If you think that marketing is just about spreading your message, you need to think again, writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom. Marketing should actually be at the epicentre of your business, whether you realise it or not.
For nearly 10 years, once or sometimes twice a month I ran 3-day, 30-hour workshops opening people’s eyes to an array of low-risk/high-return marketing strategies. I discovered that the definition of marketing varied enormously between people. So the workshop always started with some definitions of marketing, which I am pleased to share with you now.
To a lot of people, marketing is about running an ad tomorrow so you can have sales the next day. If it were that simple you’d be a multi-millionaire and there would be nothing more to learn. But there’s so much more to it than that.
A good general definition of marketing, quite simply, is “The process of educating people to the advantages and benefits you offer them and compelling them to choose your products or services over those of your competitors.”
Jefferey Gittomer, a renowned sales guru, defines marketing as “getting your telephone to ring with qualified buyers.”
Kenrick Cleveland, one of the world’s top authorities on influence and persuasion, defines marketing as “Selling to people you’re not in front of.” I very much agree with this definition.
In 1973 Peter Drucker suggested that the aim of marketing was “To make selling superfluous… to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Julian Richer, one of Britain’s most inspiring businessmen, defines marketing from a retail perspective, as you’d expect. He says it is “Every aspect of telling people about your business: advertising, the way you present your premises, the design of your stationery, and the way you look after your customers — because they tell other people, and customer service is the most effective form of marketing there is.”
John McKitterick of General Electric said that: “The principal task of marketing … is not so much to be skillful in making the customer do what suits the interest of the business, as to be skillful in conceiving and then making the business do what suits the interests of the customer.” And that is so, so true.
All six of those definitions are good.
That could all be said another way: “If you could see the world through John Smith’s eyes you can sell to John Smith what John Smith buys.”
In other words if you want prospects or clients to beat a path to your door you should look at everything from their perspective.
Going deeper …
Moving on from those excellent definitions, which consider marketing mainly from a ‘spreading your message’ perspective, a deeper definition of marketing is “The profitable identification, attraction, getting and keeping of good customers.”
If you think about it, this involves almost every function in your business. Identifying and attracting customers (including members, patients, students or parishioners) is traditionally considered to be the role of marketing. Getting customers is usually considered to be the role of sales. Both of these are pre-sale functions. And then there is keeping customers, which is normally considered to be a post-sale function.
Identifying customers includes such things as: deciding who you are and what you do; What EXACTLY your product or service is designed to achieve for your customer; what specific problems or needs you can solve or satisfy; choosing your best market segments, i.e. clearly defining the exact customers who can most benefit from what you do better than anyone else; identifying your high probability customers … and more. This requires rigorous market research and analysis.
Attracting customers includes all manner of things from how you differentiate your product, service or business; to the way you use advertising and social media; what’s on your website and how it is presented; how you package your products and services; whether your premises inspire confidence; where you concentrate your marketing efforts … and what you say in your marketing messages.
Getting customers includes such things as your distribution; your pricing; your product quality; the helpfulness of your staff; the way you set expectations; and your ability to convert your prospects into first time customers, i.e. selling.
Keeping customers includes such post-sale activities as delivery; fulfilment; the way you meet or exceed your customers’ expectations; billing; money collection; customer service; building relationships with your customers; maintaining constant communication; paying attention to the critical non-essentials; and delivering extraordinary value.
Getting and keeping customers are the only sustaining force in any business. Every single job in your business directly or indirectly relates to getting and keeping customers. That includes your receptionists, people who chase payment, delivery drivers, shop floor workers and admin staff right the way through to the managers and directors of your company and any associates or third parties working on your behalf to whom you might outsource certain functions. Every single role in your business falls within the deeper marketing definition.
Marketing therefore goes far beyond targeting, advertising, pricing, and promoting your product and service. It is also responsible for creating the products and services that satisfy the needs of your marketplace; quality control; accounts recievable; looking after your customers; and converting first time buyers into loyal clients. Whether you previously realised it or not, marketing is therefore at the epicentre of your business.
It follows that everyone in your business must have a customer-first attitude. They should be hired because they have that attitude. You should part company with them if they don’t. Every one of them should develop their customer awareness by meeting and/or interacting with customers as part of what they do. If the leaders in your business aren’t spending 40-60 percent of their time reading about, thinking about, or interacting with your customers they’re doing the equivalent of sailing a ship at night without a compass, chart or lights.
Every single person in your business should be aware how their role relates to getting and keeping customers. Every one of them must do something every day to get and keep customers. They must be directed and trained to appreciate why their jobs are important to getting and keeping customers, and know how to do those things well.
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