We are not "marketing people" as the term is usually used. But every business person - including you - must advertise goods and services that people want to the people you want as customers. The key is to help them realise that you do this - and do it well. This is not to say that you "con" people into believing they need your product. Some people 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 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 (perhaps apart from making sure you back up quality products with quality services) 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 your offerings or how you do business. It may be how customers see you as different. Or it may be something you develop 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" (too vague and unlikely to be a unique claim). Part of a better image might be "call us for free support for three months". Once you have things clear in your own mind on what you have to offer, there are a series of activities to promote your offering.

First, there is 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. 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, recognised, and hopefully desired. There is seldom just one effective 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.

Marketing isn't primarily about channels - it's mainly 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 is 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 highly 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. While the right words are crucial, too many can be a barrier. Other tools - images, animations, movies, sounds, etc are all part of the available arsenal. As soon as Kiwis see a simple stick figure with a yellow background, they immediately think of a particular supermarket - even Inexpensive is a deliberate part of their image.

Finally comes advertising. Many businesses launch into advertising at random - but if you've developed a marketing plan, advertising will flow from that. There are many possible sources of marketing and within those, different ways of using them, We cannot deal here with them all. We are not marketing specialists - and probably neither are you. A few people are very good in this area. If you've ever used a professional copywriter, you'll have seen just what they can do. 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.