Lesson 7: Understanding Your Marketing Needs

Marketing strategy

Once you’ve completed your SWOT, you should be ready to set up a marketing strategy to address your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, and take advantage of those opportunities.

A good marketing strategy requires understanding your USP (unique selling point) – be it economy, service, quality, price, uniqueness, or something else.

Remember, a USP is the one core thing that sets you apart from your competitors. What can your brand offer that NO other, similar brand offers? Why would people choose your brand instead of a different one? These are ideally expressed as a single sentence using a superlative: “We are the most/best/first/greatest/cheapest/best/strongest/most honest, etc.”

Aside from that, you also need to know if your customers are identifying with the personality of your company and, most importantly, whether or not you are making a difference to their lives.

What to ask

When you’re getting to the root of your marketing needs, you have to ask some questions to ascertain what you should emphasise, how much you can spend, and what results you want to see. Some questions you can ask:

  • What physical act do I want people to perform after being exposed to my marketing (click here, call a phone number, complete this coupon, or look for my product next time they’re at the store)?
  • What prime benefit do I offer? What competitive advantage do I want to stress?
  • What marketing weapons will I use (social media, content marketing, advertising, online advertising, radio, email, etc.)?
  • My marketing budget will be _______% of our projected gross sales.

Take another look at that first question. How do you get people to take an action after seeing your marketing? You need a call to action: A short, punchy phrase that tells them exactly what to do. These should:

  • Include an action verb
  • Tell people exactly what to do next
  • Be shorter than 7 words.


When you’re just starting out, marketing is how you tell everyone about your new product or service to get publicity. Decide which media outlet has the kind of readers, viewers, or listeners who would want to buy your new product or service.  Then contact them and tell them all about yourself! These potential touchpoints are myriad. They include:

  • A well-worded email gives your business credibility and allows you to make direct contact with your customer. You can use it to promote specials and drive traffic to your website.
  • Your business website is a sales person that never sleeps, working to promote your company and sell your products 24/7, and can be visited from anywhere in the world.
  • Social media is a great place to get to know your customers, establish a firm relationship, and offer customer service. It’s an affordable way to keep your customers up to date and interested,  keeping your brand top of mind.

Of course, there are many other touchpoints where you could make contact, but those three are either essential or comparatively low-cost or both, so let’s unpack each a little.


Your website is your brand’s online home. It’s usually where your customers come to find you, learn about you, or make contact with you. For an eCommerce site, the website is a key component in the purchase process.

Websites need to be well set up so that they are very easy for the user to navigate. You need clear CTAs (remember – calls to action) to help lead users where you need them to go. You need to understand exactly what you want users to do on the site so that you can set it up to help them do it.

How do people find your website? You need to optimise your website for search engines (search engine optimisation, or SEO) by using keywords that are relevant to your brand, product, and industry as you write all of your website copy. Remember, the better your website is and the faster it gives people what they want, the higher you will rank on search engine results pages.


Email is the marketing method with the highest ROI – the oft-quoted median is 122%. However, emails don’t often get a good response rate. They have high ROI because you can send a lot of emails to a lot of people very cheaply, and you can target those emails well – so if only 10% of those emails result in leads, those leads have been acquired for very little. The key is to use carefully targeted emails to send customers genuinely valuable content – that will increase your response rate, and thus your ROI!

Social media

Social media is the perfect strategic tool to find out what your audience finds frustrating or challenging. You can conduct social listening and share valuable content to get your audience engaged. Then you can start to build products and services to meet their wants, needs, and desires. The value of a dedicated community around your brand is difficult to imagine until you experience it!

Social Media Marketing

A good content marketing and social media strategy can do wonders to create brand awareness (Source)

Whether you’re a multibillion dollar company or just a guy with a cart full of crème brulee, marketing is key, and social media marketing is a core part of that. But you can’t just market: you have to market effectively.

Curtis Kimball, the man behind the Creme Brulee Cart, used Twitter to amass thousands of followers and grow his business by allowing people to follow the cart. Kimball engages with customers and develops a personal relationship with followers online, asking for suggestions on flavors and cart locations. Perhaps the most impressive part of this story is the fact that Kimball has no marketing budget (Twitter is free), but he is incredibly popular and has very high ratings on Yelp.

Think carefully about what objectives you want to achieve with social media marketing. You can use social to:

  • Gain insight into your customers, including market research
  • Build on brand awareness and authority
  • Sell products or services
  • Increase traffic to owned properties like website
  • Help with SEO by helping you own the organic search engine results page for your brand
  • Reduce marketing costs/help with more efficient marketing.

Once you understand your social media objectives, understand who and where your audience is (which social media platforms they prefer), and have evaluated competitors to give you some ideas, you can narrow your focus to the specific platforms you plan to invest resources into.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the major platforms and what you might want to use them for.


Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking platform, with over 2 billion monthly users and over 1.2 billion daily users, 85% of whom reside outside the USA. No matter what business you own, at least some of your users are probably on Facebook.

Facebook also offers exceptionally accurate paid media targeting options, allowing brands to send communications to an incredibly precise audience.

Check out Sprout Social for some pretty amazing Facebook statistics.


Twitter has over 330 million active monthly users. It  allows users to send short messages, called tweets, to the world. Tweets are easy to scan, and it is easy to follow hundreds of tweeters. Messages are limited to 280 characters or less.

The platform is well known for its real-time “trending topics”, which offer excellent tactical opportunities for brands, as well as insight into what the world of Twitter users are tweeting about.


At over 250 million monthly active users and 500 million members total, LinkedIn is the largest social media network for professionals. It allows professionals to connect with each other and exchange ideas, knowledge, and employment opportunities.

LinkedIn is particularly good for B2B businesses and can bring in a lot of leads as well as help businesses recruit new staff.


Instagram is a mobile app that allows sharing of pictures, videos and brand stories. It integrates with other platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, and it is owned by Facebook. Because of the relationship with Facebook, Facebook pages can extend their ads to appear on Instagram, with or without an Instagram brand account. Instagram has over a billionmonthly active users.

Instagram is a fast-growing platform with frequent additions of exciting new features. This makes it a critical space for businesses that create highly impactful, visual content – assuming that your target market is active on the platform.

YouTube (and other video-sharing sites)

YouTube has a number of excellent features to make connecting with your customers easier. The most important element, of course, is a good video that your customers want to engage with. Other video sharing platforms are also popular, and Facebook in particular is popular for Live video sharing.

Remember, don’t try to be active on all platforms at once. Find out where your target market is most active and concentrate on two or three platforms while you build your following and perfect your marketing skills. Measure any campaigns you run so that you can find out where your customers choose to engage and how to build your customer relationships.

Many other social media platforms exist, each catering to a different niche audience with varying degrees of success. Whether your brand should be active on any of them depends on whether you have the resources to engage on them properly, whether your audience is active on them, and whether you think they can make a genuine contribution to the bottom line.

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