Marketing will always be an important part of every business. The best marketers out there know what works and they stick to it. What contributed to your success last year will not necessarily guarantee attention this year.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook

The marketing landscape keeps changing. Competition can only get fierce. And only the very best will win in the end. Customers will have a lot more to choose from every year.  Try these marketing ideas this year.

1. Focus on benefits, not features

“When you start with what’s at stake for the buyer, you earn the right to their attention.” — Jake Sorofman

Most people search for solutions not products. Your message should promise what your prospective customers will gain from choosing you. The paradox of choice normally means businesses have less than a minute to convince people why they deserve customer’s business. Why should they choose you? How are you solving their problems?

Successful selling means showing your prospective customers how your product meets their needs and why your offering is the right solution that can solve their problems.

“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” —Anthony Volodkin, Hype Machine founder

Related: 5 Marketing Ideas That Will Give Your Business an Edge

Stay away from business technicalities that make it difficult for people to understand what you mean when they land on your business landing page. There are too many options for people to waste time thinking about what your marketing message means.

2. Locate your customers and stay with them

If you know where your customers hang out, you can strategically place your market message to attract the best audience. A marketing strategy that targets every platform is doomed to waste resources and time.

You don’t have to be on every platform. What works on Twitter will not necessarily work on SnapChat. Differentiate and stick to what works. Find a marketing platform that works for you and make the most of it. The likes of DOZ promises something different and unique.

It’s your job to figure out how to make the most of each of them. And once you do, keep measuring to know what consistently delivers and do more of what converts.

3. Visual content is still a very powerful medium

Images convert. The success of sites like Pinterest and Instagram proves why businesses should care about visual marketing. The high impact imagery of even something as simple as a large font can draw a great deal of attention. The same holds true for vibrant colors and thoughtful designs.

Most people remember the images they see and the message if it’s simple enough. Prospective customers are more apt to become interested in a brand when they regularly see material that reminds them of the company and their services. Invest in producing visual content that educates and teaches your audience  about your industry.

4. Don’t just sell, educate

Millions of people hate marketing and everything related to advertising. That’s why there are plugins for them. Some people even pay for tools that will hide ads on their browsers. The importance of education cannot be overemphasised this year. The best marketing ideas are focused on teaching customers how to be better at what they do.

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov

Buffer is awesome at this. Shopify has an amazing blog that teaches people everything related to selling online. And it’s working for them. Buffer attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to its social media and productivity blog. And guess what, most of them end up signing up. That’s how you attract and retain customers.

5. It pays to giveaways 

Offer something for free once a while. Surprise your customers. Show them that you care. Give away something people can actually use. Share your freebies on on your best social platforms. Promise your audience something extra when they choose to do business with you. Be different in a great way.

Choosing the right giveaway can be tricky. You could offer a free version of your product. Your business can create an industry trends report and share it for free on your site. You can also put together an ebook about the best practices in your industry.

“Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go. Every time we waste that opportunity, every page or sentence that doesn’t do enough to advance the cause, is waste.” – Seth Godin

Don’t forget to write a post about your giveaway and share with your social audience too. You can increase the reach of your giveaways significantly. Treat giveaways as an investment. Giveaways can be an excellent option if you want to accelerate your message efforts.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (my free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.