Marketing For Dummies book cover

Marketing For Dummies

Authors:
Jeanette Maw McMurtry
Published: June 6, 2017

Overview

Pump up your business with the latest, greatest marketing techniques

This updated edition of Marketing for Dummies will walk you through the latest marketing technologies and methods, including customer experience, retargeting, digital engagement across all channels and devices, organic and paid SEO, Google ads, social media campaigns and posts, influencer and content marketing, and so much more. You’ll discover what works, what doesn’t, and what is best for your business and budget.

  • Learn the marketing and sales strategies that work in any economy
  • Discover how to engage customers with trust and enthusiasm
  • Understand post-pandemic changes in consumer attitudes
  • Discover new tools and technologies for finding customers and inspiring loyalty
  • Adapt your brand, pricing, and sales approach to make your business more valuable
  • Avoid common marketing mistakes and learn how to measure the impact of your efforts

In a post-pandemic, up or down economy, it’s harder than ever to meet highly complex and ever-changing customer expectations. The top-selling Marketing For Dummies covers basics like sales strategy, channel selection and development, pricing, and advertising. We also teach you complex elements like personalization, customer behavior, purchasing trends, ESG ratings, and market influences. With this complete guide, you can build a business that not only competes in a challenging market, but wins.

For small to mid-size business owners and marketing professionals, Marketing For Dummies lets you harness the latest ideas to drive traffic, boost sales, and move your business forward.

Pump up your business with the latest, greatest marketing techniques

This updated edition of Marketing for Dummies will walk you through the latest marketing technologies and methods, including customer experience, retargeting, digital engagement across all channels and devices, organic and paid SEO, Google ads, social media campaigns and posts, influencer and content marketing, and so much more. You’ll discover what works, what doesn’t, and what is best for your business and budget.

  • Learn the marketing and sales strategies that work in any economy
  • Discover how to engage customers with trust and enthusiasm
  • Understand post-pandemic changes in consumer attitudes
  • Discover new tools and technologies for finding customers and inspiring loyalty
  • Adapt your brand, pricing, and sales approach
to make your business more valuable
  • Avoid common marketing mistakes and learn how to measure the impact of your efforts

  • In a post-pandemic, up or down economy, it’s harder than ever to meet highly complex and ever-changing customer expectations. The top-selling Marketing For Dummies covers basics like sales strategy, channel selection and development, pricing, and advertising. We also teach you complex elements like personalization, customer behavior, purchasing trends, ESG ratings, and market influences. With this complete guide, you can build a business that not only competes in a challenging market, but wins.

    For small to mid-size business owners and marketing professionals, Marketing For Dummies lets you harness the latest ideas to drive traffic, boost sales, and move your business forward.

    Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

    You can read a dozen books on marketing strategies for current times, or you can read Marketing For Dummies, 6th Edition for everything you need to know about engaging today’s complex consumers, succeeding at e-commerce, winning the SEO game, driving sales through email, social media, and direct mail campaigns, using diverse channels effectively, and much more. This Cheat Sheet outlines marketing strategies and tactics, and ways to boost results with creativity.

    Articles From The Book

    28 results

    Marketing Articles

    13 Cheap Market Research Methods You Can Do Yourself

    Here are some things you can begin to do for a new marketing campaign for your small business. Before you hire professionals, see what you can do yourself.

    Compare your approach to that of your competitors

    When you compare your marketing approach to competitors, you easily find out what customers like best. Make a list of the things that your competitors do differently than you. Does one of them price higher? Does another give away free samples? Do some of them offer money-back guarantees?

    Make a list of at least five points of difference between your business and its major competitors based on an analysis of marketing practices. Now ask ten of your best customers to review this list and tell you what they prefer — your way or one of the alternatives — and ask them why. Keep a tally. You may find that all your customers vote in favor of doing something differently than the way you do it now.

    Create a customer profile

    Collect or take photographs of people (from Facebook or email thumbnails, and with the individuals’ permission) who you characterize as your typical customers. Post these pictures on a bulletin board — either a real one or a virtual one like Pinterest (set this board to private because it’s definitely not for sharing beyond your marketing team) — and add any facts or information you can collect about these people. Consider this board your customer database. Whenever you aren’t sure what to do about any marketing decision, sit down in front of your bulletin board and use it to help you tune in to your customers and what they do and don’t like.

    Entertain customers to get their input

    Entertaining your customers puts you in contact with them in a relaxed setting where they’re happy to share their views. Hold a customer appreciation event or invite good customers to a lunch or dinner. Use such occasions to ask for suggestions and reactions. Bounce a new product idea off these good customers, or find out what features they’d most like to see improved. Your customers can provide an expert panel for your informal research — you just have to provide the food! After they get to know you, they may be happy to give you ongoing quick feedback via a chat room, Twitter, or a group text message, especially if they use these media routinely themselves.

    Use email to do one-question surveys

    If you market to businesses, you probably have email addresses for many of your customers. Try emailing 20 or more of them for a quick opinion on a question. The result? Instant survey! If a clear majority of respondents say they prefer using a corporate credit card to being invoiced because the card is more convenient, well, you’ve just gotten a useful research result that may help you revise your marketing approach.

    Always ask people for their email addresses whenever you interact with them, through your website or in person, so as to build a large email list.

    Emailing your question to actual customers or users of your product is far better, by the way, than trying to poll users of social networking websites for their opinions. Sure, you may be able to get a bunch of responses from people on Twitter, but would those responses be representative of your actual customers? Probably not.

    Research government databases

    Many countries gather and post extensive data on individuals, households, and businesses, broken down into a variety of categories. In the United States, you can find out how many people earn above a certain annual income and live in a specific city or state — useful if you’re trying to figure out how big the regional market may be for a luxury product. Similarly, you can find out how many businesses operate in your industry and what their sales are in a specific city or state — useful if you’re trying to decide whether that city has a market big enough to warrant you moving into it.

    If you want to use the web to explore useful data compiled and posted by various agencies of the US government, visit the United States Census Bureau website and check out the data on households and businesses. This site is your portal to US data from the economic census (which goes out to 5 million businesses every five years) and the Survey of Business Owners.

    Establish a trend report

    Set up a trend report, a document that gives you a quick indication of a change in buying patterns, a new competitive move or threat, and any other changes that your marketing may need to respond to. You can compile one by emailing salespeople, distributors, customer service staff, repair staff, or friendly customers once a month, asking them for a quick list of any important trends they see in the market. (You flatter people by letting them know that you value their opinions, and email makes giving those opinions especially easy.) Print and file these reports from the field and go back over them every now and then for a long-term view of the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

    If you don’t work for one of the handful of largest and best-funded companies in your industry, then your trend analysis should also include careful tracking of what those giants are doing because they may be setting marketing or product trends that affect the rest of their industry. Tracking media coverage is easy on Google or other search engines.

    Analyze competitors’ collateral

    Print out or clip and collect marketing materials (brochures, ads, web pages, and so on) from competitors and analyze them by using a claims table. Open up a spreadsheet (or draw a blank table on a piece of paper or poster board) and label the columns of this new table, one for each competitor. Label each row with a feature, benefit, or claim. Add key phrases or words from an ad in the appropriate cell. Include one to three of the most prominent or emphasized claims per competitor. When filled in, this claims table shows you, at a glance, what territory each competitor stakes out and how it does the staking. One may claim it’s the most efficient, another the most helpful, and so on. Compare your own claims with those of your competitors. Are you impressive by comparison, or does a more dominant and impressive competitor’s claims overshadow you? Do your claims stand out as unique, or are you lacking clear points of difference?

    Research your strengths

    Perhaps the most important element of any marketing plan or strategy is clearly recognizing what makes you especially good and appealing to customers. To research your strengths, find the simplest way to ask ten good customers this simple but powerful question: “What’s the best thing about our (fill in the name of your product or service), from your perspective?” The answers to this question usually focus on one or, at most, a few features or aspects of your business. Finding out how your customers identify your strengths is a boon to your marketing strategy.

    Investing in your strengths (versus your competitors’ strengths or your weaknesses) tends to grow your sales and profits more quickly and efficiently.

    Probe your customer records

    Most marketers fail to mine their own databases for all of the useful information those databases may contain. Study your customers with the goal of identifying three common traits that make them different or special. This goal helps you focus on what your ideal customer looks like so you can look for more of them.

    Test your marketing materials

    Whether you’re looking at a letter, catalog, web page, tear sheet, press release, or ad, you can improve the piece’s effectiveness by asking for reviews from a few customers, distributors, or others with knowledge of your business. Do they get the key message quickly and clearly? Do they think the piece is interesting and appealing? If they’re only lukewarm about it, then you know you need to edit or improve it before spending the money to publish and distribute it. Customer reviewers can tell you quickly whether you have real attention-getting wow-power in any marketing piece. Just ask a half dozen people to review a new marketing piece while it’s still in draft form.

    Interview defectors

    Your company’s records of past customers are an absolute gold mine of information that can be easily overlooked. Use these records to figure out what types of customers defect, when, and why.

    If you can’t pinpoint why a customer abandoned you (from a complaint or a note from the salesperson, for example), try to contact the lost customer and ask him directly.

    Ask kids about trends

    In consumer marketing, it’s best if customers think you’re cool and your competitors aren’t. Because kids lead the trends in modern society, why not ask them what those trends are? Ask them simple questions like, “What will the next big thing be in (name your product or service here)?” Or try asking kids this great question: “What’s cool and what’s not cool this year?” Why? Because they know, and you don’t. For example, if teenage girls know what the next cool color combo will be, the way to find out is simple: Ask them what colors they want their room to be. (Or visit social media sites that skew toward younger members and see how they’re decorating their pages.)

    Create custom web analytics

    Web analytics are readily available for your websites and blogs, but they’re mostly traffic counts of various kinds. You probably want to know about sales, not just visitors. What are the most meaningful indicators of success on the web? Just as you (hopefully) do off-line, track online sales, repeat sales, lead collection, quality of leads (measured by rate of conversion), sign-ups, use of offers (such as you may post on a business site on Facebook, for example), and overall revenue and returns from e-marketing. These numbers tell the story of your marketing successes and failures online and give you something to learn from as you go.

    Marketing Articles

    10 Common Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

    Learning from other marketers’ mistakes is always better than making your own. This information presents ten all‐too‐common marketing mistakes businesses of all sizes make and how to avoid them so you can keep your sales and marketing efforts on track.

    Making assumptions

    Assuming that you know your customers, their preferences, their loyalty to you, and the competitive environment in which you operate is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. In most cases, you’re likely wrong. With all the research and feedback tools available today to help you monitor the voice of your customers and their real needs and attitudes, there’s no reason to ever assume anything. Regularly survey your customers to see what they like and don’t like about your brand, your products, and your service. Do surveys to update your Net Promoter Score (NPS) as well. During transactions, ask for individual feedback and engage in social listening. Analyze results to identify trends and things you can do to maintain and increase satisfaction.

    Ignoring customer complaints

    With all the social media channels available, unhappy customers can share a bad brand experience with literally thousands of people in a matter of minutes. In addition to their Facebook, Twitter, and other social accounts, they can quickly post negative reviews about you and/or your products on Yelp, Google, Amazon, and other sites that masses of consumers browse daily.

    Whenever this happens, and it will, respond immediately on the site the customer used for the complaint, and let the unhappy customer and others know that you care about each customer and ask what you can do to make it right.

    Faking popularity

    Just like all the “fake news” on social media channels, there’s often also a lot of “fake likes.” Just look at your Twitter messages; chances are you have an offer from someone trying to sell you “followers.” Like fake news, this isn’t acceptable by any business standards because you’re portraying your brand as more popular and successful than you are and misleading consumers about your market position.

    Using dirty data

    Nothing’s quite like getting a great offer from a brand you’ve been loyal to for years only to find out that the great offer applies only to new customers! When this happens, it’s often the result of a brand not cleaning up its data to sort out prospects and customers. With all the customer relationship management (CRM) and data management systems available today at many price points, there’s no excuse for this anymore. Customers expect personalized communications about their relationships with you and rewards for their loyalty, and when, after years of giving you their business, non‐customers get a better offer than you’ve given them, you can damage that relationship beyond repair.

    Competing on price

    Discounts and price cuts have their place but only temporarily, such as when you’re trying to stimulate first‐time trial and build a base of customers for future email or social media campaigns. Keeping prices low for an extended period of time or offering low prices frequently just puts customers on notice to hold off and never pay full price. You quickly position your brand as the budget option, which limits your appeal, and once you lower a price, you’ll have a hard time ever raising it again. Although reducing prices to meet sales goals may be tempting, keep in mind that repeated price promotions can erode brand value and create fickle customers who abandon you for the competitors’ promotions.

    Ignoring the emotional drivers of choice

    90 percent of people’s thoughts and behavior are driven by their unconscious minds. People respond more to dopamine rushes that make them feel euphoric and unbeatable and oxytocin that makes them feel connected, accepted, and loved than they respond to clever ads or blow‐out pricing specials. When you tap the emotional drivers that influence how people feel about themselves and the world around them, you influence behavior. All you do should be based on creating positive feelings and on building trust. Without trust, you can’t tap into much of anything else.

    Forgetting to edit

    If your letter, email, website, print ad, sign, or billboard has a typo in it, people remember that goof and forget the rest. Not only can sloppy mistakes make a bad first impression among prospects, but they can also make people question the amount of attention you pay to detail when producing your products, managing your invoices, and executing on customer service. Edit carefully and get someone else to look over your shoulder to make sure nothing slips by. Your brand is only as good as your reputation.

    Offering what you can’t deliver

    When you make promises you’re not sure you can deliver on, you put yourself in the category of bad salespeople who can’t be trusted. In addition, if you try to roll out a product that doesn’t work yet or before you’ve worked out all the details for execution, service, and troubleshooting, you set customers up to have a bad experience with you. Either way, you lose trust and potential sales. In most, if not all cases, those disappointed customers can find another supplier from whom to purchase and to whom to assign their loyalty.

    Treating customers impersonally

    Every customer is a person who likes to be treated as such. No one likes to be a number. Today, with all the CRM technology, you can usually identify who is on the other end of a phone call. When you can, you should address that person by name, thank her for her business, and ask if you can do anything else to make her happy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and take a hard look at all your customer interactions. Are they as personal as they should be? If not, invest in better list‐checking, a central database of customers, training in how to pronounce customer names, and whatever else it takes to allow your business to treat all customers like important individuals.

    Blaming the customer

    It’s easy to think that an irate customer is out of line and overreacting. But regardless, you need to take the high road and let the customer be right — within reason, of course. As Neiman Marcus is famous for stating, “The customer is always right” when it to comes to how she feels she should have been treated or the ­quality of product she thought she was buying.

    This doesn’t mean you have to let people take advantage of you. But when someone has to vent, listen. Try to offer a solution that you both can live with. Whether you work it out or not, you need to remain professional, reasonable, calm, and courteous. If you don’t and even if you were justified, the customer can easily smear your reputation online, and that’s a risk you can’t take.

    Marketing Articles

    Organizing Your Sales Team and Marketing Your Products

    Who does what, when, and where? Such organizational questions plague many sales or marketing managers, and those questions can make a big difference to sales force productivity. Should your salespeople work out of local, regional, or national offices? Should you base them in offices where staff members provide daily support and their boss can supervise their activities closely? Or should you set them free to operate on the road or out of their homes? Or, if you have a small business, should you do all the selling, or does bringing in a salesperson on commission make sense?

    Determining how many salespeople you need

    If you have an existing sales force, you can examine the performance of each territory to decide whether more salespeople can help or whether you can do with less and where basic sales service may be falling through the cracks. Ask yourself the following questions to help you optimize your sales organization:
    • Are some territories rich in prospects that salespeople just don’t have time to get to? Then consider splitting those territories or adding salespeople.
    • Are you experiencing high customer turnover in a territory as a result of poor service or other factors that can be controlled?
    • Are you operating in some territories with little sales potential that could be detracting your efforts from those with higher potential?

    Hiring your own or using reps

    You have to decide whether to hire salespeople yourself or subcontract. Most industries have good sales companies that take on the job of hiring and managing salespeople for you. Called sales representatives (or just reps), they usually work for a straight commission of between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the industry and how much room you have in your pricing structure for their commission. Reps that perform consultative selling and customized service often expect, and deserve, a higher commission.

    If you have a small company or a short product line, using sales reps makes the most sense. They’re the best option whenever you have scale problems that make justifying the cost of hiring your own dedicated salespeople somewhat difficult. Scale problems arise when you have a too‐short product line, which means that salespeople don’t have very much to sell to customers, and/or sales calls produce small orders that don’t cover the cost of the call. Reps usually handle many companies’ product lines so that they have more products to show prospects when they call making the potential of a return much higher.

    If you have a long enough product line to justify hiring and managing your own dedicated salespeople, doing so will give you more control and better feedback from the market. A dedicated sales force generally outsells a sales rep by two and ten times as much because their sales focus is your product line.

    Finding good sales reps

    How do you find sales reps? Word‐of‐mouth referrals or meeting at a trade show or industry conference are great ways to find out who is reputable, presents well, and is available. Or, even simpler, ask the buyers of products such as the one you sell for names of reps who currently call on them.

    A growing number of hub websites offer access to sales reps and manufacturers reps as well as freelance salespeople who work under short‐term contracts. These sites provide leads, not final answers, so make sure you do your screening carefully, and if you do hire someone, do it on a trial basis to start. Here are some of the options on the web today:

    • Goodcall, which claims to have “everything you need to run an outsourced sales team”
    • Time to Hire, which helps you locate sales reps
    • Guru, which cues up sales reps’ ads or posts your project description for them to respond to
    • RepHunter, which specializes in manufacturers reps and independent reps
    • SalesAgentHUB, where you can register as a company in need of reps
    • GreatRep, where you can search the rep database, view postings of Lines Wanted, or post under Reps Wanted

    Managing reps effectively

    After you have reps lined up for each territory, you must monitor their sales efforts on a regular basis. Which rep firms sell the best (and worst)? Usually, 10 or 15 percent of the reps make almost all your sales. Monitor your reps to find the best and make changes quickly to cut your losses and maximize your sales potential. And train each rep in how to tell your brand story so your message and ESP are consistent across all reps and marketing channels.

    Compensating your sales force

    If you want to recruit top‐tier salespeople, you need to offer them a top‐tier compensation plan. Find a way to make your compensation model different from the norm in your industry to make your job openings really stand out. For example, if you want to make sure your salespeople take a highly consultative, service‐­oriented approach with long‐term support and relationship building, make your compensation salary‐based. If you give them sales incentives, consider bonuses linked to long‐term customer retention or to increased value among existing customers. Your compensation plan will then stand out from competitors and send a clear signal about the kind of sales behavior you expect. Similarly, if you want the most self‐motivated salespeople, offer more commission than the competition.

    The details of what you must offer in base salary and in commissions vary so much from industry to industry and region to region that you need to research comparable positions to establish a base before you design your compensation plan.

    Whatever you pay them, salespeople and reps do best when they have high task clarity, defined as clear links from their sales efforts to positive results. Make sure they have the products, leads, knowledge, and support to be successful. You’ll find that success is the greatest motivator, and your sales force enjoys the process of selling for you.