Kimberley Davis: A beginner's guide to marketing
Sarsaparilla Marketing founder (and ex-Apprenticecandidate)
Kimberley Davis believes that the concept of 'marketing' extends
far beyond a website or mailshot. "Anything and everything that is
a representation of your company, from the way your staff behave,
to company logos, branding and brochures, is marketing," she says.
"External perception is reality."
How do small businesses create this reality?
The first rule of marketing, according to Davis, is
"Often, I will ask a client if they have done any research to
find out what their customers really want -and they go, 'I just
know'," says Davis. "I don't understand how anyone can start a
business without doing research. Research doesn't mean hiring a
university to undertake a census. It could just be a few surveys in
the street. Research helps you to figure out who your clients are
and what they need so that your business can provide it for
"You could be so close to having the perfect business," she
continues. "You just need just a slight shift in direction and then
the market will open up to you. This is why research is
Now for the second rule. "Do you know who your target market
is?" asks Davis. "I've lost count of the number of times I've
asked a client, 'What is your target market?' and they have
So many small businesses want to appeal to everybody, thinking:
"Anyone could buy my product", but in reality you're always going
to have a majority one way or another.
Can you pinpoint your ideal client? Try this
- Give this client an age (within a ten year range).
- Is your target client male or female?
- What are their habits? What do they do? Where to they go? What
is their routine?
- If your target market is of working age, what's their job
title? What kind of salary are they making? Does your product suit
- What motivates your target market? Not just to buy, but in
their lives. Are they highly competitive? In trouble due to
recession. What makes them get out of bed in the morning?
This may seem like excessive detail, but by painting a detailed
picture of this person, you'll be able to create powerful, targeted
marketing campaigns to draw them in and make them buy.
Davis pinpoints Survey Monkey as a valuable resource for
collating information about your target demographic. "This is a
free website where you can create a questionnaire and email it out
to people," she explains. "Of course, emailing surveys rarely gets
a great response, so you could try doing it in person, in a
location frequented by your core market, and then fill in the
results yourself to see the statistics."
3. Check out your
Always look at what your competitors are doing and try and work
out how to a.) Steal market share and b.) Use their failings to
Davis gives this example: "You'd think that a big supermarket
chain would want to open a new store far away from a rival branch.
But if you are ASDA looking to create a foothold in a Tesco area,
the worst thing you could do is take a premises miles away from an
existing store. The best place to open your store is in fact next
door. If customers can't find what they want in Tesco, they'll go
When looking at your competition, however, it's important to
compare apples for apples. "If you're starting an ice cream shop,
don't say that Haagen Dazs is your competitor," says Davis. "Look
at your relevant competitors. Think local."
4. Find your
Be truly unique, advises Davis. "I go into a business and ask
'What are your unique selling points (USPs)'. They go: 'Great
customer service'. 'Okay,' I say. 'Anything else?' 'We really know
our stuff,' they say. Er okay. I expect good customer service and
that you know what you're doing. You need to work out what's
different about you."
Dominos pizza has become the largest pizza chain in the UK. Why?
It was the first to promise to deliver your pizza within 30 minutes
of making the phone call. "Customers want their pizza hot and they
want it now because they're hungry now," says Davis. "That's how
Dominos differentiated itself from other pizza companies and
ultimately took a swathe of the market."
Davis also advises using bright colours and distinct branding to
stand out from the crowd. "Everyone loves blue in business," she
says. "At a certain age men start going colour blind and blue is
more vibrant so they all go blue blue blue. But try and avoid
looking too drab or samey."
5. Avoid diluting your
Your branding is the promise you make to your customer. "Treat
your brand carefully," says Davis. "Every time you change your logo
or colours, you're diluting your brand. You're taking away from
that trust that your customers have in you by demonstrating that
you're not secure in what you're doing."
Controversially, Davis cites Virgin as a branding cautionary
tale. "The Virgin brand is rubbish," she says. "It's not a good
example of branding for your business.
"You do not buy Virgin because of the logo, you buy it because
of Richard Branson. If Richard Branson was no longer there to
support the company, it would struggle. Branson has had more
failures than successes with Virgin. This is an example of brand
dilution: do you really want the same guy who makes your plane to
make your cola. Are you going to get jet fuel in your cola?!"
Agree? Disagree? Get your opinions heard. Leave a
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