When you start a business, you are faced with a never-ending list of challenges and obstacles to overcome.  

But, determined to succeed, you put your head down and check one item of the list after another until finally, the product is designed, built and, distributed. Now you start to work on the last item on the list-- marketing.

Many entrepreneurs make the assumption that marketing is specifically selling on a platform, but in actuality, a successful marketing strategy starts far earlier. If you don't lay the groundwork from the start, your campaign, and likely your product will flounder.

During the preliminary phases of starting my first business, I didn't want to fail. I set time aside to research and learn every avenue of business, specifically marketing strategies. I quickly learned that there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to marketing a product and at times the process can feel overwhelming.

Here are the three foundational pieces of marketing that you must follow in order to create success.

1. Make something worth marketing.

Believe it or not, powerful marketing starts at the conception of an idea, at the fruition of your first product. In order to generate a powerful marketing strategy, you need to first create a high-quality product.  

Start with the end in mind and know that whatever it is you are making, you need to not only be able to convincingly sell but also add value to your audience's life. This is where you put focus on the functionality, user experience and user interface of the product. While the design process is underway, take note of the key features, the special elements, and the emotion that the product generates. This content is what you will use to your advantage later on in the marketing plan.

2. Bridge the gap between product and customer.

You can't market something if it doesn't have a brand. In order to successfully market a product, the brand must speak directly to them and spark an emotional response. 

Branding is all about bringing the product closer to your audience and creating a relationship between the two. You must make your product palatable for a larger audience in order to generate sales and a successful marketing campaign.

Utilize the product's key attributes established during the design process and generate branding, messaging and all web content around this.  Branding is the conduit for the product.

You want to have an industry-leading brand and a story that connects with your audience. What will go viral, is the authenticity of what you say, the story you tell, not the product itself. 

Double-down your branding budget onto one specific product and build an eco-system across every platform so that your audience sees your product on every social marketing place.  This way you stay top of mind, and as a result, stay top of everything.

3. Create channels to get the product in your customer's hands.

The distribution pathways of your product can make or break the success of your marketing strategy. You must put your product in front of the right people on the ideal platform to convert sales.

The problem today is that the number of marketing avenues to sell your product on is endless, it's all about defining which channels work best for your niche audience and then funneling from there. Look to Facebook Ads, paid media marketing, and Amazon for virtual sales and wholesale or retail for physical buyers.

Don't wait until the last minute to start planning your marketing strategy. Weave marketing into every aspect of your brand, business, and product in order to make a seamless transition from concept to sale. 

Trust me, it will make your journey in business much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Published on: Oct 17, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.