Success in marketing, as with all other areas in business (and in life) comes from mastering the fundamentals. But for some strange reason, when it comes to marketing, people often get seduced by bright shiny objects (latest fads, tactics, etc) and totally ignore the fundamentals…

So, in this article, I want to talk about what I believe are the fundamentals of small business marketing success. In my view, here are the 3 things you need to know and focus on, in order to be an effective marketer of your business…

1. Your Customers

The most important ingredient to any advertising or marketing campaign is knowledge of your prospective customers and current customers.

You need to uncover your ideal customer’s desires, motivations, questions, and objections. And your goal is to create an offer that makes it easy and risk-free to start doing business with you.

When it comes to online marketing, you’ll need to identify the words your ideal customer is searching to find your type of service or product. As you’re doing this research, it’s important to realize that all customers are NOT made equal. You’ll want to identify what kind of customers you want to attract, as well as the customers you want to repel.

If you’re advertising with Google AdWords, you’ll identify which keywords you’ll want to avoid displaying your ads for (these are known as “negative keywords”). For example, if you own a new car dealership, you’d want to make “used” or “pre-owned” negative keywords because those clicks would be irrelevant (and would waste your budget).

2. Your Competitors

The second key to success is to know your competition. Specifically, you’ll want to create a superior value proposition, so customers have a good reason to do business with you instead of the competition.

We refer to this superior value proposition as your Unique Selling Proposition (or USP). Your USP is the cornerstone of all effective marketing campaigns. And often, the best starting point to creating your USP is competitive research.

If you’re going to advertise in Google AdWords, search for your main phrases, see who is advertising, and start analyzing their ads. What are your competitors’ main selling points? What selling points do your competitors have in common? Do any of your competitors have a USP?

Most people don’t take the time to analyze their competitors… but you’ll be glad you did. Chances are, you’ll find that most of your competitors’ advertising is pretty lame and unimpressive, and that’ll provide even more motivation to jump into the fray and differentiate your business.

3. Your Metrics

The third key ingredient to successful marketing is to know your metrics. And there are two different sets of numbers you’ll need to know.

First, in the planning phase, you need to run some numbers before you start investing in marketing. You’ll determine how much you afford to spend to acquire a customer, and if you’re advertising with Google AdWords, you’ll determine how much can you really afford to pay per-click.

Next, you’ll need to set up tracking so you can analyze your key marketing metrics. You’ll need to know your average cost to acquire a customer. And if you’re advertising in AdWords, you’ll want to determine the profitability of your various keywords and campaigns, so you know how and where to reinvest.

As the late great Jim Rohn said, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

Successful marketers and business owners master these 3 fundamentals of marketing: your customers, competitors, and numbers. And if you want to build a successful marketing system, you will want to master them, too.