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Overview: The Marketing Challenge

What do we really mean by "marketing?" To many time-starved business owners, marketing means two things: advertising and selling. However, we think that ultimately you'll be more successful if, every so often, you try to look at the "big picture" by taking the time to thoughtfully analyze your products or services and your business as a whole in relation to your competition, your customers, and to societal and regional trends and conditions.

We might say that the key to successful marketing is answering the following question for your business: How will you communicate a meaningful difference about your business idea (product or service) to the people who might be most interested in buying it?

There are five questions that should be answered for every business:

  • What's unique about your business idea?
  • Who is your target buyer? Who buys your product or service now, and who do you really want to sell to?
  • Who are your competitors? As a small business, can you effectively compete in your chosen market?
  • What positioning message do you want to communicate to your target buyers? How can you position your business or product to let people know they are special, in ways that are important to these buyers?
  • What's your distribution strategy? How will you get your product or service in the hands of your customers? Often your distribution method will provide an additional marketing channel, or give you the opportunity to promote more products as you provide the first one.

Tip

Remember the Basics:

Quality — do it better.

Promotion — buyers must be aware of and motivated to purchase your product.

Price — do it cheaper or provide better value.

Distribution — make it easy to get, to get fixed, or to get more of.