According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, all you have to do is "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." Makes sense doesn't it? After all, if I have something that's bigger and better than everyone else's, why wouldn't the world want it? Unfortunately, thousands of entrepreneurs have learned the sad fact that this is not necessarily true.
So was Mr. Emerson mistaken? Not entirely. Yes, it's important to have the best or be the best of whatever you are trying to sell. But you also have to let the world know you have such a thing. You can't sit back and wait for them to find you. You have to reach out to them.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, marketing is defined as follows:
Marketing: the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
That tells you what it is. But it doesn't tell you why it's important.
Researchers claim that the average person is subjected to over 5000 messages a day. 5000 messages competing with each other, with family, with work. How are you going to stand out in that crowd?
First, you have to know what your customers are looking for. What if they don't really want a better mousetrap? What if they really want a better widget? You are already out of the running for their attention because you are not offering what they want.
Next you have to know where they are looking. Do they watch television? Read newspapers? Are they searching Google? Hanging out on social media? All of these are places where you can put your message in front of prospective customers. Anywhere your target market hangs out is a place for you to put your marketing message. Take your message to them. Or as my granddad always used to say, "Fish where the fish are."
Once you have determined that you do have a product that is wanted, and you know where and how to reach your prospective customers, you will need some additional information to complete your marketing campaign. Of course, to gain this information, you are going to have to do some market research. You will be asking looking for answers to questions such as:
Who, if anyone, wants my mousetrap? (Is there a market for your product or service?)
What need does it serve or what problem does it solve?
What else do they buy do meet that need or solve that problem? (Who are my competitors?)
What price do they pay? (Price point?)
When do they buy? (Marketing timing - when will marketing take place?)
Where do they buy? (Where should I market?)
Why do they buy? (Potential influencers?)
Is all of this research really necessary? Yes! No matter how eager you are to start marketing, know that one of the most common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs is being impatient. Taking time to identify your market and clarify their needs is not wasting time. It is one of the keys to success.