We are not "marketing people" as the term is usually used. But every business person - including you - is responsible for providing goods and services that people want. The key is to help them realise that you do this. This is not to say that you "con" people into believing they need your product. There are people who do that - but we're talking about people who have made an effort to provide goods and services that people genuinely want. The key is to help them understand how what you are offering will solve their problems. Many of us focus on what we do. People don't really care about that. They want to know "What's in it for me?". The old image of the fast-talking used car salesman is far removed from real marketing.


Everything you do affects how people perceive your business.  One of the first things you need to do is to identify your Unique Core Differentiators (UCDs). Without this how can you attract customers to buy from your business? Being cheap is an option - but only one can be cheapest, and sadly this is too often the quickest way out of business.


So what is a UCD? It may be something genuinely unique about how you do business. It may be how customers think you are different. Or it may be something you develop in order to be different. Whatever it is, it's something customers can't get elsewhere. An example of what's not an effective UCD is "best after sales service". Part of a better image might be "call us for free support for three months". Having things clear in your own mind on what you have to offer, there are a series of activities to promote your offering.


First, there are public relations. That's not directly about sales. Rather it establishes yourself as a reliable source of quality information, goods and services in the community - however you define that in your business. Local businesses appeal to their local community - so if you're in Eketahuna, appealing to Auckland probably wastes a lot of effort. If you're internet based, then you need to think not just about geography - but other criteria. While a universal market is appealing, it is very hard to aim at - and is always changing. PR is general - but should focus on your market areas.


Next, there's marketing. You should develop a plan for how you're going to get your offering known and recognised, and hopefully desired. It's highly likely that there won't be one mechanism for achieving great results. It's a question of identifying the resources available to you and researching their effectiveness in your target markets. You also need to identify the costs of these.


Of course marketing isn't primarily about channels - it's about the message. The most effective messages present information in attractive ways in appropriate media. Words are obviously key - so everything - not just "ads" that you ever put out should be worded carefully and appropriately. There are many areas in business where we need "experts" - and this must be one of the more important. There are two reasons in particular you might consider seeking help. First if your English (assuming that's your target language) is not very skilled. And second, if you're like me, messages leave your mind quite clearly, but are received in the minds of others quite differently. Unless you are gifted at effective communication, much of your effort may be wasted. And while words are crucial, too many can be a barrier. And other tools - images, animations, movies, sounds, etc are all part of the available arsenal. As soon as kiwis see a stick figure with a yellow background, they'll immediately think of a particular supermarket. Inexpensive - and even that is part of the image of this firm.


Finally comes advertising. Many businesses launch into advertising at random - but if you've developed a marketing plan, advertising will simply flow from that. There are many possible sources of marketing and within those ways of using them, that we cannot deal here with them. Besides, we are not marketing specialists - and probably neither are you. There are people who are very good in this area. The key is to find someone who works to understand your business before coming up with solutions.


I won't repeat in full the problem-solving steps - if wanted you can read them here.