Free Advice Friday

Research | Strategy | Tactics | Execution


Market Research

Welcome to Free Advice Friday we are going to cover the basics of marketing (over the next 4-5 weeks) for small and medium size business owners. Today’s topic focuses on Clients/Customers/People/Audience. Depending on which book you read, you will likely see one of the terms mentioned but they all have the same meaning –those who purchase your product/service. This is the first topic to be covered because it is the most important and if accurately performed will inform all decisions that follow about marketing for your product/service.


If you want to stay profitable in any business the first thing you need to know is why people buy your product/service. Equally important is understanding that group’s culture and motivations. This information gathering is typically called market research and is appropriate for all business owners. It can be formal and scientific such as focus groups and surveys or as informal as a morning coffee with your best customer.


Unfortunately, we cannot tell you what questions to ask because that’s based on your product/service and what you already know. But we can tell you simple demographics (age, gender, income, and race) are probably not enough to truly understand the clientele of a small or medium size business.


The most insightful questions are based around needs versus wants. The need is usually easily identifiable but the want is a bit more elusive. For example, all people need to eat but most people can cook and eat their own meal. Why do people want to eat at your restaurant or diner instead of preparing their own meal or eating elsewhere?


So you need/want to optimize your marketing? The first step is to find out what makes people want your product/service. Second step is to group those people together and hopefully find some commonalities between them. If you have more questions, just email us.


Marketing Strategy

You do not need a doctorate in theoretical psychology to understand strategy. A marketing strategy is simply a theme –that is a grouping of tactics that achieve the objective.


For example, in most team sports the objective is to win the game by scoring the most points. Typically the strategy is one of two options: Offense or Defense. Teams with strong scorers will likely focus on an Offense strategy and their tactics should increase opportunities to score. Teams without strong scorers rely on a Defense strategy and use tactics to minimize the opponents scoring opportunities.


A successful strategy must have two elements: (1) the organization chose the strategy based on their competition’s strengths/weaknesses and (2) the tactics within the strategy are complementary. We will cover tactics in our topic next week. However, it cannot be overstated the benefits of identifying the competition and how critical it is to understand why people want your product (last week’s topic –market research).


With market research complete, you should find it much easier to identify all the other products/services that are your competition and if you are lucky also where you rank. Are you ranked where you want? Yes, now you need to continue building those relationships (fighting off competitors) and finding more like-minded customers. If you are not ranked where you want to be, then you need to identify the issue and the possible solution(s). Say your product/service is thought to be inferior to competitors here are 2 strategies: Ensure the purchase price aligns with market rank (pricing strategy) or change product/service (product strategy) to improve ranking.


So you want to optimize your marketing? After you find out what makes people want your product/service. You need to understand your competition and what strategy to use to achieve your objective –sell more product/service. If you have more questions, just email us.


Marketing Tactics

Social media sites, packaging of the product, customer service processes –the list of marketing tactics seems limitless. We could spend our whole lives identifying tactics but we’re guessing that is not why you are here. While we cannot cover every tactic, we hope to shed some light on how to select marketing tactics.


At this point, you have conducted market research and identified a strategy. Honestly, you can start at the tactics and work your way up but that requires much more time and energy than most adults have. Let’s start with what we see as the most popular tactic but likely not the most effective.


Creating accounts and posting frequently on social media sites is one the first “marketing” tactics owners mention to us. It certainly can be effective but only if your clients/customers are active on social media and you can reach them. For example, if you are in the business of printing custom clothing that appeals primarily to the 18-24 year old demographic, posting on Facebook and YouTube sites will get you a large base but may not be the most efficient. Those platforms are so popular that they tend skew towards older users. You would likely see greater efficiency on Instagram or Snapchat. However, demographics alone are not enough to understand your customers.


Media is typically the go-to tactic but is not the only or even the best way to connect with clients or potential customers of a small/medium business. What has proven to be most effective over the centuries –even in the social media age, is direct word-of-mouth. And there are plenty of ways to activate your human network without media. Tactics include loyalty/reward program(s), referral discount(s) and hosting social events –well virtual social events during the COVID-19 pandemic.


So you want to optimize your marketing? There are so many marketing tactics to choose from it can quickly become overwhelming. Starting with market research and identifying a strategy should help narrow the choices. If you have more questions, just email us.



Congratulations you’ve made it to the end of our Free Advice Friday series. Disclaimer: There is no end to marketing –at best you pause until you discover a more effective strategy/tactic or market research leads you to change all of the above. Today’s topic covers the execution of your marketing strategy and tactic(s).


Marketing is rooted in the idea of exchange –which we define as at least a 2-way flow of goods, services and/or information. For example, at this junction you have asked your customer(s) questions and they have responded. Those responses have been used to formulate the company’s marketing strategy and select tactic(s). The final step is executing the tactic(s) and monitoring the results. Every step outlined relies on the previous exchange.


It helps us to think about marketing strategy/tactic execution like baking a cake or cooking our favorite meal. Following the recipe exactly every time does not always produce the exact same results. Because there are many elements of the process that are beyond our control or we may not be aware elements have changed. To compensate many people taste throughout the process and make adjustments, if necessary. This is why paying close attention to feedback is critical even if you know your marketing strategy and tactic(s) have no flaws.


“Content is King” is a common phrase for entertainment/news channels but even these organizations must keep their audience in mind with every new creation. The more appropriate phrase is “Exchange is King” because a TV station broadcasting shows that no one watches would soon stop broadcasting or switch the content broadcasted.


So you want to optimize your marketing? Read through all the free marketing advice topics above and that should get the ball rolling in the right direction. Remember marketing at its core relies on an exchange from your organization to your customer. If you have more questions, just email us.

Don’t overthink it. There are only two options: change or the status quo, choose wisely – Cortez Ervin