There are so many forms of marketing, one is bound to be perfect for your company, says Paul Owens

Marketing is one of those things that everyone knows they should have but many people aren't exactly sure what it is. The insurance sector is no different from many other industries companies hear that marketing can give them a competitive edge but don't know where to start, or they don't truly understand what all the different options are. Marketing is essentially the promotion of a company's services or products. There are many different elements to the "marketing mix", including identity, advertising, direct mail, online and PR. They can all be used individually or in conjunction with each other to deliver a more effective result.

Identify your audienceBut with all these elements and more to choose from, how do you know which marketing tools are right for you? The first step is to clearly identify your target audience - whether it's small businesses, large corporates or a particular industry sector. Research their habits. The more you know about them the better you can target your marketing. Budget is another key consideration. What type of marketing will deliver the best return for your money? Also, what do you want to achieve? How you will measure your campaigns' success - in terms of lead generation or actual sales, for example? Crucially, you need to ensure that all elements of your marketing strategy are integrated, conveying the same brand messages, to maximise their effect.Even the smallest companies should give their brand some serious consideration. Conduct a brand review - look at all the material you distribute to the industry and the public. Does it all look like it has come from the same company? Is your proposition clear? If so, how can these messages and values be transferred to other areas of your business? Everything is part of your brand, from the way you talk about yourselves to clients to how your staff answer the phone.Marketing can be as complex or straightforward as you want it to be. Over the next few months, we will be bringing you more information on the marketing mix, to help you determine which elements could work well for your business and, ultimately contribute to your success. It

  • Paul Owens is creative director at communications agency Box