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The five marketing basics to get your brand ahead

Many business owners confuse marketing tactics with sales and carry this mindset to the trade.

Marketing translates in the mind of the CEO to ‘posts relentlessly on social media’. She wants to see the marketer ‘marketing’. This, it is often assumed, means posting a steady stream of content on all platforms.

It’s an ongoing project – not an activity

Marketing is a strategic exercise aimed at driving awareness of the business to potential customers. To do this at scale is not an exercise in daily posting to LinkedIn or Facebook. Instead, it is about clever spending. It is about having a clear message and packaging it well, understanding the audience, and spending adequately to achieve reach.

Once the strategy is in place and the budget is available, the rest is an activity in project management – not marketing. The ‘marketing’ happens through the plan, the platforms and the broadcasting budget. The marketer does not do the marketing – they manage it.

Marketing has two legs

The two legs of a great marketing plan are brand management and promotional campaigns.

Brand management is like the engine of a car, mostly invisible but the key to its popularity and performance. A great-looking car that is underpowered will struggle on the road and fail to sell.

Brand management is the job of making sure your business:

  • looks professional (great logo, letterhead, email signature, office signage and website design)

  • looks credible (informative blogs, quality content, well-written brochure, ongoing presence on social media, interesting newsletter).

You’ll have to get these right before you begin any promotional campaign.

Promotional campaigns are like outside of the car; highly visible, attracting interest. A vehicle with a great engine that looks terrible will also struggle to sell.

Promotional campaigns include anything that you proactively promote via advertising spend. It can be a boosted post on social media, an advert in a magazine, a banner ad on a website, Google Ads, radio, promotors inside a shop or on a street corner, or even a networking event – anything that gets budget behind it.

Creativity is key

Many entrepreneurs view marketing as a creative field, but few are willing to pay for creativity. The result is a boatload of boring marketing communications that have little impact on potential customers. No pizzazz, no spark, nothing memorable.

Marketing is part art, part science, which means you need to invest in both for an effective effort. That means data and creativity. In fact, creativity – not data – is likely the magic bullet that underpins most successful communications campaigns.

Spending money on creative copywriting, quality photos, professional design and interesting messages is what generates a response in the market.

It is short-sighted to think posting your latest company update to LinkedIn or sending out an email newsletter equals marketing. That's only half the job done.

Content has become an obsession when it comes to marketing and is really a double-edged sword. Bad content can hurt you.

The internet is flooded with mountains of poorly written, half-baked, uninteresting articles that go on and on simply to impress the Google algorithm.

Producing well-written, informative content – whether an article, podcast, or video – is not easy. To generate something that becomes a sales asset requires an intensive process of research, writing/producing, editing, re-editing, optimising and promotion. It can completely set you apart from the rest when done correctly.

You’ve entered a war

As an entrepreneur, you’re entering a hostile world – a war. Your customer may be your friend, but the market wants you out! You’re going to have to use every bit of data, skill, creativity, and tenacity to gain a foothold and remain there.

Have a marketing plan

A marketing plan is more than a communications plan. It should certainly be more than a ‘social media content plan’. In its purest form, it should cover every aspect of your business that faces outwards – product, price, place and promotion.

If you don't have a marketing plan, you don't have a battle plan to fight your most formidable enemy – Mr Market.

Marketing is a long-term project, comprising ongoing brand awareness and well-planned campaigns, where creativity is key and where great content can make or break you. Most importantly, it is a battle; you’re fighting a formidable enemy on ever-changing terrain and will need every resource you can muster to carve out a place for your brand.

About Bernard Jansen

Owner of Firejuice, a marketing consultancy firm based in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

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