While having a great product or service is important for a business to succeed, the more critical aspect is to ensure people know about this great product or service! The latter is what determines long-term profitability and sustainability, and is the reason why marketing is so important to business.
The common misconception though is that marketing initiatives cost too much, and not all entrepreneurs can afford to run such campaigns, especially if you're a new start-up or if your business is already struggling to stay afloat. The truth, however, is that marketing can be very affordable once you understand the true essence of marketing, which in my opinion is simple - It is to create Awareness, Positive Word Of Mouth and Advocates.
Awareness is a measure of the number of people who know what you, your product or your service does; Positive Word Of Mouth is the buzz that you, your product or your service creates; and Advocates are the fanboys and fangirls that will vouch for what you, your product or your service does. Advocates are the ones who will generate a steady flow of awareness, positive word of mouth and seek out more advocates for you.
Most marketing initiatives focus heavily on placing advertisements (the reason why marketing becomes expensive) on both print and online media, and this is only useful for creating awareness and maybe some positive word of mouth through endorsements and testimonials. Advertisements can’t entirely create the most important thing for your business, which is your advocates. Let us take Apple as an example; one of the reasons why Apple is almost a trillion dollar company today is simply because of the millions of worldwide advocates Apple has created over the years. These are the people who will genuinely vouch for Apple products and want to be the first in line to get a new one when it comes out.
So, how can you start creating advocates for your business? What can you do to ensure that more and more people want to go out and vouch for your products and services? The answer is simple, meet as many people as you can and start building relationships, one person at a time.
Build a deep relationship with others by ensuring you add value to their lives and by investing enough time to educate them about what you do. Look out for what is it that you can do for the people you come in contact with (instead of the other way around). Learn about what they do, what their wants, needs and problems are, and find ways to offer solutions even if it has nothing to do with what you do for a living - This is what adding value means. And while you learn and add value to the other person, take the time also to share about what you do, how it’s making waves and changing lives. Present them with an opportunity to add value back to you, and show genuine gratitude for any assistance they can offer. People love the sense of fulfilment knowing they've played a part towards the success of others. Do this right and you're well on you way towards creating a strong group of advocates for your business.
Remember, your advocates are the ones who will ensure your business becomes and remains successful! Value the opportunity to create advocates and treasure this important group of people.