What is marketing and why do I need it?

Marketing is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the business activity of presenting products or services in such a way as to make them desirable”. Whether you’re on the high street or a small independent retailer, it is essential to make your product and services attractive to potential buyers or your business will fail.

Market, Message, Media – the 3 ‘M’s

These are the only three things you need to think about:

  • Market – who are you selling to, where are they located, what are their buying habits and what choices do they have (ie; your competition)?
  • Message – often referred to as a USP or unique selling point, your message must say ‘why should people buy from you?’ as opposed to another business across the road.
  • Media – how are you going to deliver your message? Via an attractive shop window, by direct mail or radio adverts? This is the area where most of your money will be spent and where there is a huge amount of choice.

Most people approach these three things in the wrong order.

They firstly decide on the media, then write their message and often don’t think about their market at all.

This can mean they spend money and achieve very little. Working through the marketing process the correct way around will save you money.

Saying ‘No’ is OK!

An important skill is the ability to say ‘no’. There are many different kinds of marketing. Some may be right and some will be wrong for your business. How will you feel if you’ve spent your money on a particular activity but had less business from it than you envisaged? Will this sink your business or put you in real difficulty? Don’t take risks unless you have thought them through and spread your money across several different activities. Some of the most effective marketing methods are the low cost ones and some are even free. But common sense should prevail in all of your decisions.

  • Jo Spencer heads up the Lake District branch of GAP PR and Marketing Ltd with colleague Polly Winder. Together, they help local businesses decide on the right marketing strategy for them – www.gapgb.com