This is a question that I’m asked over and over and it’s a good question. What exactly does a “marketing” firm do and how do individuals and/or companies decide if they require marketing help? The answer is not always straightforward.
Marketing encompasses the tools that help get the word out about your brand, company, product, etc. Many firms also deal with marketing strategy, which is basically figuring out what tools are going to work best to attract a target market towards a specific product or brand.
Many larger companies have internal marketing teams that have a good grip on what works and what doesn’t for their business. They’re able to strategize and create marketing plans that align with short and long term goals. They have an understanding of what marketing tools they wish to use and how. But this is often not the case with smaller start up companies. Marketing is a grey area that seems overwhelming and somewhat confusing. The basics make sense, but putting that basic knowledge into action is where things get a little muddy. My general suggestion would be for a new start up business to begin as follows:
The first place to start is to ask yourself what you want to achieve. What are your company’s objectives and goals? Where do you want your company to be a year from now…3 years from now, etc? Decide what your short and long-term goals are (i.e. financial, brand awareness, distribution, etc.) and then write them down.
Some companies hire marketing firms to assist them with this process but many do this internally.
Secondly, determine who your target market/customer is. As your company grows, your target customer base may change but you should set out with an initial assessment of who you think your target clients will be. Then, think about this target market’s interests and hobbies. Does this group watch a lot of television? What shows do they watch? Do they read the newspaper? If yes, which ones? Are they on the internet a lot? Do they drive cars? Once you’ve established these answers, begin to think about what advertising vehicles would best reach this group. If they’re on the internet a lot, an online approach might target this group effectively. An online approach could include banner advertising (ads that run along the top or bottom of websites) or smaller placements on popular sites. Or if this is a group that likes to network, then maybe a launch party would work to develop brand awareness and allow the target clients to feel and touch the product being marketed.
Marketing firms are often involved with this process. This would fall under marketing analysis, strategy, research, etc. A company can do this research and analysis on their own, or hire a marketing firm to do the assessment and then recommend advertising and marketing tactics best suited to the target market. The marketing firm could also then assist with the creative for the actual ads, web design for a particular marketing program, manage the launch event, etc.
Once you’ve determined a few good ideas as to what you think might be the best advertising vehicle to reach this group, determine what your marketing budget is. Once you know how much you can spend, you can look at your marketing options and decide which tactics you feel will give you the “biggest bang for your buck”.
Finally, I recommend that companies always have a plan for measuring the success of their marketing plans. Being able to strategically analyze whether a program worked or not will allow you to tweak and improve your marketing year after year. Again, some companies wish to do this internally or some choose to hire outside agencies to assist with this stage.
A marketing company can help you with all of the above steps, or companies can proceed on their own if they have the right resources.
I’ve listed a few articles below that may also help. None of these articles will provide you with hard and fast rules on what you should do – but they are general opinions that may help you to formulate your own understanding of the topic and allow you to take a few more steps forward towards creating a successful marketing campaign for your company.
Another good read is “Growing A Business” by Paul Hawken. It’s a fun, useful and well-written book that combines smart business advice with good common sense.
I hope that this information was helpful and if it’s all still a blur, feel free to contact us at Karran Finlay Marketing and we’ll be happy to work with you to figure out a great strategy for your company!