Marketing is a strange beast. Most people’s experience of marketing could simply be a leaflet they see or a social media post they have liked.
But marketing is a crucial part of any business and can be the difference between someone buying your product or service or going to the competition.
Because marketing is often misunderstood by boards and managers, we wanted to look at some of the most common (and incorrect) assumptions and explain why marketing is an asset.
Whether you’re a board member or manager looking to broaden your horizons, or a marketeer struggling to justify the value of your team – we hope this article will give you some food for thought.
Marketing is just posting on social media
One of the most classic assumptions about marketing is that it is about promoting your business. Well yes, it is, but also no. Like, really no.
Promotion is one element of marketing, but it is not all marketing is. It is not even the biggest or most important part of marketing.
Put simply, marketing is about identifying, anticipating, and satisfying your customers’ needs, wants, and desires.
Marketing is far more strategic business activity than most give it credit for.
Rather than just pushing a post out on Facebook, marketing goes deeper. It allows you to understand the mindset of your target audience. What are they suffering with? What pains do they have? What would make them fall in love with your product or service?
It is the difference between randomly posting a Facebook post out about your product, to posting a Facebook post that has been crafted to speak directly to your audience. Which do you think would be more valuable?
The correct marketing strategy will also help to highlight what platforms are the right tool for your brand. It can be very easy for businesses to get swept up with the latest trends and feel like they need to jump on the bandwagon. But do they?
I once worked with a client who had a large market share of their industry. Their main aim was to keep, and where possible, improve upon that. They initially thought the right tool was social media because, well, “everyone is on social media”.
The problem was that, once you boiled things down, their target audience was probably only around 30 to 50 people within the entire country. And customer personas indicated they were unlikely to be using Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. What benefit would social media bring them?
Instead, we focused on an account-based marketing strategy. Creating activities that would foster those relationships such as training for Account Managers and personalised promotional materials.
Taking the time to understand who the audience was and how to target them meant we were able to improve upsells and cross-sells to the entire customer base.
Data hinders creativity
I love using data to influence creative decisions. It’s easy to assume that data can hinder creative thoughts. But the truth is it can spur on some genius ideas; especially if you can identify patterns.
Now, many years ago I stumbled across a beautiful example of a real estate company in the USA using data to influence their creativity.
What they did went a bit like this:
The company was engaged in a content marketing strategy, posting blogs etc. They saw growth as a result, but it was steady.
They decided to crack open their Google Analytics and study their audience interests.
Now, if you have never looked at the interests’ section of Google Analytics, you’re totally missing out! It is a fantastic area that highlights common psychometric and behavioural characteristics your website visitors have.
When this company dug deeper, they discovered a common interest many of their website visitors had was… Video Games.
Now, it would be easy for anyone to dismiss that information. But not these guys. They decided to create a piece of engaging content centred around the type of house certain video game characters would live in.
The results generated not only increased website visitors but also increased the number of enquiries received.
Why? Because they were able to use their data to produce creative content that resonated with their target audience.
The marketing manager can do it
Marketing managers are expected to be experts in everything, particularly in businesses where budgets can be tight. The thing is, there’s an awful lot that a marketing manager needs to be an expert in; strategy, data analysis, copywriting, design, adverting, SEO, user experience, events management, photography, videography, branding, press release, social media… the list goes on.
And this isn’t even including things like managing budgets, managing team members, meetings, and getting rid of spam callers trying to trick you into signing up to all sorts of nonsense.
It is not possible for one person to do all this and be an expert in one area – heck! I know I’m not.
The trick is, if you want to get the best out of your marketing manager, let them focus on a strategy. From there, they can identify the best tactics to implement and, if necessary, outsource to creatives who are experts in their area and have the time to get the tasks done to the right standard.
Your audience cares about your product
You’ve spent a long time perfecting your product or service offering. You’re proud of your product and your business. The features of your product are exactly what people need.
You can do it cheaper than other people and you do it better.
Now, time for some honesty. It does not matter how good your product is, your audience do not care about it.
In fact, they don’t care if it’s cheaper or if it’s better.
Why am I saying this?
Because people aren’t motivated by a product. They aren’t motivated by features.
People are motivated by solving their problems.
For example, people don’t go shopping for a hammer, they go shopping for a hole-making device.
This topic always reminds me of something my Business Studies tutor asked us in college, “why do people by Quaker Oats when they’re just oats? Tesco’s sells the same thing for over £2 less!”
And this is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re cheaper or better than your competitors if you are not telling them what problem you are solving.
A window cleaner doesn’t clean your windows. No. They improve the appearance of your house. They improve the light quality coming in through your windows. They make looking out of your windows easier.
Focus on how your product solves your customer’s problems and then they’ll start to care about you and your business.
Sales and Marketing are the same thing
Many businesses, particularly smaller and medium businesses, like to have a sales and marketing department. This kind of makes sense. Both are aiming for the same thing, to get the customer to buy your products.
But the reality is both have very different roles to play.
Sales focus on the one-to-one transaction. Building relationships with customers and seeing a sale go through.
Meanwhile, marketing focuses more on the ‘why’. Why people buy from you, how you are going to position yourself, what are your competitors doing. Marketing aims to get people interested in your products, whereas sales teams aim to get a transaction.
Now, these two areas are clearly related, so it makes sense to treat them as one job, one department. However, even though they are closely related, they are vastly different disciplines.
I like to see it as marketing providing the added tools for salespeople to go out and do their job even better. In turn, because they build relationships with customers, salespeople become valuable feedback sources for marketing teams.
Clearly sales teams and marketing departments need to talk to one another, but to consider them as the same thing ignores their separate specialisms.
Marketing is an incredibly diverse discipline which covers many areas. And without the first-hand experience, it’s easy for these assumptions to begin to form.
By understanding and appreciating the benefits of a strong marketing strategy based on data and knowledge, your business can start to use it to its full potential.