If you’re just starting out or even a few years into building your business, my guess is you know you need marketing but you may not realize the many different types of marketing that could benefit your bottom line.

I remember those first few years like they were yesterday: long hours, lots of Google searches and many moments of frustration as I tried to do ALL THE THINGS but failed miserably at most.

If you’re not a ‘marketer’ in the traditional sense, have no fear!

Today I’m shedding light on the most popular marketing strategies and which will benefit YOU the most. You don’t need to do them all but it’s imperative you understand and can utilize a few to grow your business successfully.

What exactly is a marketing strategy anyway?

Every business has goals. Whether it’s to increase revenue, build lasting customer relationships or increase its social following, each of these goals need a strategy.

Your marketing strategy isn’t set in stone. The good news is, strategies evolve based on your goals and growth!

While one strategy might work at one phase, it may become outdated or irrelevant in another.

Adapting your strategy to meet your ongoing goals is very important. Strategies that stay stagnant end up killing a business – and I do not want that for you!

The Most Common Marketing Strategies For Any Business

Not all marketing strategies are the same. They each offer different implementation tactics to get you to your goal. Based on your individual situation, one strategy may work better than another at any given moment.

PAID ADVERTISING

Anytime you spend money to gain awareness or attention, that’s paid advertising. It can be in the form of Google ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, banner ads, placement ads (for example on someone else’s site) or more traditional approaches like fliers, billboards, print ads or even television ads.

PROS

  • Opportunity for greater visibility (if placed and targeted correctly)
  • Helps build brand awareness and interest
  • Provides a sense of authority
  • Traditionally a smart and effective strategy

CONS

  • Can be expensive
  • If targeting or brand is misaligned, the ad is pointless
  • Minimum seven times exposure for a consumer to remember your company (if at all)

WORD OF MOUTH

If paid advertising isn’t in your budget, consider word of mouth. I built my entire business on WOM by providing amazing customer service and exceptional client care. Local businesses can use word of mouth to build a business fast, while a website can use testimonials as a form of word of mouth to show prospective clients just how awesome you are.

PROS

  • Free
  • Easy to implement if you have a high quality service, product or customer service experience to offer
  • Your ideal clients will share your work with their friends (who are more likely to be like them…your ideal client!)

CONS

  • Can be a slow process (compared to paid advertising)
  • You’ll need to ask for referrals or testimonials for your work on a regular basis
  • If there are negative comments or referrals your business growth slows

DIGITAL MARKETING

An umbrella term for online marketing. Digital marketing is anything to do with building brand awareness through the internet. That can range from paid advertising to your social media posts. Digital marketing is broad and can involve multiple strategies across multiple platforms.

PROS

  • Nine times out of ten your ideal client is online at least a few times a day
  • You can use paid or free methods to get your message to the masses
  • You can reach clients all over the world and not just in your backyard

CONS

  • Can be intimidating and daunting with so many platforms
  • Requires time and attention to build social followings
  • Difficult if not tech-savvy

CAUSE MARKETING

Aligning with a social cause is called cause marketing, or brand activism. It’s when your business aligns with a particular environmental, political, social or economical issue that’s near & dear to your heart. Cause marketing is becoming increasingly popular with big brands as global markets become saturated with endless buying options.

PROS

  • Helps you stand out from others in your industry
  • Attracts more like-minded clients
  • Aligns your business with a bigger purpose

CONS

  • Can alienate some of your target market if they don’t agree
  • Negative backlash for your views
  • Requires some moxie to not back down

TRANSACTIONAL MARKETING

A type of marketing that relies heavily on promotions and discounts, transactional marketing is all about the sale. You’ll see stores like Walmart excel with this type of marketing.

PROS

  • Helps move physical products off the shelves
  • Can position you as a ‘good deal’ compared to others in your industry
  • Helps the customer feel like they are getting a special savings or discount

CONS

  • Can decrease your brand equity if always promoting a ‘cheap’ product or service
  • Customer will never pay full price because they know you’ll always give them a deal
  • Can easily irritate the customer if always promoting a sale that isn’t relevant to their wants

RELATIONSHIP MARKETING

Value is the name of the game in relationship marketing. This is where the customer comes first in all interactions. From customer service to the sales department, relationship marketing is about creating immense value that leads to loyalty.

PROS

  • A customer-centric strategy is always a good idea
  • Your business is great at offering exactly what your customer wants
  • You become more than a business…you become their friend!

CONS

  • Your customer may not be always right
  • Not all customers will appreciate your policies
  • Requires a long-term strategy to grow the business

AFFILIATE MARKETING

If you’re selling someone else’s goods and services for a portion of the profit, you might be participating in an affiliate marketing program. This type of marketing is when Business A rewards Business B (via financial means) for selling Business A’s service or product on Business B’s website, in email or other social channels. Business A will ship the goods or host the service and Business B will reap the rewards of the sale.

PROS

  • Can be very lucrative for both sellers and affiliate hosts
  • For sellers: no need to create anything  (all marketing and promotions materials, including email copy, as well as the service or product itself is ready to sell and ship)
  • For hosts: other people selling your product or service for you to their loyal fans and opportunity to get your product or service into more hands in a very short amount of time

CONS

  • For sellers: you might be competing with other sellers in the same industry, you’ll always want to make sure the program or product is in line with your own ideal client/market, can diminish your own product’s sales
  • For hosts: you must provide all marketing materials and promotional collateral for the sellers, you do not retain 100% of the profits

EMAIL MARKETING

Collecting emails from your customers or prospective clients (either from a sale or via your website for example) in order to communicate to them directly is called email marketing. This type of marketing is particularly effective in today’s modern, post direct mail era. By connecting to a platform like Drip, you can collect and send emails to anyone who’s entered their contact information on one of your forms.

PROS

  • Nearly everyone has email and they check it at least once per day
  • You have direct access to individuals who have expressed interest in what you offer
  • Can be used to direct people to any or all of your social feeds, website, events, offers or new offerings

CONS

  • Unsubscribes happen (it’s life!)
  • Not everyone loves receiving promotions via their inbox
  • You will have people complain about the frequency (it happens to everyone) or how often you sell something (again, common) or how your one piece of advice was useless (c’est la vie!)

So which type of marketing is best for you?

Here’s where I wish I could tell you which mix of marketing strategies is the best in helping a business grow…but I can’t.

Turns out, your marketing strategy might be very different from mine based on industry, goods or services offered, our ideal target markets, and which channels we prefer to do business on.

What I can tell you is that there are a few foundational strategies that most businesses find beneficial, no matter what stage they are in.

These are:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Word of mouth
  3. Digital marketing
  4. Relationship marketing
  5. Transactional marketing

When you’re ready to scale (or have the funds available), I’d recommend you look into:

  1. Paid advertising
  2. Cause marketing
  3. Affiliate marketing

By no means is this list 1) comprehensive or 2) definitive. But what I have found is that new businesses need to establish trust, authority and awareness in the first few years. These can be fostered through email + digital marketing strategies, alongside phenomenal customer experiences (relationship marketing + word of mouth) and the occasional promotion (transactional marketing).

It’s then – when you’ve got steady clients – that you can introduce paid, affiliate, cause and even more transactional marketing strategies to the mix.

Again, do what feels right for your business!

Tell me, what strategies do you incorporate into your business and are they working? Share in the comments below.

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