Most business owners don’t realise that much of what they already do forms part of the Marketing Mix.
For example they design their products to fulfil a particular need of customers; they fix a price that people are prepared to pay and that allows them to make a profit; they think about how customers will access their product or service (whether that’s online or in a physical location – or perhaps both); they think through the process of delivery to make it as cost effective as possible for the business and as easy as possible for the customer.
The element that we are focussing on here is the business activity that promotes and helps sell products and services by getting people interested and stimulating demand for it.
Today, customer experience is key. Find out how to map out your own customer journey, explore ideas to maximise customer experience and in turn, maximise the opportunities for your business. With so many channels to market your business, these sessions will show you how to work on your own magic formula to attract, convert and retain more of your best customers.
Different types of marketing
There are various terms you will hear associated with marketing, but you don’t need a degree to understand what these are and how they serve your business.
Below we have simplified the four main terms so that you can decide which methods might be the most effective for your business and your customers. And in other fact sheets we have gone into more detail into each of the specific methods, providing step by step instructions for those that feel relevant for you.
(sometimes called off-line channels) is what we did before computer technology. You may hear the terms above the line and below the line, but this simply refers to the delivery methods – both are still very relevant in the 21st century.
Above the Line
TV, radio, Billboards, Newspapers, Magazines, Flyers
Below the line
Door to door, direct mail, exhibitions and events, sampling, promotions
(sometimes called online marketing) relates to any effort to reach customers using computer technology and includes social media platforms; emails; websites; search engines.
(also known as push marketing or outbound marketing) refers to techniques used to get your product or service in front of customers. It’s active promotion of a product, service, or brand. It’s where a brand says, ‘look at me and what I have for you’. Adverts, promotions (buy one get one free) and door drop leaflets are often used in direct marketing.
(also known as pull marketing or inbound marketing) is much more subtle. Rather than shouting out to customers, it uses techniques to attract them. It looks to pique their interest so that they keep coming back for more. Often this is in the form of creating valuable and interesting content or experiences that will have relevance to but won’t necessarily promote your product or service. For example, restaurants that post recipes online; beer producers who run competitions to name a new beer; vineyards that educate people on wines.
Before moving on to create a strategy for your business, it would be a good idea to assess what you are already doing to promote your business and how you are doing it using the check list below.
Don’t worry if you haven’t come across any of the below terms before, it simply means you probably aren’t doing it yet. But try our Masterclasses and worksheets and you will find that you’ll be able to adopt any of the following that feel appropriate for your business.
Social media posts
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Mailing/handing out leaflets
Blogs (written content)
Vlogs (video content)
Affiliate marketing (your networks help to market you on their sites in return for a small fee for any resulting purchases/bookings)
Speaking (at events)
Native advertising (brands customise their ads to fit the feel, look and function of the platform on which they’ll be published so that it looks like part of the content).
Pay per click (PPC)
Having a brand identity is not just for big businesses. In marketing terms it’s imperative for businesses large and small and regardless of industry type.
Whilst PR is one of the tools a marketer will use when developing a marketing strategy, public relations is very different to the practice of marketing.
Knowing your ideal customer is a topic that regularly flummoxes business owners. Many believe that everyone is an ideal customer and as a result their business and marketing messages become confused and scatter gun – the effect is you miss everybody!
To start with, not everyone will want, need, be able to afford or justify the price of your product. You need to find those that both value what you are selling and are able and willing to pay the price you charge.
Consider also that different types of visitors will have different needs. Families will want child friendly facilities and activities. This will be a complete turn off for couples looking for a romantic getaway.
And then there are those that want a quiet vacation away from it all. But whilst some will relish being genuinely cut off from the outside world, for others getting away from it all means being away from their daily grind and may not mean a location that is miles from a local pub or restaurant and requires a hike across 3 fields to get to.
Define your ideal customer
Have a clear picture in your mind of your ideal customer. This may not be the customer you have right now. But what would you love your customer to be?
- Who will be the easiest for you to serve?
- For example, if you are a restaurant owner, will it be someone who likes fast food and who you can feed quickly and cheaply? Or is it someone who will pay for the benefit of having fine food and wine and being able to have a leisurely experience?
- Generally speaking, what age is this type of person?
- Generally speaking, will they dine with their families or with other adults?
- Generally speaking, what will their income level be?
- Based on your above guess – what sort of home do they live in; what type of car do they drive; where do they do their weekly shop; go on holiday?
- If you could hazard a guess – what sort of job are they likely to have?
- Based on your above ‘guess’ how educated are they?
- What programmes are they likely to watch on TV?
- What are their hobbies and what are they interested in?
We call this creating a customer persona. Marketers often go so far as to giving their persona a name.
We’ve included a checklist in our resources section to help guide you through the process and highly recommend you take the time to complete this. It doesn’t mean that you will only serve this customer. It simply means that all your efforts will be geared towards this customer, more focussed therefore more successful and a greater return on your marketing investment.
Chart your customer’s journey
The term ‘customer journey’ refers to the interactions people have with a company over time. It looks at what they do (their behaviours); what they experience (their feelings) and what influences them (their motivations).
Once we understand this, we can tailor our marketing efforts, helping move them along the journey from a potential customer to a satisfied and regular customer faster.
Customers roughly travel through six stages, and each stage will include some form of traditional marketing (word of mouth; TV or newspaper advert; door to door salesman; billboard) as well as some form of digital marketing (social media; email; online advert; website).
Your customer first gets the idea that they might want a product or service similar to yours. This could be through watching an advert on TV; it could be at an event or party where someone is talking about their latest holiday; it could be from reading some content about a subject that interests them.
Your customer will start to search for more information about the product or service, they are now interested in. This could be via a Google search; a specialist magazine; social media sites or groups; review sites, or even specialist events
They have looked at various options and will likely enquire about the specific product or service. There may be questions around the price; inclusions; special conditions etc. This could be by phone; email; website chat bots.
This is the part where it’s easy to lose potential customers. Unless you can satisfy any questions quickly, solidly and positively, your potential customer may go back to stage 2 of the journey. Some businesses offer enticements at stage 3 – whether this is in the form of discount or free gift for buying now because passive customers are expensive to manage.
Once your buyer has made the decision to go ahead and buy from you, they need to be able to buy instantly using methods that are simple and convenient to them. Whether this is online booking, card payments over the phone or taken at a table.
Unlike most products which can be physically seen and / or touched prior to purchase, most purchases in the visitor economy sector take place before the purchaser has experienced it. And unlike a product which can be replaced quickly if faulty, purchasers of visitor economy experiences expect their purchase to be right first time and to be consistent with the description on the packaging. Holidays are much anticipated and weighted with expectations. This, regardless of whether staff members are off sick or key ingredients haven’t been delivered.
This element is most likely to be delivered in person – but can also be digital, depending on the service inclusions.
This is your opportunity to create ‘raving fans’ that will promote you to their friends, family and anyone else who will listen. This will likely be through word of mouth; social media channels and review sites.
Once a customer has left, how do you ensure they don’t forget you? Do you have a regular e-newsletter to keep them up to date with new products and services (you need to ask permission first!)? A card at Christmas? Or send them a card or promotional offer on their birthday (if you have this information)
Once you have defined your customer and know them inside out, you will know specifically where they go at each stage of the journey and what they will or won’t tolerate when it comes to the actual service and how they prefer to be communicated with and how often post service. You can therefore target your marketing activity precisely so that it lands on the right people at the right time.
Audit your current marketing approach through their eyes
Once you have created your customer persona and your customer journey and put yourself in their shoes, take a long hard look at all of your marketing activities (remember this includes product, price, process, place, promotion).
- Does your website speak the same language as your customer? For example, does your customer prefer formal language or something more relaxed (think the difference between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways).
- Is this the type of person who expects fast, efficient and non-intrusive service, or do they prefer a more relaxed and personal touch?
- Are environmental and sustainability important to them and if so how does your business support this?
- Do they use the same social media sites that you currently communicate via?
- Do they respond well to promotional activity and more aggressive marketing approaches or are they passive buyers?
- When do your customers typically buy your type of product? Are they last minute bookers or do they plan ahead? Are they late night bookers or on a lazy Sunday morning?
Just by completing the above exercises you will be streets ahead of your competition. You will be able to take this knowledge, design a strategy and pull together a communications plan which will incorporate what you need to be saying and how you need to be saying it, at each stage of your customers journey.
In this first of three customer journey masterclass videos, Marianne talks about how you can attract more of your best customers to your business. By the end of this video, you will have a clear understanding of the customers you are trying to attract so that you can ensure you deliver more of what they love and fix the things they hate. You will also learn strategies for attracting new ‘best customers’ and get them to consider you over the competition.
However, ‘know your customers’ is the best marketing strategy for you and your business. This means understanding who your target customers are (and no it’s not everyone); how they think and behave and what process they go through when buying the type of product and service you provide – also known as the ‘Customer Journey’. We’ve created bite sized Masterclasses and Fact sheets on these topics too and highly recommend checking these out before you move on to creating a Marketing Strategy for your business.
And if you do find you need help or support in creating these either use the contact form or visit Get in touch | Business Lincolnshire | Business Lincolnshire