Are you unsure about the fundamentals of marketing?
Many people think that marketing only happens when you’re trying to sell something.
That’s true in some cases but not all the time. There are a lot of things that go into marketing that don’t involve directly making a sale to someone else.
Marketing isn’t as simple as choosing which social media platform suits your brand image best or throwing up an ad or two.
It’s an entire process that requires careful planning and strategic thinking to be successful.
The goal of this article is to help you understand the fundamentals of marketing, its role in your business, common types of marketing, and how to develop a marketing strategy that works for your company.
What is Marketing?
The first step to understanding the basics of marketing is learning how to define it.
The general definition of marketing refers simply to the act of promoting and selling products or services, performed by someone known as a marketer.
Marketing is a crucial part of every company because it tells you how to position your product in the market.
What is the Role of Marketing?
The role of marketing starts with understanding your target audience and determining what they value. If you know customer needs, then you can position your product/service within that context.
That knowledge will help you develop a distinct way of speaking to your audience (i.e., language, tone, images, etc.).
Once you’ve developed a clear sense of who your target audience is and how they’ll respond to your brand (message), the role of marketing tells you how to deliver that message.
You can create ads or online content, like blog posts or videos.
You can also organize trade shows or public events where you can communicate with buyers face-to-face.
There are many forms of communication, so the role and fundamentals of marketing will help you decide how to get your message in front of the right people.
Who is Responsible for Marketing?
Marketing is an ongoing process. No one can take it on completely.
If you’re a small business owner, then it’s important to stay involved in the marketing process yourself.
Everyone else within your company should think about how they can promote the brand, even if it’s in small ways.
This helps create a culture where everyone in your company remains invested in the fundamentals of marketing. If they feel ownership over the brand, then they’ll have more reason to support it openly.
Having said that, every company needs someone responsible for the overall marketing plan. This person is often called a chief marketing officer or marketing manager.
The job role varies depending on the size of the company, but this person is primarily responsible for developing marketing strategies and managing other members of the marketing team.
The “Four P’s” of Marketing
The “Four P’s” of Marketing include:
The important thing to remember about the four different aspects of marketing is that they all work together to tell you how to position your product in the market.
Let’s explain each in more detail.
The product is the most important aspect of marketing because it’s your business’ offer to the customer.
It covers everything you give (or sell) to prospects, including an explanation of what you do, how you do it, and why people should care.
For this reason, your product is almost always one of the first things you should think about before you start marketing.
The price is the amount of money customers pay to purchase your product.
It’s important to remember to remain aware of how much your competitors charge. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you whether or not you can deliver a better price.
Promotion is how you communicate your brand’s message to the market.
This can include advertising, public relations, word-of-mouth marketing, and everything else that helps deliver your product to your audience.
Promotions are often one of the first things you should think about when planning your marketing strategy.
This is how you get your product in front of customers and convince them to buy it.
Place covers the channels you use to sell your product, such as online marketplaces (like eBay or Amazon), sales teams, direct sales through digital or telemarketing, and even social media.
The Four P’s are a great reminder of how to position your company effectively, but that doesn’t mean this is the only thing to focus on.
You need to understand all the marketing types when you strive to learn the fundamentals of marketing.
Common Types of Marketing
There are hundreds of different ways you can market to your customers. Let’s go over the most common types of marketing,
1. Digital Marketing
This is perhaps the most popular form of marketing today due to its low cost, reach, and effectiveness.
Digital marketers use websites, social media, email newsletters, search engine optimization (SEO), content management systems (CMS), paid advertisement platforms, affiliates/partnerships, and more to market their products.
2. Print Marketing
Print marketing is a traditional form of marketing that’s used to deliver a message directly to people via physical products.
A great example is the use of flyers for distributing information on special deals, discounts, events, and services.
3. Experiential Marketing
Experiential marketing is one of the most effective ways to encourage customer interaction with your product at events, festivals, and shows.
This type of marketing aims to build a relationship between your company and customers by offering familiar experiences that are new to them.
You might provide free samples or giveaways for attendees, hold workshops to teach them new skills, or provide entertainment to keep them engaged.
4. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing includes the use of someone with a large following to promote your product.
It can include bloggers, celebrities, athletes, and even people with everyday audiences who are passionate about the topics they write about (e.g., gardening enthusiasts).
People follow influencers because they want the latest news on what products are being released. They might have seen an influencer mention your product in a video, in a Twitter tweet, in an Instagram post, or elsewhere.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you partner with someone who has an audience (e.g., bloggers, YouTubers, or influencers) and ask them to promote your product in exchange for a commission.
The affiliate posts their content online (e.g., on Instagram or their blog) and tells their audience about your product. The affiliate’s social proof can influence whether people purchase your product or not.
Developing a Marketing Strategy
Developing a marketing strategy is answering the question “how are you going to sell your product?”
Before creating a marketing strategy, you need to have the basics in place and you want to narrow down your short-term and long-term goals.
1. Define an Objective
Marketing plans can include a variety of different objectives:
- Grow online traffic by 15% per month (e.g., via SEO)
- Increase brand awareness by 10% in two years
- Generate 10,000 leads per month (e.g., via a landing page and form)
- Increase customer conversion rates by 20%
- Enhance brand loyalty by 15% in 12 months
- Ensure all customers have excellent experiences with your product/service
2. Researching Your Audience
Next, you’ll want to research your target audience.
Some questions you might want to consider include:
- Who is my target market? (Age, income level, gender, geographic location)
- What social media platforms do they use?
- Where do they hang out online and offline?
- What problems does my product solve and how can I effectively communicate this?
- How do I create content that resonates with my target audience?
For example, if you’re selling a dieting product, you might research hashtags related to healthy eating and exercise.
You can also use social media accounts dedicated to fitness/nutrition to find out who’s interested in your product.
You could also look at lifestyle blogs because many of them have readerships interested in health and fitness.
3. Define a Budget
The amount you’re willing to spend will determine the marketing campaigns and tools you use.
For example, if your budget is $500 per month, it’s difficult to hire a full-time social media manager or marketer who can help grow your social media presence.
However, you could outsource tasks like writing blog posts (e.g., via Upwork), plan one or two social media posts per week, create a few infographics (e.g., on Visual.ly), and purchase paid ads to boost your content on social media.
Your budget will define what channels you use, how many channels to use at once, and the types of campaigns you run (e.g., paid search or social media ads).
4. Develop a Plan
Develop your plan next. For example, you might want to develop a 12-month plan if your goal is to increase brand awareness and a six-month plan if your goal is to generate leads.
You’ll need a marketing mix for this stage. Some of the things you might include are:
- Printed materials (e.g., flyers)
- Outdoor ads (e.g., billboards)
- TV commercials
- Radio ads
- Paid search advertising (i.e., ads on search engines or social media platforms)
- Social Media Advertising
- Email marketing
5. Execute the Plan
The final step is to launch your marketing plan or take the next steps.
For example, you might launch your 12-month brand awareness campaign, conduct market research so you can tweak it, and then start executing your six-month lead generation plan.
Track the Effectiveness of the Campaign
Once your campaigns start to run, it’s time to track the effectiveness of your overall plan.
Decide what you need to measure as you track results.
For example, if your goal is to increase customer conversion rates by 20%, then you might track this metric by creating a landing page and/or form on your website with a unique coupon code for each lead.
Some other metrics you might want to track include:
- Website traffic
- Social media followers/subscribers
- Email list size into your CRM (customer relationship management)
- Variation of returns
- Satisfaction rates
- Cost per sale/acquisition
Next, use Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of your campaigns.
For example, you might want to look at charts that summarize traffic sources/mediums over the last few months.
You can also use Google Analytics to view top landing pages or keywords by session, bounce rate by page or site, time on site, and conversion rates for goal completions.
Other analytics you might use within your marketing plan include:
- Google Display Network impressions
- Search engine impressions
- Google Ads spend
- Social media analytics (e.g., Facebook Ads or Instagram Insights)
- Paid ad statistics (e.g., clicks or conversions)
- Transactions on mobile devices
Lastly, determine whether your campaign is profitable by tracking the return on investment (ROI).
For example, if you’re selling a product that costs $20 and each lead costs you about $10 to get, then every lead should generate at least one sale.
Calling in Help
If you need help with any of these steps, it might be a good idea to call in help.
Hiring a Marketing Manager
An experienced marketing manager will know all the tools and channels you need to use.
They’ll understand how to write a press release, create social media content, write blog posts, manage SEO, and send email newsletters.
Their job is to help you grow your website traffic and social media following, create ads, and track whether your campaign is generating the intended results.
Hiring an Outsourced CMO
You might also hire a Chief Marketing Officer.
Their job is to oversee all aspects of marketing including budget, strategy, plans for new products/services, product messaging/positioning, public relations, advertising, branding, advertising materials, and analytics.
Don’t forget to make sure your outsourced partner has data-driven decision-making, analytics reporting, automation, and responsive design expertise.
Your outsourced CMO should have plenty of marketing courses under their belt. Make sure they know your industry so they can identify trends, opportunities, and potential threats.
The fundamentals of marketing are crucial for any organization to understand before launching campaign tactics. Use what you’ve learned to continuously improve until your marketing strategy produces consistent leads and sales.