I was reflecting recently (you do that a lot when you have kids) about my journey into the marketing world, especially the two years (1981-1983) I spent at Pace University getting my MBA in Marketing Management. Back then, marketing was the buzz word and everyone in sales told the world they were in "marketing". It was the "in" career to pursue even though many business owners didn't fully understand what it was all about -- marketing was academic but sales...now we're talking real world. Fast forward to 2013 and funny how things changed. Everything is marketing, especially all those disciplines that are not; printers are now marketers, graphic designers are marketers and web designers and social media gurus are leading marketers.
Pity us real marketers, we're misunderstood again. So, let's try to demystify what marketing is all about:
In its raw form, marketing is and always was about "identifying customer needs and satisfying them". We've come a long way from that simple definition: marketing is an ongoing process. Note that I used the word "process". Yes, we use fancy words like strategy, segmentation, value proposition, KPIs and many more but they are all part of a deliberate and highly focused thought process. Marketing is your engine with multiple cylinders that work in-sync. Sales, is the fuel that moves the company forward.
When your marketing road map (what we call The Marketing Plan) is locked-in, we begin to utilize a variety of tools in order to execute strategies that were developed as part of The Plan: brand strategy, competitive strategy, advertising strategy, PR strategy and so forth.
Then we carefully select appropriate "tools" and deploy tactics that will help us meet our Marketing & Sales Goals. Those tools are part of "The Marketing Mix" and can include print advertising, web advertising, social media, email campaign, direct mail, trade shows and so forth.
Beyond this overly simplified explanation is a more serious reality: Whether you actually have a marketing plan as well as how well you execute and measure results, will without a doubt determine your future. Companies that still think sales is marketing and SEO is the winning lotto ticket, will be gone. Our business world has become quite complex and the seemingly infinite number of tools at our disposal require careful thought, planning and creative execution. Oh, yes, that's marketing.
- If you don't have a Marketing Plan, get on it today! It's not complicated but you should be guided by a pro and have patience while it takes shape.
- Beware of marketing over-promises by non-marketing professionals. Learn to distinguish between who is doing the work (web design) and their credentials in marketing. Ask yourself "How's is the web design fit into my overall marketing strategy"? "What messaging are we using"? "Are we reaching our target audience"?
- Still not sure? Look up job descriptions for VP Marketing, Marketing Manager, Product Marketing Manager, Marketing Analyst and you'll discover what your business is missing. You don't have to hire all of them, but what they do is essential to your future growth and profits.