You can't run a successful business without marketing it. And while in today's constantly changing landscape there is no "right" way to market, there are ways that will be optimal for your industry.
The trick is finding these tactics. Strategies that work for another industry may not necessarily work for yours and vice versa. Even within your industry, to stand apart you need to define and redefine your specific niche. Put yourself in your customers' shoes, identifying their needs but also their wants and wishes.
Standing out from the competition means using marketing tactics that work for your customers, not against them. For example, inundating new home buyers with brochures and paper flyers isn't a great tactic, as these could pile up before your target even moves in. Plus, they offer little way to measure success. Instead, devise a digital campaign targeted to new mover audiences or segments so you can track and respond to leads.
Whether you are just starting your business or reassessing your marketing plan, here are three ways to optimize marketing tactics to ensure success in your industry.
1. Get to Know Your Customer
Any company that doesn't know their target customer is setting themselves up for failure. General consumer demand only goes so far. And even if a company's revenues initially skyrocketed due to rapid demand -- remember Beanie Babies -- we all know that crazes end and trends die down.
Knowing your customer doesn't just mean knowing how often they come to your site or how often they make a purchase. That knowledge is all well and good, but it also means knowing what their life looks like from the inside out.
Conducting surveys, evaluating social metrics, holding in-person or virtual events, and analyzing customer reviews are just some strategies you can employ to better know your customer. Further, by knowing your customer, you can focus your marketing tactics on those that resonate most with them. Know what tools they use and learn everything you can about them. We recently found out a lot of our customers use Samsung Calendar, so we learned every possible detail we could to understand how the product works to help our customer by being experts.
2. Stick With Your Brand's Central Purpose
Just because your business can do it all doesn't mean it should. Do you sell magazines? Great, then keep selling magazines (albeit increasingly online). Don't try to add a yogurt line to your business just because you think your customers also like yogurt. That's not your area of expertise, and yogurt is entirely different from publishing.
This example may seem far-fetched, but it actually happened. In 1999, Cosmopolitan branched out to the dairy aisle, and let's just say it was a flop that lasted 18 months too long.
Broadening your portfolio or expanding your product lines is one thing, but jumping ship to another category is something else again. Stay in your wheelhouse and focus your attention on optimizing and innovating your specific product or portfolio. Apply marketing tactics that highlight and play up your core purpose.
Consider our new homeowner again. When moving into a new house, people often need -- or just want -- to replace outdated fixtures. If your company sells kitchen appliances, it's your chance to establish an emotional connection with your target audience. Show cake layers coming out of a high-tech oven and the pure joy in a child's face when they see their frosted birthday cake. This vignette shows your prospect how buying your oven will help their family create memorable moments in their new home.
Another tactic that can highlight your core purpose is promoting exclusivity. After all, there are numerous ovens on the market that practically all do the same thing: bake. The trick is to demonstrate why your oven is a cut above the rest, relaying how it can save a busy parent time by preheating faster or baking more evenly, for example.
3. Survey the Competition, but Don't Dwell on It
OK, so what makes your brand so great? Look at your mission and vision statements. Why do customers turn to you instead of the competition? These types of questions are essential to ask yourself -- particularly when it comes to marketing.
It's also essential to survey your competition. Look at your top competitors or businesses that offer similar services or products to yours. Do a Google search and see whether you need to reevaluate or further optimize your SEO strategy. If your business isn't at or near the top of the search results, you'll know this to be true.
That said, don't dwell too much on the competition. You are only as good as your own race. This is something we all just witnessed during the Tokyo Olympics, as 17-year-old Alaskan swimmer Lydia Jacoby captured gold despite the focus being on previous gold medal winner and U.S.A. teammate Lilly King. Who would have predicted that a high schooler from an isolated state could capture the gold?
Utilize marketing tactics that are best suited to or complement your brand. For example, an oven advertisement won't play as well on a children's TV network as it will on a cooking or home improvement channel. Also, brands that are primarily purchased by certain age groups, whether older or younger, won't perform well with social-media influencers. Polident doesn't need an influencer campaign, and neither does Peppa Pig. These audiences aren't on social platforms or persuaded as easily through influencer tactics.
The Bottom Line
You know your business better than anyone else. That knowledge -- along with better understanding your customers, sticking to your purpose, and differentiating yourself from the competition -- will help set your marketing plan and execution up for success.