Let’s say you’re getting ready to launch a new product, or even start a new business.
You’ve put in the hard work, the late nights and you’ve done everything you were supposed to. Then on the day of your launch…nothing. No one shows up to buy your product or support your business.
There’s no buzz about it anywhere. No word of mouth, nothing in the papers or on TV, nothing on social media.
What went wrong? After carefully checking all the steps and all the hard work behind your product or business, you still weren’t able to make it. It generated nothing, and you must be feeling completely miserable.
It appears that your marketing went flat. How could that be?
What is Marketing?
Marketing is all the activity you undertake to promote a product or service with the intent that they are bought or sold. More specifically, marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association is:
“… 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.”
What’s important to take away here is that marketing is a variety of things. It is activity, it is institutions and it is processed. Another stand-out term here is communication, and it is closely related to marketing.
Returning to our product/business launch example, we can see that there was no activity on your part.
What did you do to promote your product or service before your launch? Who did you communicate with? How about institutions?
With all the work you did to create the product/service, did you do any research to find out the major actors in the market or demographics of the people you planned to service? No?
Alright then, what about your marketing processes? Did you do any strategic analysis of the industry you entered? Think about your marketing mix? Again, no?
You were so concerned with your product’s launch, you paid far too little attention to an even more important element of your business’s long-term survival.
How did you expect to survive without customers and their money? Marketing is what brings them through the door.
What becomes clear from this line of inquiry is that you had no overarching marketing strategy for your new business.
Your marketing strategy encompasses all of the elements above, plus several more, a few of which we’ll discuss in detail further down.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
Believe it or not, your mistake is a common one, even among successful companies. A marketing strategy is a long-term plan which outlines all of the business’ marketing goals and objectives.
From this, a marketing plan which outlines how they intend to achieve these can be developed. The strategy is ultimately aimed at successfully promoting the company’s product or service and earning profits.
Going back to your failed product/business launch, one of the goals for your marketing strategy should have been to gain exposure. This would involve:
- Determining who your market is
- Introducing your product to them
- Promotion of your product after the initial introduction
Let’s examine each of these.
Determining Your Market
Your first problem was you attempted to launch your product/business in a vacuum. Even if you had used some form of promotion, like this Press Release Template, chances are it might have still fallen flat because you don’t know who your customers are.
You can only find this out through segmentation. Segmentation involves grouping similar customers together based on shared characteristics like their demographics (age, race, religion, income), psychographics (motivations for buying) geographics (their location), and behavior (purchasing and browsing habits).
Let’s say your product/business was a new clothing store. Your demographic identifies who would buy your clothing. Your store sells trendy, casual clothing for 25-to 35-year-old professional women.
Their motivation (psychographics) for buying their casual clothes is they want to be seen as fashionable, chic, and modern.
They live in urban surroundings (geographics) and they are prepared to spend large amounts of money to be looked upon as “fashion-forward” by their peers.
This is your target market. Your target market represents the segment that is most likely to buy your products, and by extension, you’re most profitable.
Introducing Your Product to them
The next step is to introduce your ideal customer base to your store and its clothing. You just know it will be right for them and you can see yourself forming long-term client relationships with your loyal buyers…but first they have to know that you exist and you’re about to launch.
Keep in mind that your core customers are 25-35 years old. That means they are heavy mobile phone users, who are very comfortable using the Internet and eCommerce. They communicate largely through social media and tend to get their news there as well.
This immediately gives you some clues. Firstly, the bulk of your communication with them has to be where they are – on social media. Your clothing store needs social media accounts where you can tease samples of your clothing to build interest.
If you can get a peer that they respect and look up to, an influencer, model your clothing, and talk about the upcoming opening of your store to create some word of mouth buzz around your launch.
Closer to your opening date, you can issue a press release to the traditional news media, as well as publish the release on your store’s social media accounts.
The trick here is to distribute your press release to media most likely to cover your launch, such as women’s magazines.
Fashion bloggers have also become influential in determining which stores and brands are successful. You can send your release to them as well.
When you opened your store’s social media accounts, you would have gained followers. Hopefully, you would have created an email list of your followers to send them special offers they can access on the day that you open. This encourages people to turn up on the day of your launch.
Promotion of Your Product After The Initial launch
Picture this. Instead of being a ghost town, your launch was a success. The customers you targeted came. Your opening was covered by all the fashion bloggers and one or two outlets in the traditional media.
One or two Influencers even showed up after seeing your release on social media. How do you maintain your initial momentum?
The rest of the article is dedicated to other marketing strategies you can use to keep your clothing store at the top of your customers’ minds.
You’ve probably heard it said that content is king. Remember, your core demographic is on social media looking for make-up tips, hair and body care advice, product reviews, and recommendations.
They want to know and emulate what their favorite celebrities are wearing. You can create this content for them, and watch it as it unfolds into pure magic.
The benefits here are clear. Your store becomes associated with the latest fashion advice and your customer now turns to you to “get the look”, turning you into an instant fashion guru.
Of course, your content must be professionally produced, with high-quality video and photography. You must also have your audience in mind when creating your content. If your customers prefer visuals, you can’t inundate them with lengthy, text-heavy articles.
Actively Build Your Brand
What do you want your clothing store to be known for? You have a few choices here. You can be that high-end retailer that caters to mid-high income bracket professional women, looking for “exclusive” looks no one else has.
You can be known for fast fashion, selling low-cost solutions for professional women who want to be trendy, but at a lower price point. You could be the clothing store that sells environmentally friendly fashion.
Ultimately, this depends on you and how you see your business and market developing. Once you’ve made a decision though, all of your marketing activity should be directed to building this image of yourself in the customers’ mind.
Do you see yourself as catering to that high-end crowd? Your watchword is exclusivity. The ideas of limitedness and scarcity should dominate your customers’ minds, or you should work to cultivate this mindset.
Buy this belt, skirt, handbag, or shoe now, or you’re unlikely to get it at another time. Buyers are willing to shell out premium dollars for being associated with something exclusive.
Similarly, all your events, the other brands you choose to become associated with, your website, your online store, and your promotions, should position you as “high end” in your customers’ minds.
Any dissonance in this image is likely to result in a loss of patronage.
It may seem mean-spirited, but your target customer’s motivation comes from the fact that she can afford these clothes, while many others can’t.
Use Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing
Like content is king, these are terms you’ve probably seen often. Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is creating content that Google and Bing’s algorithms like.
To explain further, these search engines have mathematical formulas that “crawl” the Internet looking for content that best aligns with a particular search term. If that is your content, then it ends up at the top of the list, or, at the very least, on Page 1, when the search results are returned. This is an unpaid activity.
Search Engine Marketing, meanwhile, refers to all those Pay Per Click ads or bright colored digital banners you see when the search results come back. These are paid for. Advertisers have to bid on keywords and the highest bid per keyword wins the coveted top place.
You can use a combination of both to ensure that your store and its associated content lands at the top of search results, or very near there.
Some things you can do to improve your SEO ranking on your own:
- Use hashtags
- Actively use social media accounts
- Regularly create content
- Know the most popular keywords directly related to your industry and use them in your content
These are increasingly specialized areas though, so you may want to hire professional help for assistance.
Use Social Media Marketing
Your social media platforms aren’t just for one-off use with your launch. They are vital to your continued outreach to your target market. Use your social media to:
- Create a community with your followers. Provide them with regular updates about your store. Present them with offers other customers do not have access to.
- Create regular, quality content for these platforms. This way your followers like and share your content, by extension, market your store for you
- As far as possible, get influencers to come to your social media platforms. They bring their own considerable following and potentially new customers
In time, the use of all these marketing strategies can build you a substantial customer base. It just requires attention and persistence.
When we met, you had just unsuccessfully launched your new business. Now, look at you!
- That you can’t open your business in a vacuum. You need marketing and a marketing strategy.
- That your marketing strategy is a long-term activity, meant to outline all your marketing goals and how you’ll meet them so your business turns a profit.
- That you have to segment your potential market to find your best customers or target market
- That even though traditional media is still useful, if you are targeting a young demographic, then the Internet, digital marketing, and social media is where it is at.
- What “Influencers” are truly that. They can make your business or brand if you choose to collaborate with them.
- That marketing strategies do not have to be confined to the “buy me” variety. There can be more oblique approaches like content creation and SEO.
The next time you decide to open a business or launch a product, don’t worry about the turnout.
You now have an arsenal of marketing strategies to choose from, to ensure your next event is a success. Following these strategies, we know it will be.
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