By now, we all know how vitally important a strong marketing plan is to your business. You simply cannot survive in business without one. Among the biggest mistakes people make when their business falls on hard times is to immediately and drastically cut the marketing budget. That is a terrible idea. It is like removing your hand because you cut your finger. You have instantly made the problem worse by an order of magnitude. You can’t treat marketing like it was an optional luxury or convenience. It is neither. Marketing is the life blood of your business.
That said, marketing is not the only existential element of your business. It is not even the first thing you need to do. It is axiomatic that you have to build it for them to come. Before you plot out a marketing strategy, you have to have something to market. You also have to have a way of predicting market readiness. You might have a good idea that is marketed well. But because you chose the wrong business model, your good idea never gets off the ground. By all means, plan for marketing. But before you do that, start here.
Before you start marketing, you need to do a lot of market research. There are many things you need to look into, and many ways to do it. You can start by checking out Amazon seller reports. You can learn a lot about how to proceed with your product by seeing what products are selling well and which are underperforming. It is a single datapoint, but a big one.
If you want to sell pink iPhone cases but for the past three months, blue cases have been outselling all other colors by 3 to 1, you should probably pivot to a blue product. You still need to do more research. It could be that the blue ones are cheaper to mark and sell for less money. You might corner the market on pink cases if you can figure out how to produce them and sell them for the same price as the blue ones. Another datapoint might be location. It could be that the US really loves blue cases and that is where most cases are being sold. But you could corner the market in Japan where pink is more favored. Market research is the key to everything else you do.
Learn About the Marketing Tools
You don’t start building a treehouse without understanding the tools required to cut down a tree and work with wood. Marketing is the same way. You shouldn’t just hand over the keys to your business to a marketing agent. You need to take control by learning about digital marketing tools, OOH marketing tools, print, TV, radio, and other common tools. There is a lot to know and no one person knows it all.
That does not mean that you shouldn’t use a marketing consultant. It is just that you should understand the various tools so that you will at least have some idea of how your product will be sold. Knowing how you will sell your product can inform you on many product details. If you are going to sell your product primarily through TV advertising, then you need to put a lot of attention into the details of how your product comes across on video. Product packaging is always important, but will be a secondary concern to the way the product looks in 4K. Don’t do any marketing before understanding the tools.
Study the Competition
Competitive research is one of the most important things you can do before you start making products. Like with market research, you can avoid a lot of costly mistakes as early as the planning stage. Check and see if someone else is doing what you want to do. If you don’t find anything, look again until you do. It is easy to run afoul of sleeper patents while thinking you have an original idea. The only thing better than learning from your failures is learning from the failures of others. Do that. Then engineer around the problems you find. Don’t spend a single dollar in marketing before you know your competition almost as well as you know yourself.
You are not done until you have a strong marketing plan. But you haven’t really started until you do market research, learn about marketing tools, and thoroughly study the competition.