Marketing through the different stages of your business

By Maria Thimothy, senior advisor at OneIMShelping businesses grow by creating and capturing demand and managing and nurturing relationships.

In the business world, profits are king and the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Companies are constantly seeking to improve their profit margins by either investing in areas they deem profitable and/or cutting costs in areas they consider unprofitable. Unsurprisingly, marketing often falls into the latter category and is viewed as an unnecessary expense that doesn’t translate into directly measurable sales and profits. Indeed, the effectiveness of marketing can be difficult to measure if a company is unclear about what it wants to achieve with marketing.

However, marketing should not be viewed solely within the investment profitability paradigm, but should instead be viewed as an important tool that can be used along with all parts of a business to increase overall long-term profitability. When used correctly, marketing is a powerful tool that can help a business in all its stages from small startup to market giant.

Start-up marketing

You may have the best product in the world, but if no one knows you exist, then do you? When starting out, the primary marketing goal is to build brand awareness. Achieving this can sound daunting and expensive if you think that means “casting a wide net” by running massive campaigns. It doesn’t. No matter what stage of your business you are in, having a targeted marketing strategy is key to keeping it affordable and effective. Start by identifying your intended buyers and then market to the places they frequent, for example social media or even podcasts.

Once you know how to access your audience, your goal is to provide content that encourages people to associate the field you work in with your brand name. This could be creating educational shorts explaining the added value of your product or a weekly newsletter with articles from experts in your field. This is also a great time to experiment with reaching different audiences through different media to see what really works for you and determine the best metrics to measure success.

Keep in mind that at this stage you may not see a huge profit increase as a result of your marketing efforts. Instead, you’ll be working to improve customer brand recognition, whether that’s more brand mentions on Instagram, having someone review your products on their own social media, or leveraging Google Trends data for feedback.

Keep the momentum going

Brand awareness marketing goes hand in hand with brand engagement marketing. In other words, as your business matures, your brand awareness strategy should be a component that helps you achieve your brand engagement goals. It’s one thing to get people to recognize your name as a player in your industry; it’s quite another to make them understand why you stand out from your competitors as the obvious choice to do business with. That’s why brand engagement is so important.

This style of marketing focuses on more than just getting your name out there. Instead, it adds a new layer of consumer education that emphasizes brand differentiation and value beyond that of others in the company. By leveraging your previously established platforms to access your target market, your content across posts, website, podcasts, and emails should focus on why consumers should choose you over others.

You can also enhance your educational content through introductory offers or freemium base services with options to upgrade as a way of attracting and attracting potential new customers. A try-before-you-buy approach can be a very effective way to engage with new customers and help them experience your product for themselves, rather than just hearing about it through one-way marketing.

mature marketing

It is often thought that marketing is only necessary for new, unknown brands, but even for mature companies, marketing is a necessary tool. Once your brand has gained a high level of credibility in the industry, your marketing goals should shift from brand awareness to increasing customer value and winning new customers.

At this stage of your business, when you are generating stable profits, your greatest strength is having an existing clientele that will consistently contact you. This offers you the stability to continue doing business with them and the opportunity to use your market knowledge for new customers. Having an established clientele means you spend less on marketing to keep them engaged. Marketing to established customers is about increasing customer value by providing them with new offers, loyalty programs, new product ranges or an improved customer experience.

As for new customers, you can research which crossover customers you can find in other markets who may not be aware of your products yet. Then just repeat the marketing process for brand awareness and engagement with the added benefit of already being a reputable company. You can also consider alternatives; for example, if you’ve only focused on digital marketing until now, you might want to go to exhibits or tap into local small businesses or print marketing.

Marketing stats and success

At the end of the day, there is no single yardstick to determine marketing effectiveness. Instead, you need to establish a specific goal for your business to tailor your marketing strategy and determine how to measure success.

If you approach investing in marketing in the same way you look at investing in direct sales, you will inevitably not see the benefit, as the success of marketing does not immediately reach your profit margin. Perhaps the most important conclusion is that marketing does what direct selling cannot, which is to help build character and reputation for your brand that will attract consumers and, if maintained, translate into long-term profitability.