MKTG 101: The Absolute Essentials of Marketing in 2024

March 13, 2024 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Cartoon representation of going to school and learning about marketing

View and download the audio version of this article here.

Marketing can hold immense power.

That explains why one survey found that 38.4% of companies report that marketing is responsible for leading revenue growth. And why over 75% of marketers are reporting on how their marketing initiatives impact revenue.

The ability to persuade and guide people, to show them what products or services could help solve their pain points or help meet specific needs or desires, is something that no business should take for granted.

In fact, every person in a business or organization can benefit from a basic understanding of marketing and its principles. Because marketing speaks to virtually every corner of the business. It’s about getting people to take advantage of your product or service—and what’s the point of your business existing if no one uses what you offer?

Here we’ll lay down the essential MKTG 101 basics for 2024 so that you can be better equipped to understand and contribute to the marketing efforts of your own business in the modern business world.

MKTG 101 Definitions

To understand the basics of marketing, let’s first go over some key definitions for terms you’re likely to run into.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

We primarily think of marketing in terms of the “communicating” aspect, but the concept is broader than just communications. It involves how you present your business and how you influence people to engage with you.

What Is ROI?

ROI stands for “return on investment” and describes the revenue you generate from a marketing initiative in relation to the costs involved. This is often the key metric in terms of measuring the success of a marketing initiative.

In some cases, ROI is very straightforward—for example, you may spend $1,000 on an ad campaign and you may get $3,000 in revenue as a result, so you have a net positive ROI. If you spend $1,000 on an ad campaign and only get $500 in revenue as a result, that would be a net negative ROI and would not generally be considered successful. But in each of these cases the ROI was straightforward and easy to evaluate.

However, in some cases ROI is difficult to measure, particularly for longer-term marketing strategies or strategies with more intangible goals (such as the goal to raise brand awareness). So ROI is not necessarily always the key metric to measure, but it is in most cases the most important metric overall.

What Is a KPI?

KPI stands for “key performance indicator” and refers to a designated metric that is used to track the performance of a marketing campaign or initiative. Usually specific marketing campaigns will have specific KPIs that you’ll look at in order to determine the success or failure of the campaign.

Some common KPIs for marketing campaigns include website traffic, leads generated, and sales. The metric(s) that you choose as your KPI(s) will vary depending on the specifics and goals of each campaign.

What Is a CTA?

CTA stands for “call to action” and refers to the part of the marketing initiative that tells your audience what to do next. This is the next step you want your audience to take after consuming your marketing content.

The CTA can be anything from “click here” to “try for free” to “buy now.” Nearly all marketing initiatives will have a CTA.

What Is Targeting?

Targeting is the process of identifying and selecting the specific people or groups that you want to reach with your marketing messages. Targeting can be based on a variety of factors, such as demographics, interests, and behaviors.

Targeting is essential in marketing because your initiatives will not be successful if they’re not being seen by relevant audiences. Targeting helps you have more relevant and effective messaging.

What Is a Marketing Funnel (or What Are Stages of Awareness)?

A marketing funnel, or stages of awareness, is a way to explain and picture the journey your audience goes through as you market to them.

The idea is that audiences usually start on the wide part of the “funnel” in a “least aware” status (in which they know little to nothing about your solution). This part of the funnel involves the most people, but as you market to them, some drop out while others move down the funnel into stages of greater awareness. Finally, when someone reaches the bottom of your “funnel,” they (ideally) purchase your product or service.

Depending on the audience’s location in the funnel and stage of awareness, you will have different kinds of messaging and different kinds of CTAs. For example, you wouldn’t treat someone at the top of the funnel as if they’re ready to make a purchase and you probably wouldn’t want to tell them to “buy now.” You would first need to nurture them a bit more through the funnel until they’re aware enough to be ready to make the final jump.

Marketing 101 Definitions

Basic Types of Marketing

Although the different types of marketing you could employ could be almost limitless, there are a few basic types of marketing we’ll consider.

These can be divided into two main categories: digital and traditional.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is more of a modern phenomenon since it involves using digital channels to promote or market products or services to consumers and businesses. Here are some of the channels that are used…

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads: Running ads on search engines and other websites where users are likely to be interested in your product or service—with this method, you’ll pay a fee to the platform host for each click your ad receives.
  • Email Marketing: Sending promotional emails to a list of subscribers.
  • SMS Marketing: Sending promotional text messages to a list of subscribers.
  • Content Marketing: Creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain an audience. This can include content such as blog articles, podcasts, and white papers.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is the use of offline channels to promote or market products or services to consumers and businesses. It includes a wide range of tactics, such as:

  • Direct Mail Advertising: Sending promotional materials to potential customers through the mail.
  • Billboards: Placing large outdoor advertisements in high-traffic areas.
  • Television Advertising: Running commercials on television.
  • Radio Advertising: Running commercials on radio stations.

Basic Elements of a Marketing Initiative

So what exactly are the basic elements of a marketing initiative?

Here is what a marketing initiative typically consists of…

A Hook

The hook is the first thing that audiences see or hear. Its purpose is to be attention-grabbing enough to get people to consume the rest of the content.

An Offer

The offer is the main value proposition that you are offering to potential customers. It should be something that they find valuable and irresistible.

In other words, what is the audience getting by following through with your marketing message?


As mentioned above, the CTA, or call to action, is the specific action that you want your audience to do next. It should be clear and easy to follow.


Note that not every marketing initiative will follow this formula. Content marketing and SEO, for example, are different animals and have their own set of rules. But for advertising-style marketing initiatives, you’ll usually find at least these 3 elements present to some extent.

MKTG 101 on How to Get Started with a Marketing Initiative

Now that you’ve got the foundation of what marketing is and the different elements involved, here’s how you actually get started with a marketing initiative.

1. Determine Your Goal

Before you start any marketing initiative, you need to determine what you want to achieve. What is your goal? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Once you know your goal, you can start to plan your marketing strategy.

2. Determine a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

In order to set up your marketing initiative for success, you’ll want to determine ahead of time what metric you’re trying to improve. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, your KPI might be the number of impressions your ad receives. If your goal is to generate leads, your KPI might be the number of leads you generate. And if your goal is to drive sales, your KPI might be the number of sales you make.

Determining this will help shape the formation of your marketing initiative, and will help you evaluate after the fact.

3. Determine What Channel(s) Will Be Most Likely to Achieve Your Goal

Different marketing channels may be useful for different purposes, different audiences, and different situations.

For example, if you have little to no social media presence, it’s not a good idea to emphasize organic social media posts as a major channel for your situation. On the other hand, everyone texts and emails, so those channels can be appropriate in a lot of circumstances.

Think about who your audience is and what channel(s) you’d think they would best respond to.

4. Create Copy and Assets

Once you’ve made all your plans, you or someone on your team can create the copy and creative assets that will be used for the initiative. This might just be copy, or it could include images or videos.

The copy and assets should help move your marketing initiative toward whatever goal and KPI you designated.

5. Launch Initiative

After all the assets have been written or created, you’re ready to launch the initiative—whether that means publishing the ad, sending the email or SMS, submitting the social media post, or a combination of any or all of these and more.

6. Evaluate Results

The last thing you’ll need to do is evaluate the results of your campaign so that you can determine whether or not your campaign was a success and what kinds of changes you should make in the future.

Evaluate based on the effectiveness the campaign had toward reaching your designated goal according to your designated KPIs.

How to get started with a marketing initiative

Get a Free 14-Day Trial with Mobile Text Alerts

set password visible

How to Evaluate Your Marketing Initiatives

You need to be able to understand the different types of metrics you can use to evaluate your marketing campaigns.

Here are a few common ones…

  • Open Rate: The percentage of people that opened a message
  • Click Rate: The percentage of people that clicked on a link
  • Click-to-Open Rate: The percentage of people that clicked on a link compared to the number that opened the message
  • Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of people that unsubscribed from your marketing initiatives
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of people who followed you desired course of action
  • ROI: The profitability (or lack thereof) of your marketing initiative—found by taking the total revenue generated by the marketing initiative and dividing it by the cost

Best Practices for Creating the Most Effective Marketing Initiatives

Now that you know the basics of MKTG 101, here are a few best practices to keep in mind to help you create the most effective marketing initiatives.

1. Consider Stage of Awareness

As mentioned previously, your audience’s stage of awareness will make a difference in regards to how you present your messaging. Are they aware of your product or service? Are they considering it? Are they ready to buy?

Once you know the stage of awareness of your target audience, you can tailor your marketing initiative accordingly. For example, if your target audience is not aware of your product or service, you could focus on educational content and brand awareness. If your target audience is considering your product or service vs. other services, you will need to focus on comparison content and social proof. If your target audience is ready to buy, you will need to focus on sales content and urgency.

2. Consider Audience Pain Points and Ultimate Desires

What does your audience really need or want? What challenges are they facing?

Understanding your audience’s pain points and ultimate desires will help you create messages that really resonate with your audience and speak to what they’re looking for.

3. Consider Audience Voice

You want to make sure to speak your audience’s language and talk to them in a way that they can relate to.

Does your audience prefer informal, conversational communication? Or are they more formal and technical?

You can analyze your audience’s voice and try to match it in your communication with them to help connect with them.

4. Consider Human Psychology

Understanding certain aspects of basic human psychology will help you create more effective messages. For example…

  • Focus on Audience: Your marketing language should be focused on your audience. It’s very tempting to talk all about yourself and your business but you should keep the emphasis on the audience and what they want, need, and feel, as well as the benefits they receive.
  • Minimize Work: Your content will be better received if it doesn’t sound like it’s going to create extra work for your audience. People want solutions that will make their lives simpler, not harder, so avoid including language that implies work.
  • Minimize Friction: Even interested people may give up on your product or service if they run into a lot of friction along the way. Friction can come in many forms, such as complicated forms, hidden fees, difficult-to-navigate websites, and poor customer service. Remove as many sources of friction as is feasible.
  • Employ Scarcity: People don’t like to miss out on opportunities. That’s why scarcity, presenting something as only available on a limited basis, is a tried-and-true strategy that works for many marketing initiatives. (A word of warning, however—don’t overuse scarcity to the extent that it loses its effect.)
How to Get Started with a Marketing Initiative

MKTG 101 on Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

In addition to the best practices mentioned above, here are some rookie mistakes you should avoid when it comes to marketing.

  • Indiscriminate Messaging: Sending the same message to everyone is a waste of time and resources. Instead, segment your audience so that you can send more targeted and relevant messages.
  • “Marketing” Speak: When marketing, you don’t want to sound like a marketer. You want to sound like someone who connects with your target audience, so avoid marketing cliches as much as possible and try to step into your audience’s voice.
  • Assuming Your Audience Thinks Like You: You can’t assume that what appeals to you or resonates with you will also resonate with your audience. Your audience is unique, and you need to discover what best resonates with them—which may be totally different from your preferences.
  • Cheapening Your Product or Service: Don’t assume that offering discounts or having the lowest prices is always a good thing. To be sure, discounts can be a useful marketing tactic, and many businesses thrive through competing on pricing, but most companies don’t want to be known as the “cheap” option. And if you are always competing for the lowest price and constantly offering discounts, that’s the perception your audience may come away with.

The Power of Marketing

Marketing holds great power and can make or break your business.

Even if you’re not a marketer, the more familiar you can be with marketing concepts, the more of an asset you can be to your business.

Have you tried SMS marketing for your business? Try out an SMS platform for free here.

See Also

General Marketing

SMS Marketing

Get a Free 14-Day Trial Account Today

Start sending mass text messages to your entire list today!