WHAT’S THE POINT OF MARKETING?
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A NEW DEFINITION
I believe the marketing profession in the last 20 years has made marketing more complicated than it needs to be.
If I asked ten of you to define marketing, you would probably come up with ten different answers. Actually, you do, every time I conduct a seminar or workshop I ask everyone to give me their definitions and no two are ever the same.
If you all can’t agree on a simple definition, how can we all effectively set strategic objectives and implement measurable tactical execution? Or, even agree on why we need to market in the first place.
Successful organizations, large and small, have inculcated a branding message into everything they do. Everybody inside and out knows exactly what the organization does, stands for and is well thought of. Think about Apple, Hyatt Hotels, Nike, The Gap or George Forman’s Grills. What about that local restaurant you keep going back to and recommend to others. The dentist who makes you so comfortable. Or, the accountant that you trust and wouldn’t imagine ever leaving. All these firms and practices market but in highly differentiated ways, what is the commonality?
I suggest the beginning of the solution is to widen our view of marketing as merely advertising, promotion or collateral. It’s not any one thing you do … marketing is much, much more.
“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
~ David Packard, Hewlett-Packard
EVERYTHING YOU DO …
Very simply, marketing is everything you do. Because everything you do sends a message. Every action has a communication dimension and can influence another.
For example, the telephone is one of the most powerful marketing instruments, if properly used. The number of rings before answering sends a message. The demeanor of the receptionist’s voice communicates something. Your voicemail greeting may need some work. How are you leaving messages for others? What do your prospects or clients hear when they are on hold?
Also, marketing is everything you don’t do. Because everything you don’t do also sends a message. Every inaction has a communication dimension and can influence someone, usually for the worse. For example, a littered disorganized workplace sends a message. Grammatical mistakes in an email or spelling mistakes in your marketing convey a lack of care or attention to detail. What about that telephone call we didn’t return promptly?
So if marketing is everything we do and don’t do, what is our desired outcome?
FIRST, OFTEN & WELL
The strategic objective of marketing is also very simple. The whole point of your marketing is to have your clients, prospects, suspects, referral sources and other stakeholders think of you first, often and well. If they think of you first, often and well, then your clients are always giving you more business. You have first crack at your prospects’ business and you are getting a stream of referrals.
So why isn’t this happening consistently?
1. They have not heard about you. This is often due to a lack of marketing or your marketing is ineffective. It is drowned out by the 20,000 other marketing messages the average person receives daily.
2. They have not heard about your value-added claims. They may have heard about you, but don’t know or understand what you do. How many people, even in your own circle of neighbors, friends, church or gym truly know what you do? This is a great litmus test. Today ask five people you know and see how accurately it reflects “your marketing.” If you are not marketing effectively to those closest to you, do you think you are any better to those who do not know you well?
3. They don’t believe you. Sometime the problem is not a quantitative or qualitative issue of marketing. They simply do not believe you. You have not backed up your claims or made your messaging sufficiently relevant to the audience.
One simple way to evaluate your key messages is to imagine a thought balloon above your client’s or prospect’s head. Whenever you say anything, or give them a piece of marketing collateral, see the balloon. They are either thinking “So what?” In other words, how is this relevant to me? Or, “Prove it!” Back up that statement with facts, figures or other evidence.
4. They don’t remember you. Often, the failure in marketing is to convey a message that is sufficiently differentiated, relevant, or action-oriented. A compelling, unique communication that moves heart, mind and soul will cut through the clutter of insipid rubbish that the many colleagues in the industry generate.
So in reality you are already marketing, the key question is what is the message you are sending in all you do, and don’t do?
It has been my experience for over 25 years that all too many organizations are wasting too much money, time and other resources into marketing that does not yield the return they should be getting.
An intelligent comprehensive marketing strategy will make ALL you do in marketing more effective. Otherwise, it is like an orchestra without the musical score, the movie without the script, the chef without a recipe, or the battle without the plan.
In conclusion, I suggest you cease to view marketing as any singular activity but the sum total of all your activities in having your clients, prospects and others think of you first, often and well.