3 Fundamentals of Marketing You Must Understand to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Your Customers

Marketing isn't a panacea for your business, but it can help you grow bigger than you ever imagined.

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By Scot Chrisman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many "influencers" and self-proclaimed guru's on the internet would have you believe that marketing is the solution to all of your issues in business. Unfortunately, the marketing industry is full of under-educated media buyers who are after your money because their "guru" told them they could make $10k a month by selling you ads on an open-source platform.

These platforms are created with the ability to hyper-target who sees your ads and when. It allows you to place ads in front of a demographic of people that could be your ideal customer based on their(the advertising platform's) psychographic data, and the hope is that you'll get leads.

While, in theory, this sounds like a magic pill… a panacea for all of your business problems, it's not quite how the world of marketing works. A majority of the prospects who will buy your product won't do it the first time they see it.

Use these three marketing fundamentals to guide your marketing decisions and create marketing campaigns that convert customers into lifetime fans.

1. Marketing is about finding and understanding a market in need

Many marketing agencies would have you believe that your ideal customers are always on the platform that they happened to be best at ad buying on. That "Facebook has billions of users, so your ideal client is definitely on there." While it might be, many people ignore ads on Facebook and are afraid of their data and privacy. For many people who may be your ideal customer, clicking on Facebook advertisements isn't even a risk they're willing to take.

Finding a market in need involves these things:

  • Understanding who the ideal customer is for your product or service

  • Understanding where those people spend time and how they choose to spend their money

  • Understanding how to place educational content in front of those people to help them understand why you're the best option for them.

Marketing is not advertising. Ensure you understand the market before you spend your money on advertising with the assumption that it will be a magic bullet for your business. Look at where your competitors are advertising and how they're doing it. Examine where your customers are spending their time and what their spending habits are. Research how they make their buying decisions. Utilize this information to create a true marketing strategy instead of guessing and wasting your valuable capital on guesswork and loose principles.

Related: How to Create a Marketing Plan

2. Marketing is about communicating with your potential customers

Marketing is a process of communication more than anything. Communication is about understanding each other's point of view, not telling the other party why you're right. Many companies will assume marketing is about telling their customers exactly why to buy their product or service… and it is, but it's about more than that. It's about communicating with your customers to ask what they want. It's about learning about how you can serve them better.

Once you've found your market, find ways to communicate with them. This is a two-way street; offer a lead magnet, ask for direct feedback on that lead magnet, and ask them how they would ideally see their problems solved. Utilize both means of communication as a company, tell them about what you offer as well as asking for their input.

The more you can show your customers that your care about who they are and how they would like to be treated(within reason), the more you'll earn their trust and word of mouth promotion. Utilize the channels of communication that you have to gain valuable insight and information about your customers.

See your customers as human beings with real needs and real struggles. They need empathy. They're not just potential dollar signs. They're people who deserve to be seen, heard, and valued. Understand and implement this, and you'll stand head and shoulders above the crowd of other companies vying for their attention and money.

Related: 3 Things Marketers Can Learn From the Media

3. Marketing is a process of education

Many marketing agencies would have you believe that if you can just show your prospects the right offer, you'll get leads. This is true but a giant waste of marketing dollars and effort if you're not in a hot market. Often as entrepreneurs, we're not selling a revolutionary product. We're able to take an existing product or service and make it a little bit better.

This is at the heart of entrepreneurship, making things better… But it can make finding a hot market harder than those who have a truly revolutionary product. Entrepreneurs and businesses compete for the attention of their customers and clients. It's once you've gained their attention that you can also earn their trust.

Consumers buy from people and companies that they know, like, and trust. Just like you, it's hard to trust the stranger on the street trying to sell you… anything, so why would you expect yourself to be different? Certainly, you'd trust the food truck with great branding and a welcoming face if you're hungry and leaving the bar, right? They've done their research and have placed themselves in a hot market with a professional presence.

Would you buy the same food from a stranger on the street with no food truck or professional presence after walking out of Chipotle? Not likely. But if they handed you a small flyer about who they are, why they do what they do, how they source all of their ingredients locally, and how they give back to the community, would you be intrigued to check it out next time instead of Chipotle? If you're the right prospect, the answer would be yes.

If you're in the wrong market or miss the timing, it's not likely that your customers will want to buy from you at that very moment. That said, you can still educate them as to why you might be a better choice next time.

Use education to draw your ideal customers closer to a decision to buy. Don't just throw your offer in front of them every time you get the chance. Spend time educating your prospects and allow them to make a new choice once they've learned why it's advantageous for them.

Marketing is something that takes research, time, and understanding. It requires patience, compassion, and empathy. And it's not about forcing or willing your product into the hands of your customers. It's about understanding what they truly need and giving it to them in a way they admire and respect. Use these fundamentals to guide your next marketing campaign and see what new doors it opens up for your business.

Related: 3 Tips for Mastering Storytelling as a Small Business Owner

Scot Chrisman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of The Media House

Scot Chrisman is the founder of The Media House. He teaches digital marketing and business development to SMEs. His business helps businesses understand their unique value proposition and articulate it to customers via different forms of organic and paid marketing strategies.

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