Marketing by definition is… well, complicated. Just take a look at this definition of the term by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Or this one from the Chartered Institute of Marketing: “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
If you made it through those long-winded definitions, kudos to you. And rest assured, much more lively information lies ahead. I didn’t put those there to bore you (although that may be an unintended side effect) but rather to show you just how vague and hard to pin down marketing can come across.
I mean, these definitions encompass a lot of processes and don’t delve into any specifics. Judging by these perspectives it’s no wonder many business owners, founders, and CEO are having a hard time discerning what they are or are not doing to market their business. But the truth is, to have a successful marketing strategy you don’t need to know the most technical definition of marketing
Let’s take a brief look at the past to better understand the present state of marketing. Prior to the massive expansion of direct sales, many companies relied heavily on “advertising” to drive the market’s understanding of their products. Advertising is a component of marketing, but it is not the full picture. As such, too often marketing is looked at as the “Arts & Crafts” division of the company. This makes marketing one of the most misunderstood parts of a business today. And often with misunderstanding comes misconceptions and general confusion on best practices.
The truth is if you ask any marketer with any experience how marketing can benefit your company and they do not respond with, “it depends,” odds are you are getting sold something.
Here are common lies floating around the marketing world today and the HMG truth serum below them.
Lie 1 – Marketing is easy.
Truth 1 – IT DEPENDS – Marketing is flexible and, when executed well, it can appear simple leading those on the receiving end of the campaign to assume it was easy to create. The reason “it depends” is the answer is because so much of marketing is based on the target audience and strategy. If you have a highly defined product or service, and a highly defined audience marketing can be as easy as these four statements:
- Have something good to say
- Say it well
- Say it often
- Say it to the right people (or in the right channels)
Truth is, GREAT marketing looks effortless, but it requires mastering your message, audience, and delivery which is by no means easy. A good marketer will make your message consistent; a great marketer will make your message resonate. A good salesman will tell everyone about your product; a great salesman coupled with a great marketer will convert their ideal client into your customers. Great marketing makes sales easier. Great marketing isn’t easy. In fact, it’s rife with challenges and roadblocks. Great marketing makes marketing look easy, but don’t be fooled. Somewhere there is a team of exceptional storytellers, written and visual communicators, working hard to communicate a BIG idea effortlessly.
Lie 2 – That worked really well for them, so it will for me as well.
Truth 2 – It seems that almost everyday, a new “next big thing” is popping up in the world of marketing and the list of potential ways to promote your product and brand is expanding faster than you can keep up. Webinars, e-books, podcasts, influencer partnerships, shall I go on? Witnessing the buzz generated by a competitor’s successful social media campaign or reading an article about the latest and greatest marketing tactics can lead you to feel like your efforts are insufficient.
Dispel that overwhelmed feeling and get your marketing on course by taking a lesson from the racetrack. Allow me to explain with this passage courtesy of the Dallas Equestrian Center,
“Horses sometimes need to be made to focus and blinders keep the horse’s eye focused on what is ahead, rather than what is at the side or behind. That is why race horses are often given blinders – for the purpose of keeping them focused when racing round a racecourse.”
It’s no secret that the world of marketing is fast paced and unpredictable- much like a race. And reaching your goals is increasingly difficult if you are constantly looking at other people and not focusing on your own path. This is not to say completely isolate yourself. Staying informed and educated is an important aspect of a successful strategy. But look at marketing through the lens of your business and your customer. Don’t worry about another company implementing x, y, and z if your customers are more interested in a, b, and c. Equip yourself with the ability to separate what’s trendy from what’s actually applicable to your customers and business. This will save you a lot of headaches.
Lie 3 – My marketing is fine. It’s the sales department that’s the problem.
Truth 3 – SALES v MARKETING – Age old rivalry. Sales: “give us more leads so we can close deals. We have a quota to hit.” Marketing: “You haven’t even called the leads we gave you.” Sales: “They’re all crap. They don’t even pick up the phone. Why can you just get me more people who want to buy?” Marketing, “…”
Sound familiar? This struggle is real for many organizations that wrestle with aligning sales and marketing teams. Marketers, listen up. The sales team is the lifeblood of your company. They hustle, work hard, and will go to the end of the earth selling you, if they believe in you. Want to align with sales, LISTEN TO THEM.
Listening doesn’t mean becoming an order taker and doing only things they want, but they are your primary customer. They consume everything you create, and I’m willing to bet you don’t tell them half the things you are creating or how to use them. Sales isn’t complicated, they have bold personalities and an insatiable appetite.
Truth here is marketing needs to stop taking itself so seriously. Relax, have fun, and realize the sales team is your first customer. Sales success is marketing’s success. When they see you as an ally the leads you generate, and programs you create will get the attention you expect.
Lie 4 – Marketing is a long play. I need results, like yesterday.
Truth 4 – Like any well thought out strategy, your marketing plan should contain both long and short term components. There are a number of useful tactics that yield results quickly. Here are some examples to consider:
Short Term Marketing Tactics
- Host a social media giveaway
- Host or participate in a local event
- Offer a limited time promotional discount
- Use PPC advertisements to drive targeted leads to your site
Each of these can encourage sales and boost brand awareness in a short time frame. These “quick-wins” are important because they build a platform for your long-term goals to be achieved. Short term goals provide the temporary boost in revenue, traffic, and awareness that your brand needs to keep pushing forward. But the company vision should not be so shortsighted that long-term planning is ignored.
Long Term Marketing Tactics
- SEO- Optimize your website to increase ranking and traffic to your page. More views overtime means more potential customers.
- Create valuable content. This can include e-books, blogs, informative infographics and more content that can be shared easily. This helps to build trust and overall brand reputation.
- Utilize social media. Stay at the forefront of people’s minds by remaining active on your company’s social platforms.
- Grow your email list. Building a reliable list takes time but the leads it can generate make this long term strategy well worth it.
What sets a mid-level employee apart from a member of the C-Suite? The ability to think and strategize for success far into the future. Stever Robbins is a Harvard alum who trains CEOs and business leaders to reach their goals. He shared, “Executives can’t afford to focus narrowly—they are responsible for the overall performance of the organization. They think vertically, horizontally, and through time.”
If you are in a leadership position at your company (or hope to be), this forward thinking mindset is crucial. TLDR; marketing does not only include long term strategies and yes you can drive results quickly in a number of ways. But remember to keep the long term strategy in mind for the future health of your company.