Especially for a small or start-up business, marketing is a nonstop cycle designed to win and keep customers. To build a strong business, every successful marketing program follows the same marketing cycle that begins with customer knowledge and goes around to customer service before it begins all over again.
Along the way, the marketing cycle involves product development, pricing, packaging, distribution, advertising and promotion, and all the steps involved in making the sale and serving the customer well.
The process is exactly the same whether yours is a start-up or an existing business, whether your budget is large or small, whether your market is local or global, and whether you sell through the Internet, via direct mail, or through a bricks-and-mortar location.
Just start at the top of the wheel and circle around clockwise in a never-ending process.
As you loop around the marketing wheel, here are the marketing actions you take:
Conduct research to gain knowledge about your customers, product, market area, and competitors.
Tailor your product, pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies to address your customers’ needs, your market environment, and your competitive realities.
Create and project marketing messages to reach your prospective customers, inspire their interest, and move them toward buying decisions.
Go for and close the sale — but don’t stop there.
After you make the sale, begin the customer service phase.
Work to develop relationships and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction so that you convert the initial sale into repeat business, loyalty, and word-of-mouth advertising for your business.
Interact with customers to gain insight about their wants and needs and their use of and opinions about your products and services.
Combine customer knowledge with ongoing research about your market area and competitive environment. Then use your findings to fine-tune your product, pricing, packaging, distribution, promotional messages, sales, and service.
And so the marketing process goes around and around.
Successful marketing has no shortcuts — you can’t just jump to the sale. To build a successful business, you need to follow every step in the marketing cycle.