Starting a business is just like starting any other endeavor in life. If you just work hard enough and persevere through the difficult moments, you’ll eventually succeed and reap the rewards of building a company that will stand the test of time, spreading happiness to all future generations. Right?
Wrong. At least eighty percent of all businesses fail within the first eighteen months. This means that eight out of ten entrepreneurs will dedicate huge amounts of time, effort, and money towards an enterprise that is destined to go belly up. It’s not because the owners are lazy or uneducated (in fact, most of the time they are enthusiastic and smart), but the main reason for the catastrophe is a lack of skill or understanding in the area of marketing. If you do not know how to market your business, then you’d better save yourself the trouble and not bother to start one in the first place. Marketing is the meat and potatoes of establishing a successful commercial empire. This applies to the smallest mom-and-pop store to the largest retailer. Without it, you are essentially dead in the water.
What is marketing?
Simply put, marketing is the process of attracting customers. Most people have the wrong mentality when they go into business. They often think that by simply delivering the best product or service they can, word will spread by itself and soon prospective clients will begin lining up at their door with their wallets in hand, waiting to give them their hard-earned money. This is far from the truth.
Although quality is important, it’s not enough to just have something good to sell. How many restaurants out there have excellent food on their menu? Probably a lot, but many of them go bankrupt because no one knows they even exist.
There is no excuse for being unattractive
Business attraction is not based on looks or genetics, but rather on the ability to market effectively. Entrepreneurs who go bankrupt often blame a bevy of culprits for their mistakes. They point their finger at their staff and lament the difficulty of finding decent help nowadays, or they pin the fault on government regulations and how the bureaucrats erect so many red-tape laws it’s almost impossible to gain a profit. Sometimes they even accuse their competitors of foul play. Even if all of these are true, they don’t have enough force to destroy a sound business. At the heart of it, it’s suicide through defective marketing that is the reason for the demise.
Commit to learning the tools of the trade
Understand that people will not come to you to buy your products; you have to entice them to come to you. There are many techniques that have been developed throughout the years, and some of them are as follows:
. Advertising – this involves print and media announcements proclaiming to customers the location and product lineup of your business. This is often expensive since you have to buy space or airtime in a newspaper, radio, or television network, but it remains one of the most effective ways to reach the public.
. Sales – this is done on a more personal level and involves actual people (the owner of the company or his staff) talking to prospective clients about the business. Having a friendly and competent sales department to market your wares is one of the cornerstones of good marketing.
. Affiliation – this is a practice that involves outsourcing the marketing to other, more well-connected individuals. It is a somewhat easier avenue considering the age of social media. In exchange, each affiliate gets a small commission for every customer they manage to attract to your business.
. Conversion – this type of marketing uses safety-net techniques that catch lost customers and coax them back to the business. It may involve giving special offers or items to clients who browse around the store but leave without buying anything.
. Upselling – this is a marketing method that attempts to convince customers to buy more products and become lifelong patrons rather than just one-time purchasers.
. Niche – this is a special marketing strategy that caters to the needs of extremely small demographics in order to monopolize a tiny segment of the industry, rather than trying to compete with more established businesses. Niche marketing is an efficient roadmap for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
Marketing is neither good nor evil but necessary
There is a common misconception that marketers are a sleazy bunch who take money surreptitiously and offer nothing in return. In fact, one of the most reviled figures in modern times is the “used car salesman,” a person who has been tragically associated with cheating and marketing in general.
True marketing, however, is neither good nor evil but simply a process of attracting customers to a business. It is up to the entrepreneur whether he wants to engage in shady tactics or stick to his principles. You can still be benevolent while being a marketer, but you cannot be a successful business owner without being a marketer. Commit to learning the art that has been around ever since the first merchants sold their wares millennia ago. By hard work and effort, you will reap the rewards. Without it, you will fail, guaranteed.