Three things are certain in the life of an entrepreneur, professional, graduate, or job seeker: death, taxes and selling. At some point, you will need to convey the value of what you are offering – products, services, skills and talents - to customers, employers, and investors. This is where marketing comes in, writes guest blogger Kudzanai Thondhlana, co-founder of Zimbabwean creative agency Creative Natives Africa. However, before you can start marketing and selling, you need to know what the value is of what you are offering and what value your audience is seeking.
Many people rush into marketing activities by plunging themselves into the question of which marketing activities they should engage in. This often leads to haphazard marketing campaigns with no cohesion or central theme. Should you invest in social media platforms or radio adverts? Does a website really bring traffic and return on investment? Should you as a professional register with employment agencies to increase your chances of getting a job? Whilst all of these are important considerations, these type of questions need to be guided by what value you have, what value you want to convey, and the value your audience is seeking.
Define your value
It is important to define what your value is before engaging in any marketing or sales related activities. What product, service, or skill are you offering? Why are you offering this particular product, service, or skill? Where do you offer it? What is unique about it? Answering these questions will help you define what your offering’s main benefits are, as well as its mission and vision, the values that motivate what you do, and your unique selling proposition. These elements form the basis of your communication strategy with your target audience, whether it is a future employer, customer, or business partner.
Know your audience
Defining your offering is not enough. Selling, after all, is a meeting of several minds. That is why it is important to know and understand what the demand side requires. You must know and define what your audience is looking for and what value it is seeking. What are their short and long term goals? What are they looking for in a particular product or service? Do they look at price, quality or service? Where do they go to for more information about potential solutions to their problems? The answers to these questions will help you communicate your value according to what your audience is looking for.
Reaching your audience
Other things you will have to think about is which channels to use to reach and engage with your audience. The content you should create to convey your message is important too, as well as the tone and personality of your marketing messages. This will help you align your marketing activities and build relationships with your target audience. Knowing the value of your products, services, and skills and understanding the value your audience is seeking is the foundation of all your marketing and sales activities.
As a business owner, you should know that personalised service forms a key part of the value you are offering. Understanding your audience and what they seek service-wise will enable you to develop targetted marketing messages.
Something similar applies to graduates. Emphasise your foreign language capabilities in your cover letter and social media pages if you want to attract the attention of employers seeking multi-lingual candidates. Professionals with experience in a number different industries should put that to the foreground when an opening arises for a Jack of All Trades. In other words: to effectively market and sell yourself, you must first know thyself and know thy audience.
About the author: Kudzanai Thondhlana is the co-founder of Zimbabwean creative agency Creative Natives Africa. He currently serves as the firm's Business Development and Marketing Director. Creative Natives Africa can be followed on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.