What comes to your mind when you think of the word Marketing?
The textbook definition of marketing is the process of engaging customers, building strong customer relationships, and creating value. It’s important to note that marketing is not the same as sales!
According to an anonymous expert, the aim of marketing is to make selling unnecessary. Basically, if you market your business really well, your audience lives the brand, and you don’t have to sell as hard because people will already know and love your brand.
With any business, there is a market. Even as a freelancer, you fit within a market. The market is just the category in which you sell your products - it could be the design market, the candle market, etc. Within each market, there are buyers and sellers. To market your business successfully, you need to know who else sells similar products and what consumers are in your market.
Since marketing is all about creating value for your customer base, you need to know who your customers are. The first step is to identify the segments in the market, which are different groups of consumers who share specific characteristics. Examples of buyer segments in the graphic design market could include small business owners, tech startups, and big corporations.
Once you identify different segments of the market, you need to perform targeting. Targeting is just the act of selecting which segments you want to target. Choose one to two to start serving first, and you can eventually serve other segments as you grow your brand. Identify their needs, wants, and the market demand. Needs are what people truly need, what they would be deprived of without (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for examples.) Then, you should identify what your audience wants. Wants are needs that are shaped by culture and personality. For example, every human needs food and water, biologically. But some people need a car, and some people don’t. Therefore, a car would be a want because it’s a need that is shaped by the culture you live in.
The marketing process begins with understanding your market and your audience. Once you know your customers, you can create a strategy for delivering value to them, aka your marketing strategy. Eventually, the value you create will result in getting value back from your customers, like time or money they spend with you.
The 4 P’s are the very fundamentals of marketing: price, product, place, and promotion. To market effectively, you need to have all 4 P’s clearly laid out. What you’re selling, for how much, where you’re selling it, and how to promote it are the foundation for creating a marketing strategy. Before all the complex influencer marketing strategies and wild campaigns, you need the 4 P’s nailed down.
Your product is just what you offer. It can be a physical product, a digital product, a service, or even a membership or subscription. When designing a product, focus on what your consumers need and how to best solve their problems.
Pricing is different for every business based on a variety of factors. Research the market to see what’s standard, consider the value of the product, calculate profitability, and do your due diligence to decide a fair price for your offers.
Pricing is very strategic and custom per product, but remember, pricing as a way to compete with other sellers is always a race to the bottom. Being cheaper than someone else isn’t a sustainable marketing strategy.
Overall, brand voice is often easy to understand but difficult to execute. Just remember: your brand voice is simply how you express a personality. So, if your goal is to sound cool, ask yourself what you/your audience thinks is cool and then do that yourself.
This is the part of marketing most people are familiar with, because it’s the part that’s usually directed at us as consumers ourselves. Promotion is how, when, and where you’ll spread the word about your product. Promotion, like all of the other P’s, requires its own strategy and process.
When promoting your product, you’ll want to strategize your content. There are multiple digital channels to market on, such as social media, an email newsletter, a blog, paid ads, Youtube, Pinterest, and more. Study the different types of channels and see what type of content performs best there before deciding on 1-2 channels to focus your marketing efforts on.
In business, everything is feedback. Always optimize your marketing strategy by monitoring what performs best. The type of content, the frequency, the number of engagements - it’s all crucial data that helps you tweak your marketing strategy moving forward.
At the end of the day, remember that marketing is all about exchanging value. Just stay true to your audience and your brand, delivering genuine high-value experiences consistently, and it should pay off over time.
Marketing is all trial and error.
Test things out, don’t be afraid to try new tactics, and remember that failure is important to learning what's working and what's not.