What’s the most important part of a business success?

The product, the service, the management or the marketing?

What do you think?

Time and time again, the answer is clear: MARKETING.(and, in every area of your business, not just advertising)…

You, the owner and executive that help create, plan and work to grow your business, existing or new – must review your entire business plan from time to time.

Are you on target as per your initial goal setting? This means making sure that anything that may have been missed, not followed up on or not implemented correctly is adjusted.

And, the plan itself may need to be updated. A plan set in stone with so many variables in today’s business is being too “perfect”. And, I’m not talking about sending a rocket into space.

Often, I find that the basics of marketing has not been attended to. That’s not uncommon, considering most professional business practices focus on their products, services, operations / customer service — forgetting about the all important marketing opportunities as a process, not a one-time event.

The markets change, your competitors change, and the economy changes. Your customers require you to update as well. You should use this checklist to make sure you have captured all that you can. Today’s hectic business environment requires you to do it.

First, let’s talk a little bit about the word ‘marketing’. I think it’s important to learn what definitions exist. Most are familiar with the 4P’s, but it’s only a start. Here are a few: Marketingis defined across the web as:

  1. The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
  2. The commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service.
  3. Defined by the AMA as “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders”. Continued: “It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments.[2] It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.”
  4. An aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
  5. The activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought…

The visualthesaurus.comproject shows us:

Marketing Defined InfoGraphic

The summary from these definitions are clear. The idea that a product of some kind is made available, positioned via a medium, easy to get, and that serves a target audience is key. Many in the online marketing space will define marketing simply as: “emotional triggers presented, that make you take action to purchase”.

In effect, marketing is psychology at the simplest, but most profound level. So, with all the things you create, implement and service — realize that it’s about human connections and emotions.

Said in another way: does your (perfect) audience know, like & trust you? That’s a success formula, if I ever saw one.

A systematic approach to marketing is important for both short and long term success. And, it starts with you covering the 12 marketing steps to getting your business off the ground:

  1. Market/vertical – what audience are you targeting? What are their frustrations, problems? What keeps them awake at night? And, do you have what it takes to solve it? The WHO in your marketing will be key to your success. Define the demographics, psycho-graphics, techno-graphics as much as you can. Don’t skimp on this though.
  2. USP – unique selling proposition. The why/what/how you are different in the marketplace, given all the other choices currently available.
  3. Detail prospect/client – Describe the perfect client. Who are they (within the market)? What makes them a great prospect? Can you create  a clear picture of the perfect match?
  4. Your story – What is your background, experiences, struggles? The vision and values go here too. Story-selling is more important than ever.
  5. Products/services – what are they? Focus on benefits and how they can help
  6. Testimonials – create them and use audio, video, pictures if you can. 3rd party endorsements are very important.
  7. FAQs – break out the top 10 list of things most commonly asked. And, add another 10 of the items that they “should’ve asked”.
  8. Client list – You may not show all, but showcase your list, and also think about using them as case studies.
  9. Workflow/process – use charts and diagrams to depict how your products/services work – and how you approach things.
  10. Inventory – include all your articles, publications, books, PDF’s, Office docs, Power points, Press Releases – and make them available on the web too.
  11. Digital assets – all your videos, audios, pictures should be optimized and placed online.
  12. Interviews – get experts interviews into your profile, and online. Who are 3 people in your space right now?

Dan Kennedy, a marketing guru, wrote the “top 10 questions” to ask and get answers to when entering a new market. You can download the top 10 questions and profiling steps for your market here. (PDF)

If you have these marketing items in place, you’ll be able to use them as leverage points for your ‘process-driven’ marketing. Your information is the cornerstone of it all. This is not a complete list, and the systematic approach or work flows are not shown.

However, if you can look this list over, compare it against what you have currently, update it – you’ll be on your way.

And you can use this content in many different ways. Online, offline, multitudes of media, print, radio, tv, etc. Your sales people will have a lot to work with, and will love this new, updated work from you. All this information should be made available on your website.

Search engines and users will find it too. And – if you are specifically in the information marketing business (selling info-products), the POSITIONING, PACKAGING, PROMOTING, PARTNERING (affiliates) is an additional success formula for you. In fact, all should do that, consistently.

What else could you add to this list?

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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.