Learning How to Market a Product or Service
When you market a product or a service, it’s important to first think of yourself as an educator. After all, when boiled down to its very essence, marketing is merely the act of influencing others through dissemination of carefully chosen information.
Too often, people (even those who have a marketing background) become trapped by initially thinking too hard about the nuances of a marketing campaign—“Do I need to send out 1000 flyers or 1200?”, “What colours should I use in my adverts?”, “What will the ‘call to action’ be in this season’s catalogue?”, et cetera.
Instead of worrying about the fine points of marketing, a good marketer will first determine what consumers need to know about his or her service or product. This isn’t to take away from the significance of the aforementioned questions, but, as the saying goes, “first thing’s first.” And the first thing in marketing is to define what you have to offer. Then (and only then) can you determine how you’re going to spread the word and educate consumers.
For example, if your company is going to be selling a sweater, your task as a marketer would to make individuals a) aware of the sweater and b) want to buy the sweater. (The first part of the equation can be completed with relative ease; the second part is a little tougher.)
The general consumer awareness of your sweater will come from advertisements and perhaps product “placements”. But making others truly desire to own a similar sweater will take marketing finesse. You need to find compelling reasons why someone would want to spend their money on your company’s sweater instead of on another company’s garment. For many marketers and marketing staff members, this part of the marketing process happens during brainstorming—all ideas are considered and are eventually pared down to the best.
Let’s say that your team has decided that the sweater you’re offering is:
- a) handmade by women from a third-world country who are trying to better themselves (an emotional motivation);
- b) constructed of materials that are known for their comfort and durability (a practical consideration); and
- c) can only be purchased through your company (a social statement).
You would then use these three reasons within all your marketing materials.
From this point, you would have to decide how your product information will be disseminated, such as through email, online advertising or mailed adverts. Most marketing departments and marketing leaders use a variety of industry- and product-specific data to help choose the perfect media for their marketing. (Some marketers and marketing firms even have incredibly sophisticated statistics developed from years of research to help them make their choices at this juncture.)
After deciding upon and creating your marketing pieces, they will then be sent to consumers or positioned so consumers can’t help but see them (as in the case of billboards or commercials.) From this point, your company’s sales department should be prepared to take over, answering any resultant telephone calls or emails. However, the marketing department will not be entirely cut out of the equation; marketing personnel will need to know what kind of feedback the sales team is getting in order to determine the success of the marketing campaign.
In the end, the number of sweaters sold as opposed to the cost of marketing may or may not be acceptable. If it is, management may ask for another marketing campaign; if it’s not, your business’s executive team may feel that either the sweater wasn’t marketed to the right people or isn’t worth trying to sell again.
If this short marketing scenario sounds confusing, know that marketing absolutely can be. Many leaders in the marketing field spend their entire careers learning how best to educate and influence prospective customers. And what works once won’t always work again. Therefore, one of the biggest rules for you as you learn the marketing “game” is to be open minded; marketing may be a science, but it’s an art form, too.