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How to Market in Uncertain Times

How to Market in Uncertain Times

NOTE: This is an article I actually wrote back in 2003. Oddly enough, it seemed appropriate to drag it back out now, in 2008. It just goes to show that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Here’s to your success.

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1. Define the business you’re really in.
One of the problems I see most often in some of the companies we are engaged by is no clear definition of exactly what business they’re really in. Sure, they have a primary product or service, but all too often, focus is diluted from that primary product to many other offerings. This is distracting for the company at best and confusing for the customer at worst. Instead of making many things good, why not focus on making one thing the very best?

2. Define your target market(s).
It surprises me the most: how many companies haven’t taken the time to define and to research their target market. Who is best suited to buy and benefit from your product or service? At minimum, use the internet to do some research. Study what your competitors are doing. Take advantage of all of the free resources you can find. In some cases, you’ll want to hire a professional research firm to do some objective data gathering/mining for you. It’s not as expensive as you might think. In fact, proper research done now can save you literally thousands down the road in money spent marketing to the wrong prospects.

3. Define your strategy.
Get out a big sheet of paper and do some “free association” of every thought you have about your product or service. One word will spur another word and so forth. Some call this activity mind-mapping. Soon, you will have a collection of thoughts about your product or service that can help you to define a strategy for reaching your top prospects. A written strategy not only gives you a blueprint for success, it also helps you to measure how you’re doing as you begin to execute it. This is critical, but don’t get stalled out by thinking that it has to be elaborate. Just do a one-page summary to get started.

4. Choose your tools.
It’s no secret to the world’s best marketers that many of the best marketing tools are absolutely free (Google Analytics is a good example). Done properly, you really can market your company economically, especially in the age of the internet. Sure, it requires hard work, persistence and patience, and this is where many people have trouble. There’s just too much to do. And though you can wear many hats, you can’t wear all of them. That’s where a professional can help, but don’t just hand them the keys. Tell your advertising or marketing communications firm that you want someone who is willing to partner in your success. You focus on what you’re good at (running the company), and let them focus on what they’re good at (building your business using carefully-selected marketing and advertising tools: print, broadcast, outdoor, web). Soon, you’ll begin to see the positive results you’ve built together, and this will be your best year ever. With the right mix of marketing strategy, tools, and partners, you will be successful.