Marketing 101

Independent businesses aren’t spending millions on Super Bowl commercials or billboards along major highways for brand visibility, so how do you get traction, build your business, and get back to do doing the work you love (or at least stop agonizing over your social media post copy).

What is marketing?

Marketing is communication that builds relationships, drives revenue, and accelerates growth. 

There are endless marketing channels and tactics. When you break it down though, you are communicating an idea with the goal of getting your audience to take action. 

That action could be signing up for your email list. Sometimes, it’s paying you $1 — or $10,000. 

Marketing is communicating what you do, creating a connection with the person at the other end of your message, and moving that relationship forward. 

Marketing is the process of answering these questions:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • What are the tools or messaging you need to bring your audience with you?
  • How do you execute on that?
  • If it doesn’t work, how do you adjust?

Marketing is taking your best educated guess to answer these questions and creating a plan to move forward. At the end of the day, you don’t need a huge budget. You don’t need to have all of this huge production. You need to have a reliable, predictable way to communicate with your audience.

Why is marketing important?

Let’s be real: marketing is important because it generates sales. For a small business that wants to scale, revenue growth is what keeps you up at night. Marketing helps you grow your business. 

Great marketing also engages your customers. It not only helps you create that initial connection but also builds long-term, loyal relationships.

 

What is the marketing funnel?

The marketing “funnel” refers to the progression that a potential customer goes through as they become more familiar and engaged with your brand. While it’s most common to see this represented as a funnel, this is also commonly seen in a flywheel. The flywheel helps to communicate how these post-conversion activities are regenerative, or contributing to your your continued growth. 

Awareness

In this stage, someone has just become aware of your business and, eventually, what you sell. They likely don’t know a ton about you — maybe they heard a friend talk about you or they saw your product on a shelf somewhere. They may have some light interaction with your brand. They may start following you on social media or pay closer attention to your advertising.

Consideration 

When a consumer begins to actively think about buying your product or service, they move into the consideration stage. In this stage, they start to engage with your brand more as they learn more about you. They visit your website or store. They ask people they know if they’ve tried your products. They research your business, your pricing, your competitors. In the consideration stage, a potential customer is asking themselves: do I want to buy this?

Conversion

If the answer to that question is yes, they move into the conversion stage. Whether that’s purchasing an item from your website or signing a contract, they are buying what you are selling. 

Loyalty

Ideally, a one-time purchase is not the end of your relationship with a customer. The loyalty stage means a customer is making repeat purchases and continuously engaging deeper with your brand. 

Advocacy

A customer who has truly enjoyed their entire experience with your business is invaluable. Happy, loyal customers become brand advocates — they tell their friends, family, and strangers on the street how much they love your brand. They are now aware of your brand (remember that stage?). Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful, organic forms of marketing. 

What are different types of marketing?

This page would be endless if we tried to define every marketing channel/tactic/type. Digital marketing, content marketing, direct marketing, growth marketing, performance marketing, etc. etc. — different people have different ways they define and use marketing approaches. 

For the purposes of brevity, these are a few areas of marketing that we spend a lot of time on with our clients:

  • Content marketing — Content marketing is a catch-all term for any collateral, asset, or imagery used in a marketing campaign. It’s a broad umbrella term that, depending on how a business defines it, could include everything from blog posts and your website to video, podcasts, or events. 
  • Email marketing — Simply stated, email marketing is the process of sending email messages to prospective and existing customers that have subscribed to your email list. It’s a way to connect with your audience and communicate important brand and product information to educate, engage, and convert. 
  • Social media marketing — Like email marketing, social media platforms are another channel through which you can interact with your audience. Given the nature of social media, it is one of the most real-time interactions you may have with a customer, outside of an in-person conversation. 
  • Product marketing — Product marketing is responsible for thinking about product-specific positioning and value propositions and being able to communicate that to marketing and sales teams, who then use that knowledge to reach a desired customer. Product marketing focuses on deeply understanding the customer for their product, the competitive landscape, and how the product provides value to a desired audience.