By Mark Wesley, publisher, business gardener, and marketing strategist

At Metamorphicx, we believe that successful business development begins with a strong foundation, like a strong tree growing from a high-quality seed planted in rich, fertile soil. That’s why we’ve created the Tree of More Life model of business development, a way of looking at a business as a tree that bears fruit—both profits and a lifetime of personal satisfaction—because it grows from solid fundamentals.

In the Tree of More Life metaphor, the tree grows from a seed that represents your dream, and it is brought to life by quality soil, which represents your energy and core values. The tree’s root system is made up of the fundamental components of business development—a focused business model, and a clear description of your business’ value chain.

From these robust roots grows the tree’s trunk—your integrity-driven leadership—which supports everything above it. The tree’s trunk sprouts the tree’s stoutest limbs—the core functions of the business—which are guided by your leadership and supported by the fundamentals of the root system.

Finally, from these large limbs grow smaller branches—the systems and processes that make up the day-to-day operations of the business. It’s here that the routine work gets done, but it’s all informed and directed by the other parts of the tree that support it.


The Function of Branches: Marketing

To get an idea of how this part of the tree works, let’s consider the smaller branches that grow from one of the larger limbs: the marketing function. Marketing is one of the most important functions of your business; it’s the process of finding a market for your product and then communicating the value of your product to potential customers in that market.

That sounds simple, but a sound marketing plan is made up of several distinct components, and that’s why the marketing limb needs to branch into more specialized functions.


Scouting the Terrain: Market Research

Every marketing plan begins with market research. Before you can understand how to market your product, you have to understand who you’re marketing to, and you have to understand the challenges you’ll face within the market.

Market research starts with identifying, with great specificity, the market conditions for your product. How big is the market, and is it growing or contracting? What is buyer behavior like in the market? What are recent trends among products in the market? Who are your competitors, and how does their product and pricing differ from yours?

After you’ve painted yourself a broad picture of the market, move into greater detail by developing specific profiles of your target customers, a process called customer segmentation. Build one or more profiles of your ideal customers, identifying relevant traits—such as age, gender, geographic location, or economic circumstance—that will influence how the customers will perceive you and your product.

Only when you have a very clear perception of both the market conditions and your target customers can you call into play the other branches of the marketing limb.


Getting It Done: Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy is your plan for actually getting your product in front of the customers you’ve identified through your marketing research. Your examination of the market and your customer profiles will suggest to you the best methods and marketing channels with which to reach your customers.

Is traditional advertising or digital marketing the best way to go? Are your customers more effectively reached through direct mail or social media? Do they respond more readily to face-to-face sales calls? Would it be more effective for you to reach out to them, or to encourage them to come to you via a digital content strategy?

The possibilities are many and varied, but your market research will help you to choose the best channels for your specific target market and to avoid straying down a path that won’t be productive for your business.


Following Up and Adjusting: Marketing Analysis

Marketing strategy doesn’t remain static. To function effectively, it must evolve and react to changes in the market and to your successes and failures as you market your product. To allow for this adjustment, your marketing team must consistently monitor the performance of the marketing strategy and be aware of what works and what doesn’t.

Marketing analysis is especially effective in the digital realm, where analytical tools and metrics make it easy to see how customers respond to your marketing efforts. You can keep track of traffic through your digital marketing channels, and you can easily spot which channels have been more or less productive than others. With data in hand, you can confidently decide to shift your resources from the channels that aren’t producing sales and into the channels that are most effective.


It All Started with a Seed

The most important thing to notice is that even out here at the smallest branches, every aspect of your business is connected through an unbroken chain back to the seed that started the whole process.

Your initial dream, your core values, your business vision, your steadfast leadership, your brand building—all of it is channeled throughout your business so that every business decision you make is true to the vision and passion that drove you to start a business in the first place.

When the business begins to bear fruit in the form of profits, opportunities, and freedom, that fruit will be especially sweet because it’s not just money. It’s your dream. It’s More Life.

Mark Wesley owns metamorphicx and me+mi publishing. He has spent the last 25 years developing products and providing services for businesses across the United States. As an EMyth-certified business coach and Duct Tape marketing consultant, Wesley helps clients improve their leadership, branding, finance, management, marketing, sales, and customer engagement skills. He is a current member of the IBPA board of directors.