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Marketing is the lifeblood of a business. And yet many entrepreneurs never set up their marketing foundations and instead rely on things like "gut instinct" or "what they've always done. The result? They often find themselves in a perpetual state of firefighting, running from one crisis to another without ever getting ahead.

If you want to avoid this fate, then it's time to get serious. This means having a clear understanding of who your target market is, what type of media they consume, how you're going to capture new leads, how you'll nurture prospects into ready-to-buy leads and how you'll convert those leads into paying customers that come back time and time again.

Let's take a closer look at each of these marketing foundations:

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Define, articulate and document your brand foundations

The first step is to make sure your branding is on point. This means having a clear understanding of what your brand represents and how you want to be perceived by customers.

You will specifically want to understand and be able to articulate your target market, buyer personas and messaging. You'll also need to create a style guide that lays out the fonts, colours and other branding elements you'll use so everything is consistent across all marketing channels.

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Uncover the best media sources to reach your target market

Once you have your branding in place, it's time to think about the best media sources to reach your target market. This includes understanding what kind of content they consume and where they spend their time online

You may want to consider which platforms are best for paid advertising, organic reach or building relationships.

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Create a system that will capture leads for your marketing funnels

Once you know who your target market is and what media they consume, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to capture leads

Lead capture is the process of getting someone's contact information in exchange for something of value, like a free ebook, guide or white paper. You'll need to create an opt-in form and put it on your website and compile all the collected data into a CRM or marketing automation tool.

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Design and implement a prospect nurturing system

Now that you have a database of leads, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to follow up and nurture them into ready-to-buy customers.

This process, called lead nurturing, involves sending targeted content and offers to people based on where they are in the buying process. You'll want to make sure you have a lead nurturing strategy in place that includes a mix of email, social media and content marketing.

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Time to convert those hot leads into paying customers

Once you've nurtured your leads into ready-to-buy customers you'll need a system in place for converting them into paying customers. You'll need to set up a payment gateway and create a sales process that's easy to follow.

This process, called lead conversion, involves closing the sale and can be done through a variety of methods, including face-to-face meetings, phone calls, webinars or online courses.

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Deliver a truely remarkable customer experience

In order to keep your customers coming back, you'll need to provide them with a world-class customer experience. This means taking care of them from the moment they enter your website or social media page until the time they become raving fans.

Our goal is to take our customers a step beyond the transaction and make them feel appreciated and valued.

Some ways you can deliver a world-class customer experience include providing 24/7 support, personalising your interactions, going above and beyond to solve problems and using positive reinforcement.

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Increase the lifetime value of your customers

The lifetime value of a customer is the total amount of money they spend with you over the course of their relationship and It's much easier to convert an existing customer than a brand new customer.

Increasing your lifetime value is about finding ways to encourage customers to keep spending money with you.

Some ways to increase the lifetime value are by providing them with additional products and services, upselling and cross-selling, running loyalty programs and creating VIP experiences.

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Win new customers by orchestrating referrals

The best way to increase the number of new customers is through word-of-mouth referrals. This is when current customers refer their colleagues, friends or family to your business.

You can encourage referrals by offering incentives, like discounts or free products, to customers when they make a referral. You can also make it easy for them to refer you by creating referral codes and sharing links. Either way, you'll need a referral process in place.

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Marketing is a complex process that involves human behaviour and cognition. With this in mind, it's important to remember the importance of creating an effective marketing foundation for your business. This includes establishing what type of media sources are best for reaching your target market, how you'll convert prospects into ready-to-buy hot leads, how you will deliver a world-class customer experience and how you will increase the lifetime value of your customers.

The key to a successful marketing strategy is laying a strong foundation and following through with a well-orchestrated plan. By focusing on the marketing foundations, you'll be putting your business in a strong position for long-term success.