PUBLISHED: Jul 1, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Basics – Everything You Need to Know

Shahid Abbasi

What’s the end goal of every business? I would like to answer that point-blank – to drive the bottom line!

So, all our endeavours to inform customers, earn their trust and loyalty, improve brand awareness and customer experience, and differentiate ourselves from the competition help us achieve this end goal. That makes marketing a key business driver!

Clearly, understanding the basics of marketing is critical to your success as a marketer and that of your business. Here’s what top marketing experts have to say about the role of marketing in the business world.

‘Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to master.’ – Philip Kotler

‘I am all for conversations, but you need to have a message.’ – Renee Blodgett

‘Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.’ – Joe Chernov

‘Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day’ – Beth Comstock

‘Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.’ – Milan Kundera

The above marketing proverbs are super powerful. But you may be feeling a contradiction between them.

If you read these quotes carefully, you’ll realize –

  • They address a specific group of marketers with the relevant basics OR
  • They are based on relevant marketing basics targeted to a specific group of marketers

Thus, it is critical to recognize that each group of marketer has specific marketing fundamentals relevant to that group. So, let’s begin by classifying marketers in five major groups based on their experience, roles, and responsibilities.

  1. Beginner Marketers: These aspiring marketers have just begun their journey in marketing as a team member of a startup or a growing business. They are primarily in the learning phase and execute predefined marketing tactics.
  2. Intermediate Marketers: They possess a few years of experience, lead a small marketing team, and deliver the results based on predefined KPIs.
  3. Experienced Marketers: They possess a fair amount of experience in the marketing domain. They work as the project manager and use their expertise to bring out the best in their team. They are actively involved in growth hacking.
  4. Marketing Gurus/Celebrities: These professionals have several years of marketing experience, play multiple roles for various companies, including demand generation and forecasting.
  5. Entrepreneurs: These include greenhorn as well as seasoned entrepreneurs with a passion to learn and experiment with various marketing tactics. This group includes founders and/or CEOs who are driven towards business success.

Regardless of the group you belong to, this post will offer you practicable knowledge about marketing fundamentals relevant to you!

A. Marketing Basics for Beginner Marketers:

Consider the pointers shared below to develop your marketing skills and apply them to your existing campaigns.

1. Promotion

Promotion is spreading awareness about your firm’s offerings. Traditionally, marketers used TV advertising, personal selling, sales, and billboards for brand promotion. The online marketing efforts include content marketing, public relations, SEO, PPC, social media, and ads.

Whichever mode of promotion you use, remember to focus on developing the supportive skills that ensure the effectiveness of the promotional campaign. For example, content marketing and SEO require exceptional content writing skills. Similarly, social media and PPC cannot be successful in the absence of good copywriting.

Simply put, that’s how promotion is placed: write > optimize > promote.

2. Ethical Tactics

Ethics refer to promoting your products and services to help people and win their trust. Refrain from using unethical promotional efforts. That’s a sure-shot way to earn customer trust and build credibility.

The efforts include:

  • User experience improvements
  • On-page SEO practices
  • Off-page SEO tactics
  • Improvement in Site speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Internal linking structure
  • Structured markup
  • Social media posts
  • Ad copies
  • Billboards, TV Ads, etc.

B. Marketing Basics for Intermediate Marketers:

The marketers who are responsible for delivering the KPI-based performance using the allotted resources should consider the following basics.

3. Goal

Determine the core purpose of your campaign. Are you looking at attracting more visitors, creating brand awareness, or generating more sales? Your goal shapes the marketing efforts you need to put in.

For example, you could be aiming at boosting your brand awareness is your goal in terms of website traffic. Alternatively, increasing sales could be about creating conversion funnel or a lead flow.

By considering ‘Goal’ as a marketing basic, you will be able to increase your campaigns’ profitability, get more traffic, and optimize your marketing spend.

4. Understand Customers

Marketing to a customer you don’t know is a shot in the dark. Guesstimating has very little chance of success in marketing!

Understand who’s your target customer, their common problems, and work towards offering a possible solution with an effective elevator pitch.

Learning about their motivation and interests will make your promotion more relevant, persuading your audience to make a purchase decision in your favour. So, understand your customer first to boost sales and traffic.

Read our market research blog post to learn more about understanding your audience.

5. Differentiation

Differentiation is what sets you apart from the clutter! It’s the ‘why’ in your marketing strategy, giving people the reason to choose you over the competition.

Most businesses strive to offer better products or service with respect to their features, price, and customer reviews. However, not all of them succeed.

It’s the polarizing brands or the brands that stand for something that are easily remembered. Owing to their ability to stand out, these brands claim a larger market share than the others that just try to fit in.

As shared earlier, differentiation answers the questions –
Why you?
Why your business?
What makes you better than the competitors?

The bestseller Purple Cow by Seth Godin which takes the concept of being ‘remarkable’ to the next level. If you haven’t read it yet, then it is highly recommended. Here’s a short video that explains the concept.

So, find out what differentiates you from others. Brainstorm with your team and interview your existing and prospective customers to find out what makes you ‘remarkable’. Also, look at what your competitors aren’t doing. Maybe there’s something you are doing/offering better than them.

6. Place

By ‘Place’ I am referring to the logistics and distribution of the product or service. Is it available online, in-store, or through a mobile app? It gives details of how the products are available. These may include assortments, channels, coverage areas, locations, and inventories.

7. Process

The ‘Process’ refers to the steps which are required to communicate the brand messages to customers and deliver the service to them.

Having an effective process map in place makes the tasks easy for your employees, allowing them to work efficiently and avoid errors. Probably that’s the secret behind a few small but smart companies delivering massive results with very little staff. They have well-documented processes for every task.

C. Marketing Basics for Experienced Marketers:

As per my observation and study, experienced marketers, intentionally or unintentionally, adhere to the following marketing basics. Follow them to scale your marketing efforts.

8. Customer Research

Note: This point is a broader and deeper version of the marketing basics #5.

Customer research refers to creating customer-centric marketing campaigns that address customer pains, issues, and frustration. The business strives to address these through their offerings.

But it’s easier said than done! First, you need to know your ideal customer avatar or buyer persona. Determine the persona of an ideal customer who loves you and what you do and is happy to pay for the value you provide.

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Understand their challenges and create a message that appeals to them. That’s what will stick with them and make them appreciate the value you provide.

Use these factors to carve an ideal buyer persona.

  • Demographic: Age, Gender, Income Occupation, Job title.
  • Geographic: Living City, State, Country.
  • Psychographic: Attitude, Interest, Beliefs affiliations, Organizations.

The process of creating a customer avatar will help you understand your audience, allowing you to devise effective campaigns in the future.

9. Competitor Research

Competitor research is understanding what your competitors are up to and what tactics are helping them wow customers and gain market share. Further, once you know what your opponents are doing you are sure about one thing – you need to take a different approach to stand out.

Competitor research offers a wealth of insights. Therefore, it’s important to have an answer to this question –

Do you want to be better than them or do something different?

No approach is necessarily better than the other. Instead of trying to beat an opponent brand at their game, it’s prudent to identify the areas they have missed. Address that gap and come up with an offer that’s different.

Also, if your competitor seems like a step ahead of you, consider the following pointers to evaluate the real situation.

  • What they’re doing now may not be what got them there.
  • What they’re doing now may not be working, or be a bad plan.
  • They could be testing things.

Keeping an eye on competitors’ activities is good but don’t lose focus on your customers. Remember, you are in the business of creating and offering the best solutions to them.

10. Market Message Media Match

The effectiveness of your marketing largely depends on –

  • How well do you carve your ideal buyer persona?
  • What kind of brand messages are you sending? Are they resonating with your audience?
  • Is your message making them feel understood?
  • Where are you finding and connecting with them? Online or offline.

If you miss any one of these pointers, your marketing will not be effective enough to convert. Imagine missing out on identifying your ideal target market and their pain points! None of your efforts will be aligned with the target audience.

For this marketing fundamental, you need to pay attention to –

  • Market – Who?
  • Message – What?
  • Media – Where?

This will help you get the right message to the right audience and in the right place.

11. Lifetime Customer Value

Every business thrives on the value of a customer over their lifetime or the lifetime customer value. This simple metric helps businesses make informed strategic decisions, allowing them to use their resources optimally.

For instance, if your average lifetime customer value is $1000, you know how much marketing budget to allocate in acquiring and retaining the customer. So, in order to make a profit, you will refrain from spending more than this amount on acquiring them.

This makes lifetime customer value an important marketing basic as it helps you make the best use of your time, money, and resources.

12. People

Your team, consisting of employees, consultants, and freelancers are key to the success of your marketing campaigns as they are the ones who connect with and deliver service to your customers.

Make sure you recruit and train the right talent. They should imbibe your company values and add value to your organization. Are there any skill gaps? If yes, what training are you planning to prepare them?

You need to make sure that you have a good strategy to compete with other innovative companies in your industry to acquire talent.

D. Marketing Basics for Marketing Gurus / Celebrities:

13. Product/Service

PRODUCT/SERVICE refers to all the factors relating to the actual product or service available to the customer. These may include factors, such as quality, features, options, style, packaging, brand, sizes, labels, variety, and warranties.

Besides offering better products or services, you should aim at customer delight. In other words, strive to offer a remarkable customer experience.

14. Positioning

POSITIONING refers to where you stand and where your place is in the marketplace in comparison to your competitors. Positioning map determines your business’s position vis-a-vis your competitors.

Market Positioning Map

The important thing is to map out where your business fits on the spectrum whether:

  • High price, High quality
  • High price, Low quality
  • Low price, High quality
  • Low price, Low quality

15. Specialization

SPECIALIZATION refers to competing in a non-competitive space by carving out your own niche, an area you specialise in and can potentially dominate the market. The book Blue Ocean Strategy covers this topic effectively.

When it comes to carving out your position in the market, there are four different levels you can aim for.

  • GENERALIST who doesn’t really specialize in anything. In other words, this person is the Jack-of-all-trades. They’re going to be the lowest paid in general.
  • Above that is the SPECIALIST. This is someone who’s taken a specific industry or niche and is focusing all efforts towards it.
  • After that, you’ve got the EXTREME SPECIALIST. This is someone who’s taken the task of specialization to the next level by focusing on a smaller yet ultra-targeted market.
  • Finally, you have the highest paid of them all – CELEBRITY. A celebrity is synonymous with the business they are in. Essentially, they are the GURU in their space.

The point here is with specialization is that in general, it’s better to specialize and the higher up the pyramid you go from generalist to specialist to extreme specialists all the way up to celebrity, the better the rewards and the higher the profitability in general.

16. Segmentation

SEGMENTATION refers to reviewing your customers and segregating the ones that match your ideal customers persona/avatar. that you built back in step number #9.

These are the people that love your brand and are happy to pay for the value you provide. They are also willing to go that extra mile and refer your brand to their friends, family, and network. You definitely want more of these people.

Identify this set of customers and create a persona around them. Tailor your marketing and messaging such that it resonates with them.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to take a look at your top 20% of customers. Identify their traits or common attributes that they all share. You can find the full recipe in our previous blog post which shares interesting insights on how to do primary market research.

Properly segmenting your customers and really identifying those ideal customers that are worth the most to your business is going to allow you to focus more on them and give them more products and more services that they really enjoy and they really value.

17. Concentration

CONCENTRATION refers to identifying your business’s most profitable, enjoyable, easy-to-deliver services and focusing your efforts on them.

In segmentation, we segment our customers. Similarly, in concentration, the same is done with the most valuable products or services. This allows marketers to focus on the services that will actually move the profitability needle.

Use the below-mentioned criteria to guide you through this stage.

  • It should be fun
  • It should be profitable
  • It should be easy to deliver
  • It should be relatively easy to sell and have a high demand
  • It should be a sustainable business and not based on passing trends or fad

Ideally, this product or service should have the potential to be automated, delegated, or systematized, thus saving time and effort for all.

18. Pricing

PRICING refers to the value your product/service provides. There are two types of pricing you can choose from –

  1. Cost-based pricing – This is based on how much things cost. Apply a margin to it and share your price.
  2. Value-based pricing – This pricing is based on the value that the customer is going to receive. It’s a highly subjective type of pricing and can be influenced by effective marketing, packaging, design, and service.

The organization would have to do a study on the optimal pricing of their product or service based on value delivered to the customer.

E. Marketing Basics for Entrepreneurs:

This is the group to which all of the marketing basics discussed on this page belong. The following are based on authority you have.

19. Physical Evidence

Physical evidence involves everything the customer sees when interacting with your service or product.

The physical evidence capital would be:

  • A service brochure
  • A request for proposal
  • Social media accounts
  • A great website
  • A demo presentation video call
  • Impressive buildings
  • A well-trained staff

20. Track Everything

One aspect of digital marketing that I truly appreciate is the ability to track my efforts. In the case of traditional marketing, we are not really sure how many people see your message or whether they have taken action in your favour.

With digital marketing, you can measure everything. In fact, with the overload of data available, it can be easy to lose track of your goals. Hence, it’s important to track a few key metrics that help you make informed marketing decisions.

If your goal is to get more traffic to your website’s landing page, you will measure metrics related to that. Similarly, if you want people to take a certain action online, track conversions, calls, clicks, and key page views.

Start with one relevant metric and then measure how things are performing. You can keep adding new metrics to support your analysis.


Knowing your marketing basics or fundamentals is critical for business success. That’s one reason successful marketers spend a lot of time reviewing their efforts with respect to these fundamentals.

I would like to conclude with a simple marketing formula for success –

Customer pain/need/desire + The solution offered + Effective communication of this solution = customer’s life improved = effective marketing

What’s your take on marketing basics? Let me know in the comment section.

Shahid Abbasi

Shahid Abbasi is a senior technical SEO and content marketing lead at Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.

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