Branding, social media, public relations … it’s easy to get caught up in all the elements used to define the big umbrella of marketing. But when you get to the core of things, what really is marketing?

Marketing your business is a combination of activities that bring awareness to your brand and convert prospects in your audience into paying customers and loyal fans. But if awareness, conversions, and loyal customers are the end goals, what are the steps needed to achieve these metrics?

According to the American Marketing Association (the premier authority on all things marketing), the term marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

To put it in plain English, marketing comes down to the specific tactics, platforms, and strategies that you choose to employ to talk about your products and services and exchange them (usually for money) with customers and the general public.

Marketing is the specific tactics, platforms, and strategies that you choose to employ to talk about your products and services.

But beyond the tactics, what does it really mean when you decide to market your business? What are the concepts that drive your decisions on tactics, platforms, and strategies? We’ve identified 3 top principles of marketing that we’ll explore in this article.

1. Marketing Is Visibility

When thinking more high level about your business goals and objectives, marketing is more than the sum of tactics, platforms, and funnel strategies. Marketing, at the heart of things, is about getting visible to your target audience.

Before you can get visible to your audience, you must first have a clear idea of who your ideal customers are and where to find them. (P.S., you can check out our in-depth article about attracting your ideal customers.)

Once you have clarity on who your customers are, what’s important to them, and where they like to spend their time (so you can market yourself in their preferred spaces), then you can do the work of getting visible to them.

Visibility in marketing is an exercise in branding. When you decide to get visible, that means that you are making the decision to articulate your brand message and brand promise to your audience so that you can build your like, know, and trust factor between your brand and your prospective customers. By getting visible to your audience, you are taking the first step of engaging your customers to build brand loyalty.

2. Marketing Is Relationship Building

When you set out to market your business, you are setting out to build relationships with your customers. Like we note earlier, a primary goal of marketing is to help your audience develop the like, know, and trust factor that encourages them to pursue a transaction with you (i.e. to make a sale). You do this by becoming visible in your brand, but also by pursuing an approach in your content creation and branding materials that builds a relationship between your company and your customers.

People buy from brands that are personal and personable—and from brands they believe can solve an urgent problem in their lives. So when you are marketing your business, you are creating a relationship with your potential customers that is based on the belief that you (your brand) are trustworthy and capable of guiding them towards a solution to their most pressing issues.

So when crafting your marketing plan, think of ways you can make personal connections with your audience across the sales process. There are many ways you can create your sales and marketing strategy: You can employ a sales team, attend networking events, use traditional print, radio, TV, or social media advertising, or get creative with out-of-the-box marketing like mailers or branded sample products.

Whichever approach you choose to use in your marketing strategy, be aware of the different ways you can add a memorable, personal touch to narrow the gap between you and your customers—prospective or existing.

3. Marketing Is Being Unique

In past articles we've talked about Seth Godin’s definition of “remarkability” in his book Purple Cow. In the book, Godin defines “remarkability” as something worth talking about—something that’s worth noticing, is exceptional and interesting. The concept of creating and promoting a remarkable brand is foundational to understanding marketing.

Your business brand is unique. You, as a business owner, are unique. But oftentimes businesses struggle with identifying and articulating this difference to their target audience. Your marketing plan and branding (including your brand story) are unique to your company. Even if two customers look the same on paper, each brand will provide a different experience for their customers.

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Take Wal-Mart and Target, for instance. Both companies are retail giants. Both sell similar products (if not the same in many cases), and yet both companies offer unique brand promises, and their customers approach the companies with different expectations of the experience they can anticipate. When marketing your brand, lean into your unique position within the marketplace. Identify why customers want to work with you, the experience they can have, and what’s different about you from your competitors.

Marketing is about getting visible, building relationships with your audience, and articulating your unique position within the marketplace. With these foundational principles at play, and strong branding to support your marketing efforts, you’ll be primed to reach your target audience in a way that is authentic and effective.

Harvest Media specializes in helping growing businesses to build strong, effective marketing strategies supported by clear and strategic branding. If you need help creating a branding and marketing plan that helps you identify and attract your ideal customers, contact us today to find out more information.