Marketing can be a fickle exercise. Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned campaigns can become a lesson in what not to do. Just ask Burger King, whose misadvised, political marketing campaign asking customers to pay more for quicker service generated nothing but bad heat (no pun intended).
Still, marketing is an essential tool for businesses of all sizes looking to grow awareness and engagement. For salt cave business owners, marketing is a necessary function for generating new clients, retaining and building relationships and creating a return on your investment.
A thorough marketing plan should be part of your overall Business Plan, prepared with forethought to your salt cave design and construction.
Focusing on these four steps will help take the marketing of your salt cave business to the next level.
Step 1: Analysis
Carpenters will tell you: measure twice, cut once. That is, make sure you plan adequately before taking action. When it comes to your salt cave business, this means undertaking some analysis to get a better sense of where you stand.
Types of analysis that might benefit your salt cave business:
Environmental Analysis: This type of analysis considers external factors that may affect your business. You should conduct a scan of the political, social, economic, and technological climates to identify if there are any threats or opportunities for your salt cave business. For example, could a political decision or fluctuating economic activity impact your business based on your geographic location?
Customer Analysis: Market research is a valuable tool to help business owners understand their clients. It helps you to gain insight into who your customers are and what they need. Are there any cultural, social or situational influences impacting your demographics? Perhaps you find that your target demographic is females, aged 20-50; maybe it’s males, aged 45-60. Whatever the case, knowing your market segments will help you better direct your marketing efforts. For example, what are your customer’s choice criteria? Depending on their segmentation, they could be more influenced by prestige, quality, or price, or some other factor.
Competitor Analysis: It’s important to know what you’re up against. Take a look to see if you have any direct or indirect competitors. If you do, see what they are doing to market their services. This will help you identify your own differentiating features.
Company Analysis: Look inward at your own salt cave business. How are you positioned in your customer’s mind? Think about who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. What are your major strengths and weaknesses? What is your short term and long-term plan?
Step 2: Define Your Value Proposition
While this area should be covered in your salt cave business plan, it is an important consideration for marketing. Value proposition means the value that you, uniquely, will bring to your customers. What value do you offer? Perhaps you are the only salt cave business in your local area. Maybe you differentiate your salt cave space by offering additional services like yoga, meditation or reiki. Perhaps you intend to include a water cascade in your salt cave to amplify the sensory experience for your guests. Whatever is unique about your business is your value proposition and it is what you will use to market your salt cave business.
Step 3: The Ps of Marketing
As a salt cave business owner, you should consider the Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and Packaging.
Product: What product(s) are you selling? How do you distinguish your value proposition? How will you seek to meet your customers’ needs?
Price: What are your products or services going to cost? How do your prices compare to those of your competitors? When creating a pricing strategy, remember to be flexible, as prices may change depending on a number of factors. For example, are you going to be offering promotions to guests who visit your salt cave business regularly? Should you, or do you need to, establish a price above your competitors’ to maintain perceived quality?
Promotion: How are you going to communicate and sell (promote) your salt cave? There are many ways you can market a salt cave, via social media, print and/or digital advertising, etc. Each channel may take a different approach in terms of the message and content you use for promotion. Think about what your advertising or promotion plan will seek to achieve in each channel. This will also help you establish a budget and rationale for each promotion.
Place: These are the channels or mediums that you actually use for marketing. There are plenty of free and paid options where you can advertise, and your choice of place will vary depending on your budget and message. Social media—sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—are great options for salt cave businesses. With these avenues, you often have the ability to target clients geographically and by demographic. As well, you’ll be able to get a measured return on your investment and understand the reach and influence of your marketing materials. Also, consider free avenues like Google Business Map—by adding your salt cave business to a Google map, you add credibility for your business, make it easier for clients to locate you and provide your guest with opportunities to leave business reviews (which helps Google populate your business in search results). You can also create Yelp and TripAdvisor pages for your business free of charge, allowing clients to find you more easily online and leave reviews when they have positive experiences. You should also investigate which channels your competitors are using, so that you are not lacking a presence in any one medium.
Packaging: This is all about how your business looks. Make sure your website is professional, with high-quality photos of your salt cave. Do you currently have a strong brand image? Catchy, succinct advertising copy revealing your value proposition will complement your visual marketing elements.
Step 4: Continuous Improvement
Marketing is an ongoing activity, as should be reflected in your plan. Create a contingency plan to anticipate different possible scenarios and outcomes that could take place. Evaluate how your marketing is going and be prepared to shift your activities if some are working better than others. There is no one right answer and each salt cave business is different, so be prepared to evaluate and re-evaluate plans as they move forward.
As your salt cave business grows and evolves, so too will your marketing efforts. Be sure to take heed of what works for others and what doesn’t.