selling will be beneficial to them, and instead focus on what the customer can do for you, your message will lack heart and will fall flat.
Once you orient your mindset to focus on how your marketing is helping your customer rather than yourself, marketing becomes an opportunity rather than a chore.
If you knew that someone had a problem that was hurting them, and you had a solution to that problem that could take their pain away, wouldn’t telling them about it be the right thing to do?
Types of Marketing
There are so many types of marketing, we could write an entire book on just this topic. However, I want to focus on 3 main types of marketing that I believe will help you the most. External, Internal, and Content marketing.
Basic 2 – External Marketing is about getting appropriate attention and establishing credibility.
External marketing refers to marketing directed towards people outside of your community. These people do not know you yet and have no reason to listen to you until you give them one.
Before your marketing efforts can be effective, you have to convince people that you are worth listening to. There are several ways of doing this. Offering a free trial or sample is one low risk way of getting attention.
Paid advertising campaigns are also usually directed towards external marketing because they offer a way to get in front of people who do not know you and are not in your circle. You can also use social media for external marketing.
Basic 3 – Internal Marketing is about building the relationship between you and your audience.
Internal marketing refers to marketing directed towards people who are already members of your community. This means current customers, email subscribers, and to an extent, social media followers.
These people already have a relationship with you and already support your brand in one way or another.
This means you should be talking to them like they are friends because they know you, whether or not you have interacted personally with them. It also means offering value consistently and building trust.
These people have said they want to hear from you, so give them information worth listening to.
Basic 4 – Content marketing should focus on bringing value.
Content marketing refers to the use of “content”, or information contained within your created media, to grow and nurture your community. You can use content marketing effectively in both internal and external marketing efforts.
Every piece of content you make should bring value to your customer or potential customer. There are 4 ways to bring value to your audience. Your content can either educate, inspire, entertain, or convince.
Educate – Teaches your audience something
Inspire – Brings excitement and confidence to your audience
Entertain – Is fun to consume
Convince – Brings value through sales or action by the audience member.
A good content marketing strategy includes all four elements.
Marketing To Your Specific Audience
No matter which kind of marketing you are focusing on, your voice and message should be consistent. To market your brand effectively, you must understand who you are and what your brand stands for.
Basic 5 – Know Your WHY
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek
Knowing your WHY helps you reach the right customers and adds heart to your brand. If you don’t have a deeper reason for being in business than just making money, your message may come across as shallow.
Customers make buying decisions based on emotions, not logic. People want to feel something in your marketing before they buy. Once they have made the purchase, they use logic to justify their purchase.
So lead with emotions and follow with logic.
Basic 6 – Market to your Ideal Customer
You can’t properly serve your customers if you do not know them. That is why it’s essential to create your Ideal Customer Avatar.
Your ICA is an imaginary person who represents your perfect customer. This person is a perfect fit for everything your business offers and stands for.
If you would like more guidance on developing your ideal customer avatar, check out my post: 7 Simple Steps to Creating the Right Ideal Customer Profile
Basic 7 – People love to buy, but they hate to be sold to.
Buying something exciting gives people a rush of dopamine. People love to buy things they believe will bring them joy or solve their problems. However, no one wants to feel like someone tricked them into making a purchase.
Customers want to feel like they are in charge and that they have all the information they need to make the right decision.
They also want to feel like you know what you are talking about and are confident in what you are selling. If you have doubts about your product, your customer will feel it.
Price your offer fairly and then give your customers the information they need to see what your product is worth.
Never try to “squeeze” more out of your customer. But on the other hand, don’t assume that your offer is too expensive for them. That’s their business, and their choice to make, not yours.
Price your product fairly and market it with integrity.
Basic 8 – Lead with value.
Always start your conversations and marketing messages with the value that the customer will receive. Make your offer about them, not about you.
Never start your conversations with price, or what you want the customer to do for you. That is not serving your customer.
Your marketing copy is a conversation and should always lead with what your product or service can help your customer solve or achieve. It should address their pain points and give them hope that a solution exists and is within their reach.
This is true for every type of marketing you do.
Basic 9 – 21 Points of Contact
Potential customers need to see your marketing 14 times before they will notice it and take action. We live in a world full of distractions and your customers have been trained to dismiss random marketing messages from sources they don’t recognize.
Keep reaching them with various forms of marketing and they will eventually notice you.
This rule is even greater for online marketing. It will take 21 points of contact or more for online marketing to be effective. So, plan your marketing strategy accordingly.
Basic 10 – Tell stories with your words and images
Stories sell better than other “traditional” marketing methods because they are real and relatable. People can see themselves in the story and imagine what life could be like with the solution you are providing them.
When telling these stories, your customer should be the protagonist of the story and your brand should be the “mentor” or solution that helps them succeed.
Basic 11 – Always include a Call-To-Action
A CTA is where you ask your lead or customer to do something. This is not always about sales. Your CTA can be a request to visit a website or engage with a social media post. You can also ask followers to share your content or answer a question.
What you ask them to do is not as important as getting them involved. This has three major benefits.
First, interacting with online marketing tells the algorithms and AI that platforms use that your content is interesting and engaging. Social media platforms and search engines will push your content out further when people are regularly interacting with it.
Second, it gets the customer involved in the sales message and helps them “buy-in” to your brand. Interaction breeds trust and increases the likelihood that they will do business with you in the future.
Lastly, when new customers see other happy customers interact with your brand, it increases social proofing.
Basic 12 – Track Your Metrics
The only way to know that your marketing is effective is to track and compare your metrics. You should be recording your results, comparing your data, and fine-tuning your campaigns so that each one is better than the one before.
Effective marketing rarely happens by accident. It’s a constant process of trial and error.
Also remember that most marketing campaigns start off slow and build momentum over time. Plan your marketing budget so that you can allow your efforts to compound and grow over time.
Don’t get discouraged if your marketing is not as effective as you want it to be right away. See it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Small business marketing can feel overwhelming for the new entrepreneur, but it doesn’t have to. Marketing is about having the right conversations with your customer and serving them with honesty and integrity.
Promoting your brand shouldn’t feel like a slimy sales pitch. It should feel like an exchange of ideas and a service to people who will benefit from what you have to offer.
Follow these 12 marketing basics and serve your customers through your promotion strategy. You believe in your business, so promote it with confidence!