Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every single person on the planet used your product or service, and you had no competition in sight? Unfortunately, that’s not how the market works – instead, we fight with other companies for market share, consumers try and buy numerous brands, and not everyone likes the same things. In such a busy world, business is no longer just about having something to sell, but instead it’s about having something that people want to buy. So how do we battle this ever-changing market? Let’s start with marketing, an active practice that should follow and adapt to a company from beginning to end.
The first threat is the 7.3 billion people around the globe who can be potential customers.
It is unreasonable to reach the entire world population, and even more impossible for each person to want your offering. Therefore, it is essential to break down this population into segments and choose a select few to become your “target audience.” The segments you choose should have similar demographics, lifestyles, and behaviors that align well with your brand to maximize the return of your marketing investment. For example, a fitness company should define an audience that enjoys an active lifestyle, maintains a healthy diet, follows fitness social media accounts, frequents the gym, etc.
This essential preparation allows you to focus on certain media outlets and messaging themes that cater to your specific audience. Similarly, a specific audience helps to avoid wasting money on ineffective media production and advertisements that don’t reach or relate to your audience.
The second danger is the increasing number of competitors in the marketplace.
Now that you’ve found an ideal audience, chances are that many other companies are fighting to win over this same audience. Therefore, it is imperative that your offering stands out, not by flashy advertisements, but with a unique brand. There are countless strategies available, and different benefits with each. Some examples include introducing your offering as: the lowest price for cost-concerned consumers; a luxury for consumers who are willing to pay a premium for quality; an innovative for early-adapters of technology; or as a solution to a problem. For example, the Dollar Tree® takes a low-price stance, Tesla® offers luxury and innovation, and Uber™ gives a transportation solution that starkly contrasts the traditional Taxi industry.
Whatever strategy you choose, it is important to remain consistent throughout company standards and messaging. For instance, it is difficult to aim for both low-price and luxury, which may cause confusion within your target audience. Instead, aim for unique selling points that your competitors do not have and focus on how they make you superior.
The third battle is ensuring that some of the 7.3 billion people know who you are and why you’re special.
Defining an audience and unique selling point will render itself useless if your audience doesn’t know who you are. It is critical to research your audience’s media habits and accommodate them. For example, Super Bowl commercials are coveted TV spots that give a brand the status of “you made it.” But what if your audience doesn’t watch the Super Bowl? Then that’s millions of dollars wasted.
Awareness isn’t limited to just advertising efforts (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Digital, etc.), but includes Public Relations (e.g. sending out press releases in hopes of gaining news exposure), bolstering your online presence through maintaining your social media accounts, website, and SEO, or relying on word of mouth from trial consumers or influencers. The opportunities to raise awareness are endless, and many are accessible to all types of businesses. This is where Media Planning and Buying professionals can help guide your research, strategy, and placement, as they have the skills and resources to match your objectives.
The fourth obstacle, after finding the right people and defeating the competition, is maintaining a credible reputation and remaining relevant.
Many people believe that marketing ends once a company is established, which is far from the truth. After positioning yourself in the market, it is more important than ever to fend off competitors and establish brand loyalty. Without constant upkeep, brands are shoved to the backburner by younger, more innovative replacements. This maintenance ranges anywhere from customer service and personal selling, sales promotions, product/brand extensions, refreshed advertising campaigns, and everything in between.
Again, research continues to play a large role in success, as it is imperative to monitor the changes in your target audience’s lifestyles and media habits. Similarly, consumer feedback is essential in maintaining your brand. Listen to the praise and negative feedback from your audience and make appropriate adjustments to your product or service. Otherwise, your consumers will abandon you for something else that fits their needs more appropriately.
While these key factors are only the tip of the marketing iceberg, they are essential expenses for the success of a product or service. Without these aspects, we would all be tiny companies floating around in an over-saturated market. As Henry Ford said, “a man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”