With all of the marketing articles I've read and written, I have yet to find one that covers all of the basics at once. I think that this may be because there is just too much information to cover in a few words. Despite this worry, I'm going to attempt it. Obviously, this article will be an overview, not an in depth affair.
I will cover six basic marketing subjects: Market Research, Search Engines, E-zine Advertising, Email Marketing, Local Promotion, and Offline Marketing.
This is the most basic part of any marketing campaign - whether it be a £50 e-zine advertisement or a £5 million campaign. If you don't know your target market and how to reach them; if you don't know the value of the message you're attempting to convey; if you don't know the answer to all the pertinent questions, your advertising will fail.
The most basic step in researching your market is to first have a "target." This means you know who you're aiming for (their likes, dislikes, general age group, income, business type, etc.) and have a general idea how to "hit" them. Sample target markets would include:
Males age 18-30 with an interest in technology. This market group would have an average income of £30,000/year with a discretionary income (money to spend on frivolous items) of around £5-7,000/year.
Women age 12-16 with a love of animals. This market group would have an average income of less than £1,000/year but all of it is discretionary and is supplemented by what their parents are willing to spend over-and-above that amount.
Middle-class persons age 30-50 who own their own business. This market group would have an average, middle-class income (£50,000/year or higher), would probably have a family (marriage, children), and a busy lifestyle. Their discretionary income would depend on whether you are marketing towards their business needs or their personal/family needs.
Once you know who your target is - the more information the better - you're ready to get into the nitty-gritty of market research. There are five basic ideas in market research: "Primary," "Secondary," "Combined" (all types of research) and "Qualitative" and "Quantitative" (ways of gathering the information). A quick definition of each:
Primary research is research conducted by the primary user of the information (in this case, you). Secondary research is gathered elsewhere and used by you (purchased, leased, etc.). Most small businesses conduct both of these types of market research - customer surveys for primary information and by researching free or paying fees for secondary information. This is called "Combined" research.
Qualitative research is usually exploratory and has a direction or goal. It generally aims at specific issues in the subject matter and gives you a better idea in which direction you should proceed. This type of research is "loose" and is geared more towards finding a market or narrowing your market than it is towards getting specific information on that market and where your product fits within it.
Quantitative is much more rigid than qualitative marketing. This research gets much more accurate statistical results and information and is best used when your target market is already narrowed and you wish to find ways to reach or explore that market as well as find specific information on your product as it relates to that market.
Generally businesses conduct qualitative research during the exploratory research and development phase of their product to see if it is viable on the market and what they need in order to reach their market more fully with the product (colors, shapes, uses, etc.). Once the item is ready to hit the streets, qualitative research is used to fine-tune the market niche and begin offering the product for sale.
Conducting your own market research is time-consuming, but is very well worth it if you have a need for information or if you are spending any considerable amount of money on your marketing for specific products or services.
This has, for a long time now, been a "buzz phrase" in online marketing circles. I'm not sure why, since while it is generally an important part of a presence online, it is not the end-all-be-all of marketing on the Internet. Search engines have become one of the most expensive forms of advertising on the Web, but have also become one of the most effective. Great search engine marketing (read: placement, strategy, etc.) is done by professionals and takes a lot of time to do correc