Marketing is a funny old thing.

All businesses need to market themselves. Whether we’re talking about a product or service, your ability to effectively communicate the benefits and value of what you’re selling will ultimately determine your level of success.

So, the key question must be, how do you market effectively?

But that’s impossible to answer… at least quickly, at any rate.

You see, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing that we can all use and enjoy. In reality, we’re all different. Every business is different. Each market is different.

There are many types of marketing and the ROI you can earn will differ depending on a number of variables. As a business owner, you’re best placed to make those sort of tactical decisions.

That said, there are a number of marketing concepts that, if you don’t embrace or understand, will stop any campaign dead in its tracks.

Here are six tips for eradicating those strategic marketing problems and maximising the potential of your next agenda.

Tip 1: Better understand your target audience

How much do you really know about your ideal consumer?

When I speak to clients at the start of a marketing campaign, I always ask this question. Many businesses think they know who their audience is, but the truth can sometimes be quite surprising.

Building a reliable buyer persona is crucial. I believe that even the sharpest strategy must be complimented by cold, hard facts. Essentially, the more data you have, the more incisive you can be.

How old is your perfect customer? What is their gender? Where do they live? What is their income? And, perhaps most importantly, where do they hang out?

That last question will help you create marketing collateral that’s more likely to be consumed (which, after all, is the whole point).

Tip 2: Leverage emotion

Regardless of whether you operate in a boring niche or not, using emotion in any form of marketing will always pay off.

Emotion is powerful and it sells. Plus, thanks to the viral nature of social media these days, the art of corporate storytelling has untapped potential.

When you’re working on your marketing messages, think about precisely what problem your product or service is solving. How are your customers going to feel when they buy what you’re selling?

The answers to these sorts of questions will help you formulate the language that will resonate with your target audience on a much deeper level.

Tip 3: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

How many times have you been on a company website and seen copy asking you to follow them on social media?

And how many times have you?

Thought so; it’s hardly surprising.

But really, in the cold light of day, why should you? Why would you click away, go and open up Twitter, follow some random business and then listen to what they’re saying?

You see this sort of thing all the time. You might even use a similar phrase on your site. Don’t worry – it might be lazy, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.

The point is, you have to offer the consumer value every step of the way. What can they gain from following your business on social media?

Tip 4: Be yourself and embrace any mistakes

The companies who manage to make a real impression in the world all follow their own path. Yes, they might take inspiration from others, but they innovate.

Sometimes it’s easy to assume that success is instant, when it’s anything but.

Don’t talk about your product in a certain way because that’s what everyone else does. Don’t position your brand based on what someone else advises. Don’t use a particular marketing strategy because a so-called expert says it’s the right thing to do.

Instead, use your gut instinct and try out things for yourself.

Tip 5: Don’t say too much to too many people

In terms of strategic marketing problems, these two things are a killer.

Less is always more. Just check out Apple’s catalogue of successful iPhone and iPad adverts over the years.

Some of their messages contain just a couple of words, but they say more than enough. They make us feel their products. They make us want them.

Similarly, trying to reach out to different groups of consumers is a mistake. I mentioned creating a buyer persona in tip 1, but you might need multiple personas.

In fact, if you’d like to grow as a business, I’d strongly advise it. Multiple strategies will help you segment your market and cut through the clutter more easily.

Tip 6: Work out how you can be impactful

Selling a great product or service is one thing, but becoming a memorable brand is quite another.

It’s a hard thing to achieve, but that’s precisely what’s going to make you really successful. You probably know your USPs, but can you deliver them in a more effective way?

Perhaps you could take inspiration from the world of product sampling? Big food brands often give away free samples of stuff when they’re launching a new range.

They do this for two reasons. Firstly, we all love free stuff. Secondly, it creates what marketing professionals sometimes call ‘memory glue’.

Summary

I would say that it’s important to pay close attention to the more theoretical aspects of your marketing strategy, whichever strategy it is.

In business, we use copy, images and brand positioning to convey meaning. We understand our products and services better than anyone… but you must bear in mind that your target consumer may not be as passionate about what you’re selling as you are.

The role of marketing is to transform your audience into leads, then leads into customers. In other words, it’s to facilitate a journey. And the exact route that you take is irrelevant; however, you’re going to need to know where you’re going and why.