Businesses of any size can benefit from marketing. Whether you are in business to sell a product or to offer a service, the only way to find prospective buyers or those in need of your service, is to get out there and make yourself known. Great marketing starts with building brand awareness.
The process of marketing takes your brand and packages it up into a message and experience that is then served to your customers and prospective customers. By creating brand awareness, you create an identity for your brand which is hopefully one that customers will remember for years to come. It is essential to understand, however, that marketing is not a once-off activity, its a channel. It is vital to market at all levels of the customer purchase cycle (aka the sales funnel).
Read more >> What is Channel Marketing?
Marketing Across the Consumer Decision Journey
The modern customer generally goes through a particular process before they make a purchase. This process is often called the sales cycle, the customer purchase cycle, the consumer decision journey, or some similar term. This cycle, which we’ll call the consumer decision journey, for purposes of this article, is what marketing efforts are designed to support.
To understand the significance of marketing and why it is essential across all kinds of businesses, we need to understand the various phases of this consumer decision journey.
- In the awareness phase, the consumer is learning about your brand awareness and what you have to offer. When the consumer becomes aware, it can be for a variety of reasons, and not necessarily because the consumer is in the market for your product. However, consumers who are in the market for your product (your target audience) are far more likely to recall your brand than those who do not have that need or interest. So, your ability to create awareness is made through your marketing, as well as your ability to create a solution to a need in the market.
- When your marketing is effective, the consumer will be more likely to remember your brand without aided awareness. Aided awareness, as it sounds, is when a customer will have that, “Oh yes, I know that brand” moment when they see another advertisement or see the product on the shelf in the store. Awareness that is unaided means that your customer knows your brand, and will remember your brand without those reminders or prompts.
- At this phase, the consumer starts looking at the various solutions that can help fulfill their particular need. In this case, the consumer is getting to the point that they want to make a purchase, but they want to do their homework first and ensure they have thoroughly researched the best options for them.
- This is the phase that businesses all want consumers to get to. This is when the consumer has determined that your brand is their choice, and they move forward with the purchase.
- In this phase, the consumer has developed trust and admiration for your brand and keeps coming back for more. However, with the proliferation of information and your competition trying to get in front of your customer too, this phase is no longer a guarantee. While loyalty is still significant for consumers today, it is easy to lose a customer if you ignore them by no longer marketing to them.
But What is Marketing?
Let’s make sure that we’re all clear on what marketing is. The American Marketing Association defines the act of marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
The actual activities that comprise marketing are pretty much endless, but in most cases, marketers at least engage in the following types of activities:
- Brand marketing -Sometimes referred to as corporate marketing, brand marketing is important for businesses because this is the act of creating a visual identity and typical value proposition across your business. This is what makes your business, your business. Brand marketing is often what all other modes of marketing are built off of, as this is about your company logo, your corporate color palette, your imagery, your taglines, and any of those unique items that are specifically associated with your brand, that consumers will see as part of every advertising. A great example of this is the Nike swoosh. You will know that swoosh everywhere that Nike is – on signage, on advertisements, in the stores, on the sales employees, etc. It’s everywhere.
- Digital marketing – Digital marketing is important for businesses as it leverages tactics that reach customers online and there are several digital marketing tools that personalize your customer engagement. This includes your company website, email marketing, online downloadable brochures, and so much more. Let’s take the example of a content marketer (one who creates engaging and relevant content designed to reach the target consumer). The content marketer can create related web pages for the website that provides key information about the organization, the leadership team, the company’s vision, and mission, and about the products or services that they sell. A content marketer may also create blogs, whitepapers, case studies, or a variety of other materials that are housed on the website, and then promoted in another fashion (usually via social media).
- Social media marketing – Social media marketing is important for businesses because today’s consumers are present in social media. Almost 3.5 billion people now use at least one social media platform, and that figure is up 9% from last year, which shows that more and more people are flocking to various social channels. 90% of brands use social media as a way to engage with their customers.
- Traditional advertising – Traditional advertising remains essential for businesses because while most customers are now digitally savvy and get their news and other information from the web, it is crucial to have a presence wherever your customers are. So, this means direct mail, television advertising, newspaper and magazine advertising, etc. That said, the need for a 100-page printed catalog is likely something of the past (unless your particular demographic has told you that they like those catalogs), but there is a need for a flyer here and there, and even to send out a direct mail piece to a customer that hasn’t frequented your business in some time.
Why is Marketing Important for All Businesses
If you think that marketing is not vital for your business, think again. No matter what kind of business or company you operate, marketing is critical. Not only that, but marketing is significant for our economy. Marketing is what drives consumer behaviors and helps customers to associate their need with a solution that is available to them. When we stay in front of customers with engaging and relevant content, they will be far more likely to make a purchase or transaction, especially if what we are marketing is something that they want, more than something they need.
- The importance of marketing for start-ups – If you work for a start-up, or are looking to get one started, then you need marketing to help tell people about your company. While the founders and salespeople at start-ups are often marketers too (even if not trained as such), every time you are out talking about your start-up, every time you hand out a business card, and every time you tell someone to visit your website, you are actively marketing your organization. When you layer in the marketing methods outlined above, then you will be able to build more and more brand awareness than you can do via word of mouth (because news travels fast online when done right), and this will mean more customers that want to do business with you.
- The importance of marketing for entrepreneurs – Marketing for entrepreneurs is similar to the approach for start-ups. In both cases, entrepreneurs as well as start-up founders (these are often the same), need to tell a compelling story about their business (storytelling = marketing) to get investors who will help fund them to get their venture up off the ground.
- The importance of marketing for small businesses – We’re beginning to sound a bit like a broken record here, but again, marketing is essential for businesses of all sizes. If you are a small business with a smaller customer base, then your need for marketing is stronger than ever. Small companies do often profit from word-of-mouth from happy customers, but there is a lot of competition out there, and if you are small, you need to have a big voice in the market so that customers can learn who you are, and begin to trust what you have to say.
- The importance of marketing for non-profit organizations – While non-profits often have smaller marketing budgets than most for-profit organizations, the need for marketing prevails. In the case of a non-profit, however, your marketing might be tailored towards someone who would like to donate to your non-profit, versus someone who might want to buy something from you. Non-profits need funding from donors to provide the services that they offer to the community. A great way to get to donors is through marketing and telling stories about the great things that your organization does for others. If donors become inspired about what you are doing, they will be more likely to donate and associate themselves with your non-profit.
11 Reasons Why Marketing is Important
To make it simple, check out this list of reasons as to why marketing is important.
- Marketing increases awareness
- Drives sales
- Teach you about your customers
- Takes what you learn about your customers so that you can create personas
- Personas allow you to create better messages in the future
- Allows you to develop a relationship with your customers
- Helps customers to trust you
- Helps you to hone your niche
- Allows you to test and optimize
- Allows you to build a powerful brand
- Keeps your customers coming back
The Importance of Marketing to Our Society
Marketing plays a critical role in our society by informing the desires and needs of targeted consumers. The messages that marketers send into the market engage and inform, and match products and services to customers. When done correctly, great marketing when partnered with great sales strategies can make or break a business. With over 50% of companies failing in their first two years of business, the reasons for failure can often be associated with one of the following:
- An inability to create a niche
- A failure to sell the product or services to a niche, either because there is no niche, or because the product or service you sell doesn’t serve the niche
- Nobody knows who you are
Marketing drives and determines market performance. Successful marketing campaigns stimulate economic growth, making it an essential part of modern economics. Marketing is what creates and instills excitement in the market about a product or service, and is a critical tool to help a business grow.
Marketing messages help companies to differentiate from their competition, and when no messages are put into the market, consumers will turn to what they know, and who they hear it from.