Nowadays it seems like for every product there are hundreds of companies customers can buy from. Be it online services or food, people have many different choices where to purchase the desired products. With new technologies and shared knowledge quality of these products is also very high. In most cases, quality is not enough to distinguish one product from the other. For sellers, there remains only one thing to put their products above those of the others – marketing. Marketing is one of the most important components of business managements. It is a way to create a consumer base and to continue serving those customers successfully. American Marketing Association defines the term as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.
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Marketing has falsely been equated with advertising. While advertising is a big part of establishing the connection with customers, marketing entails a much bigger variety of activities. First and foremost it is a tool for estimating customers’ needs and wants. Even without a product, a company could launch marketing activities. Market research and customer analysis are very important when designing a product. Researching activities could be conducted to identify a niche in the market. Alternatively, they can help companies modify the features of their products to meet the customers’ needs. This approach is more focused on the product and is based on the assumption that better product leads to higher sales.
Another way to incorporate marketing is by focusing on the image and branding. This usually happens after the product is developed. Once all the features of the product are established, companies try to look for ways they can make these products stand out. Branding often makes a huge difference when it comes to sales. It is important to communicate the product to the customers in the right way. Users will not know the benefits until they start using the products, so it is up to the sellers to explain these benefits to the customers beforehand. Branding also means associating the company or product name with some sort of an image. Everything including from color schemes and the product name are considered in the process and could have a big influence on how successful the product ends up being. Market research can be incorporated in the branding process as well. Companies often use focus groups to test some ideas.
As good as a product can be, it will not sell if customers do not find out about its existence. This is where advertising comes in. It is important for the company to reach as many targeted customers as possible. This does not only mean that the advertisements should make as many impressions as possible, but it also takes into consideration the target audience. It is important to be efficient with marketing and not waste resources on impressions that will not lead to sales. Digital marketing companies target these needs specifically and offer services that are less wasteful. For example, large social media companies can place ads on the walls of individuals of a certain age or gender. More complex tools are being developed to target customers with a more specific set of characteristics.
Today, companies find it more and more challenging to reach the audience. People seem to be inured to billboards on the streets and ads before Youtube videos. It is becoming more important to be creative and attract a customer’s attention. It is estimated that a single individual is exposed to about 5,000 ads or marketing messages a day on average. Yet, how many of these do they actually remember?
Marketing companies offer a wide range of services. Some have a more limited function and assist companies with placing their ads online or advise them on small branding issues, while others can take over the whole marketing process. Usually, a marketing company would start with creating a strategy of some sorts. This is helpful in the future processes as it clearly outlines the main objectives of the marketing campaign and can be referenced when making decisions later. Before planning the branding of the product, the company will do a market research. Market research can be done in several ways, including looking for existing information from various sources, as well as collecting information first hand. Surveys and questionnaires are the most often used methods for gathering data. Then it is really up to the marketing company how it decides to develop the brand and what kind of image it wants the product to associate with.
It is also the responsibility of a marketing company to deliver the information to the target audience. With the data gathered from market research, the audience should have already been identified. Depending on what kind of individuals the product targets, the company could devise various ways for delivering the information. Nowadays, we see advertisements almost everywhere, including the screens of our phones and the magazines we read in the afternoon. There is no single way to describe the strategy used to create a consumer base. It is up to the marketing company to come up with the most effective solutions.
Today there is a lot of waste associated with marketing. Although some online platforms claim to offer direct marketing that targets a specific type of audience, it’s still a fact that over 60% of digital ads are not read at all and that only about 8% of them are viewed for longer than a second. People have gotten used to skipping or scrolling through the ads. Furthermore there is a problem of bots. Some fraudulent companies have devised a way to make a computer program view digital advertisements repeatedly to inflate the number of impressions and collect more fees. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to distinguish which solutions are fraudulent and which are not.
There are many things to consider when choosing a marketing company. First of all, a company should decide how comprehensive a service it wants. If there’s a need for digital ads only, it would be more convenient to hire a provider who focuses on digital advertisements. For more complex products a larger company with a wider array of services should be considered. Marketing budget also makes , a huge difference when making a choice. Large and established companies are likely to demand higher fees. It is not always wise to hire these providers. Sometimes a small startup can get the job done as effectively, but will be much more cost-effective.
The most important thing when choosing a marketing company to entrust it with the whole branding process is the creativity that it offers. Like emphasized many times, it is not enough to simply deliver the information in front of the audience’s eyes. If the content is not creative enough it will simply be skipped over. Furthermore, for someone devising a brand image, it is important to create something that is different from the rest of the market. While there is no way to judge the creativity of the provider, it is possible to look over their past work. If the work they have done attracts attention it is likely that the company can handle the task well. Furthermore, the background of the team could help identify the level of creativity and professionalism that could be offered. If the team is comprised of individuals from many different backgrounds, it is likely that the company’s strategy will be more comprehensive.
Reputation is also very important when it comes to the marketing companies. It is difficult for a company to clearly judge the performance of a marketing team. Analysis can be done only after a certain time has elapsed. At that point the money has already been paid and time has been wasted. Because there is no way to monitor the effectiveness of the marketing agency, it could give them more room to do less than the maximum. In addition, there are ways, like bots, which companies can use to defraud customers. So, it is important to make sure that the provider is reputable and has past experience of working with solid companies. On this note, it is good if the marketing company has some performance indicators that could demonstrate its effectiveness. Although, beware of the offers that sound unrealistic. There is no way for a marketing agency to offer a specific percentage increase in sales.
Since marketing is somewhat independent of the rest of the processes going on in the company, oftentimes there is a lack of communication between the management and the marketing agency. It is important to ask beforehand what the agency’s policy is for reporting and communicating with the managers of the hiring company. Good and frequent communication can make a big difference as no one really understands the product better than the people who have created them. It is also a way to make sure that the marketing agency is fulfilling its duties responsibly.
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