In this post, you’ll dis­cov­er the basics of mar­ket­ing 101. Bat­tle-test­ed mar­ket­ing strate­gies being used by the bright­est mar­ket­ing minds in the world right now.

Is there a secret to small busi­ness mar­ket­ing that con­verts? Some kind of voodoo mag­ic that can turn even the dullest prod­ucts and ser­vices into some­thing every­one wants?


And I have proof.

The year was 1975 and Gary Dahl, Amer­i­can copy­writer and adver­tis­ing agency own­er, was struck with an incred­i­ble idea.

With­in a few months, that idea made the man a mil­lion­aire. All thanks to a few mar­ket­ing basics.

I’m sure you know the sto­ry, although you may not be famil­iar with the dates and names. It’s the sto­ry of the famous “Pet Rock”.

That’s right. Dahl sold a mil­lion rocks with goo­gly eyes glued on them for $3.95 a pop.

Was it just the right fad at the right time?

Maybe. But Dahl’s under­stand­ing of the sacred prin­ci­ples of mar­ket­ing cer­tain­ly didn’t hurt.

If you want to learn how to mar­ket your prod­ucts or ser­vices like Gary Dahl, you’ve come to the right place. This is a guide to the basics of inter­net mar­ket­ing.

But don’t let the word “basics” fool you. These are not text­book descrip­tions of indus­try buzz­words and fan­cy lin­go.

These are the mar­ket­ing strate­gies being used right now by the best and bright­est mar­keters in the world.

If you’re ready to become a lead-gen­er­at­ing machine and join the ranks of the mar­ket­ing mas­ter­minds, read on.

Marketing 101: The Basics of Marketing

I’m about to cov­er a lot of mate­r­i­al. Book­mark this page so you can come back and learn more mar­ket­ing basics when­ev­er you’re ready.

In this guide, we cov­er:

  • How to Per­form Mar­ket Research and Dis­cov­er Your Tar­get Mar­ket
  • The 7 Major Inter­net Mar­ket­ing Strate­gies Being Used Today
  • Grab a cup of cof­fee, sit back, and get com­fort­able. Mar­ket­ing 101 is offi­cial­ly in ses­sion.

How to Perform Market Research and Discover Your Target Market

Mar­ket research is the back­bone of any good mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. You need to know who you’re mar­ket­ing to in order to choose and exe­cute an effec­tive strat­e­gy.

Mar­ket research will help you cre­ate a mar­ket­ing per­sona; a doc­u­ment out­lin­ing your ide­al tar­get mar­ket. This doc­u­ment will guide all of your deci­sions going for­ward.

Dis­claimer: As I said in the begin­ning, this is not text­book stuff. I’m not talk­ing about how to do mar­ket research for a busi­ness plan that you’ll hide away in a clos­et for the next five years. If that’s what you’re after, sor­ry. But, if you want real, action­able data on your tar­get audi­ence, read on.

Creating a Marketing Persona

Mar­ket­ing per­sonas come in many names – buy­er per­sonas, tar­get audi­ence per­sonas, tar­get mar­ket per­sonas – but they all refer to the same thing:

A doc­u­ment out­lin­ing the per­son or peo­ple you are most like­ly to sell to.

Here’s what one might look like:

Actionable Marketing Advice

While I could give you all the gener­ic things you want to know about a per­son (like their demo­graph­ics and psy­cho­graph­ics), I want this to be as easy and action­able as pos­si­ble.

So, what I rec­om­mend you do is use HubSpot’s Mar­ket­ing Per­sona tool to help you get all the essen­tial infor­ma­tion about your tar­get audi­ence togeth­er.

While you have that tool open, use the fol­low­ing mar­ket research strate­gies to help you find the answers to any ques­tions you don’t know.

Market Research Strategies

Sin­gle Grain wrote a com­plete guide to devel­op­ing and using buy­er per­sonas, which cov­ers the top­ic thor­ough­ly.

But, to get you start­ed, here are a few low-hang­ing fruit tac­tics:

  • Answer the ques­tion: “What pain points do my cus­tomers have that I can solve?” You’ll use your answer(s) to guide your mar­ket­ing. If you don’t know, just reach out to your cus­tomers and ask.
  • Spy on your com­peti­tors’ social pro­files. Who is fol­low­ing them? Who is engag­ing with them the most? What inter­ests do those peo­ple have?
  • Look to forums on your top­ic. Google “your top­ic + forums”. Or, use a tool like All Top to find them. Look for com­mon ques­tions and use those to find your tar­get market’s pain points and desires.
  • Install live chat on your site and cre­ate an auto­mat­ed mes­sage ask­ing your site vis­i­tors to fill out a sur­vey. (You can read more about this tac­tic in our post on how to gen­er­ate leads.)
    Once you have your mar­ket­ing per­sona filled out, use it to guide your deci­sions.

For exam­ple, does your tar­get audi­ence go to blogs to get their infor­ma­tion? Use con­tent mar­ket­ing to get their atten­tion, and build author­i­ty by guest blog­ging on the blogs they fre­quent.

Alter­na­tive­ly, do your tar­get cus­tomers use LinkedIn? Con­sid­er pur­chas­ing LinkedIn ads to get in front of them.

Ulti­mate­ly, you’re like­ly to need a com­bi­na­tion of the sev­en strate­gies you’re about to learn.

The 7 Major Marketing Strategies Being Used Today

There are new mar­ket­ing buzz­words being cre­at­ed all the time. Agile mar­ket­ing, close range mar­ket­ing, diver­si­ty mar­ket­ing (I can’t make this stuff up).

In the end, there are only sev­en core inter­net mar­ket­ing strate­gies that get con­sis­tent results (and aren’t incred­i­bly com­pli­cat­ed to under­stand).

These sev­en strate­gies are:

  1. Email mar­ket­ing
  2. Con­tent mar­ket­ing
  3. Influ­encer mar­ket­ing
  4. Search Engine Opti­miza­tion (SEO)
  5. Social media mar­ket­ing
  6. Growth hack­ing
  7. Paid adver­tis­ing

Obvi­ous­ly, I don’t expect you to read all of these tac­tics and imple­ment them overnight. Each of them can take months and even years to mas­ter in their own right.

What I do rec­om­mend is that you choose one strat­e­gy, get pret­ty darn good at it, then pick anoth­er to chip away at. That way, you give your­self enough time for your mar­ket­ing efforts to pay off and you com­mit the infor­ma­tion to long-term mem­o­ry.

Let’s resume our les­son in mar­ket­ing 101!

Email marketing

Email mar­ket­ing is one of the most effec­tive types of inter­net mar­ket­ing in the world.

Bold claim?

Yes. But I’m not the only one mak­ing it.

Sujan Patel, one of the world’s best dig­i­tal mar­keters, said that his email list is “one of [his] biggest sources of traf­fic.”

Sujan’s cousin, Neil Patel, was ranked one of the top 10 online mar­ket­ing experts by Forbes. He found that “Out of all the chan­nels I test­ed as a mar­keter, email con­tin­u­al­ly out­per­forms most of them.”

Oh, and Cam­paign Mon­i­tor found that you’re six times more like­ly to get a click-thru from an email cam­paign than you are from a tweet. How’s that for ROI?

Actionable Marketing Advice

How to Generate More Email Subscribers

There are tons of dif­fer­ent ways to get email sub­scribers. You can build a web-based tool, offer a dis­count on a person’s first order, or add a con­tent upgrade to your posts, to name a few.

Here are some take­aways:

  1. Add an exit-intent pop­up offer­ing a free gift that’s rel­e­vant to your read­ers’ needs. Maybe a PDF of the blog post they’re read­ing to save for lat­er.
  2. Ask for less infor­ma­tion on your opt-in forms – just an email if you can.
  3. Use tes­ti­mo­ni­als from big-name peo­ple. If you don’t have any, check out the influ­encer mar­ket­ing sec­tion of this guide.

What Kinds of Emails to Send

Build­ing a list means noth­ing if you nev­er send them any­thing. But, com­ing up with emails to send to your list can be hard­er than it sounds.

Here are my favorites:

  1. The “Wel­come” email. You should always send some­thing to a new sub­scriber wel­com­ing them to your awe­some newslet­ter fam­i­ly. It should set expec­ta­tions as to what they’re going to get from you and who you are.
  2. The “Help­ful Helen” email. Ask your list a ques­tion about their biggest prob­lems with the top­ic you write about. For exam­ple, we asked our email list what they want­ed to learn about. Turns out they want­ed to learn about mar­ket­ing.
  3. The “Post Teas­er” email. Don’t just send your list your lat­est blog post or your newest prod­uct or ser­vice… tease it! Give them just enough info to cap­ture their inter­est, then link to the post.

You now under­stand the quick and dirty basics of email mar­ket­ing. You should build email gen­er­a­tion into every oth­er mar­ket­ing effort you under­take. It’s that impor­tant.

If you’re just get­ting start­ed with email mar­ket­ing and don’t have an email mar­ket­ing soft­ware, we rec­om­mend MailChimp’s free plan. How­ev­er, you can also use Awe­ber, Cam­paign Mon­i­tor, or any of the oth­er dozens of email mar­ket­ing plat­forms.

Content Marketing

Almost any time you look some­thing up on Google, you’re see­ing the results of con­tent mar­ket­ing. Even this blog post is an exam­ple of con­tent mar­ket­ing.

Con­tent mar­ket­ing is the act of cre­at­ing con­tent that solves a need for your tar­get cus­tomer with the pur­pose of dri­ving traf­fic, leads, and sales.

Typ­i­cal­ly, this con­tent comes in the form of a blog. How­ev­er, it can also be a video series, pod­cast, info­graph­ic, or even a social media post.

And get this: Per dol­lar spent, con­tent mar­ket­ing gen­er­ates more than three times the num­ber of leads than paid search does.

Actionable Marketing Advice

How’s that for incen­tive? How­ev­er, a word of warn­ing…

Con­tent mar­ket­ing is a long-term strat­e­gy. While it can and will bring you traf­fic and leads, it can take 6–12 months to start see­ing a return on your invest­ment. As you can see in the chart, con­tent didn’t beat paid ads until year two.

It just takes time to cre­ate con­tent, rank that con­tent on search engines, gen­er­ate an email list, and get noticed.

How to Get Started Content Marketing

Since con­tent mar­ket­ing is such a wide-rang­ing sub­ject, I rec­om­mend you start with a plan. In our guide on how to start a suc­cess­ful blog, we cov­er set­ting up a con­tent plan and cre­at­ing your first blog post.

How to Promote Your Content

Con­tent mar­ket­ing ties in with almost all the oth­er mar­ket­ing meth­ods on this list. You can mar­ket your con­tent via your emails, by part­ner­ing with influ­encers to pro­mote it, or by shar­ing it on social media.

While it sounds daunt­ing, you don’t have to use them all. And many of them only take a few sec­onds to do. Every lit­tle bit counts.

Influencer Marketing

Actionable Marketing Advice

Influ­encers are sim­ply peo­ple who have an engaged fol­low­ing. They could be as esteemed as celebri­ties or as unknown as a small town blog writer.

What mat­ters isn’t so much the sheer num­ber of fol­low­ers they amass, but rather the engage­ment and trust of that audi­ence.

Peo­ple can buy fol­low­ers or blind­ly fol­low oth­ers to get more fol­low­ers. Often, these fol­low­ers are noth­ing more than an infla­tion of a vir­tu­al num­ber, and of the “influencer’s” ego. Just check them out before you reach out to them.

How to Start Influencer Marketing

In his ulti­mate guide to influ­encer mar­ket­ing, Jason Quey says there are five types of influ­encers:

  1. Celebri­ties
  2. Author­i­ties
  3. Jour­nal­ists
  4. Con­nec­tors
  5. Blog­gers

They range in reach and author­i­ty, but also in dif­fi­cul­ty to get in touch with. It’s far eas­i­er to part­ner with a blog­ger than a celebri­ty, and an author­i­ty might car­ry more weight than a con­nec­tor.

Here’s what you need to know: The most effec­tive mar­keters build their net­work ear­ly.

Even if you won’t ben­e­fit out of con­nect­ing with some­one for months or years, do it any­way. Focus on cre­at­ing a human con­nec­tion. A friend­ship, even.

Rela­tion­ships will make all of your mar­ket­ing efforts eas­i­er and more effec­tive.

Con­nect­ing is easy. Just take these steps:

  • Fol­low them on social media.
  • Post insight­ful com­ments on their blog and social media.
  • Share their con­tent often.
  • Offer assis­tance when you can.

It’s not dif­fi­cult, just a lit­tle time-con­sum­ing. The best advice I can give is to just be human. Show some com­pas­sion and peo­ple will rec­i­p­ro­cate.

One last tip: An influ­encer dis­cov­ery tool can help you find influ­encers in your niche, what­ev­er it might be. Plus, it’s free – can’t beat that!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the art of opti­miz­ing a web­site or blog to show up in search results.

Everyone’s ulti­mate goal is to “crack the code” of Google and show up first. How­ev­er, Google uses over 200 dif­fer­ent rank­ing fac­tors to deter­mine what shows up in those results.

While all those fac­tors can be over­whelm­ing, learn­ing the basics of SEO isn’t that hard. And it can work won­ders for you.

Let me explain…

The Basics of SEO

Essen­tial­ly, SEO is all about key­words. Your goal is to find key­words with decent search traf­fic (at least 300‑1000 per month) and low com­pe­ti­tion.

How do you find key­words?

I rec­om­mend you read this key­word research guide.

Once you find a suit­able key­word (let’s say “mar­ket­ing 101”, for instance), you need to do what’s called “on-page SEO“. This involves plac­ing the key­word:

  • In the title of the arti­cle.
  • In at least one head­ing.
  • In at least one image alt text.
  • In the meta descrip­tion.
  • In the URL.
  • Through­out the body of the arti­cle.

How­ev­er, you also want to avoid key­word stuff­ing; plac­ing the key­word on the page too many times. Google rec­og­nizes and penal­izes this. For most arti­cles, using the key­word 4–7 times is plen­ty, although there’s a lot of debate around that.

Once you’ve cre­at­ed a page around your tar­get key­word, the next goal is to pro­mote that arti­cle or page and build back­links to it.

And that’s it. Those are the basics of SEO.

You can learn a lot more about it, but you know enough to get start­ed.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has com­plete­ly changed the way busi­ness­es mar­ket and inter­act with their cus­tomers. Heck, it’s changed the way peo­ple inter­act with each oth­er. Every­where you go peo­ple are look­ing down at their phones.

But this arti­cle isn’t a judg­ment on the cur­rent state of human­i­ty. It’s about mar­ket­ing basics that work right now. And social media mar­ket­ing seems to be work­ing.

In fact, accord­ing to Ambas­sador, “71% of con­sumers who have had a good social media ser­vice expe­ri­ence with a brand are like­ly to rec­om­mend it to oth­ers.”

Let’s talk about how to lever­age these social pow­er­hous­es.

How to Get Started Social Media Marketing

Since there are dozens of social media net­works and hun­dreds of ways you can use them to mar­ket your busi­ness, I’ll just give you a resource to choose the best plat­forms and strate­gies for your busi­ness.

Social Media Exam­in­er, the world’s lead­ing social media mar­ket­ing blog, cre­at­ed a social media mar­ket­ing resource guide. They have guides on every­thing you could pos­si­bly want to know.

Growth Hacking

Growth hack­ing is like the online ver­sion of gueril­la mar­ket­ing. It’s an attempt to mar­ket your busi­ness as effec­tive­ly as pos­si­ble with­out spend­ing a lot of mon­ey.

Because the empha­sis is on afford­abil­i­ty, many star­tups focus on this type of mar­ket­ing. How­ev­er, long-stand­ing busi­ness­es can ben­e­fit from it as well.

Since this isn’t an exact sci­ence and more of a mixed bag of tricks, I’ll just talk about a few growth hack­ing strate­gies and point you in the right direc­tion.

Growth Hacking Strategies

Growth hack­ing often means doing things that don’t scale.

Doing things you can’t auto­mate or scale up quick­ly is one of the keys to ear­ly busi­ness mar­ket­ing. What do I mean by that?

Here are a few exam­ples:

  • Cold call or email tons of poten­tial clients or read­ers.
  • Reach out to the press for pub­lic­i­ty.
  • Write thank-you let­ters to all your best cus­tomers.
  • Reach out to cus­tomers for one on one inter­views to see where you can improve.

Paid Advertising

Actionable Marketing Advice

I can’t talk about mar­ket­ing basics with­out men­tion­ing the paid part of things.

While there are a lot of ways to pay for adver­tis­ing (everyone’s will­ing to take your mon­ey), the most com­mon form of paid adver­tis­ing is PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, ads.

For exam­ple, Google AdWords is PPC adver­tis­ing. Most social media net­works have a PPC adver­tis­ing option. Tools like Out­brain offer PPC solu­tions to show your con­tent on relat­ed web­sites.

They’re so pop­u­lar because, well, they work. Accord­ing to Google, busi­ness­es make an aver­age of $2 in income for every $1 they spend in AdWords. And Word­Stream found that rough­ly 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page.

How to Get Started with PPC Ads

The first major part of paid adver­tis­ing is fig­ur­ing out what you want to pro­mote.

Then, you have to fig­ure out where you want to pro­mote it. But, both of those should be fair­ly easy if you did your tar­get mar­ket research in the first sec­tion.


Mar­ket­ing is prob­a­bly the sin­gle most cru­cial skill for any per­son to learn. With an advanced knowl­edge of mar­ket­ing, you can sell near­ly any­thing and dri­ve traf­fic like a machine. And advanced knowl­edge starts with mas­ter­ing the basics.

And, if you’re ever feel­ing down, just remem­ber that if a guy can become a mil­lion­aire off pet rocks, you can suc­ceed with what­ev­er you’re sell­ing.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on com­plet­ing Mar­ket­ing 101: The Basics of Mar­ket­ing.