Marketing is a link that connects people who want something to companies that sell it. If a company does a good job of marketing their product, they shouldn’t need anyone to sell it.
Or, in the words of Peter Drucker:
“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous by understanding the customer so well the product or service fits him or her and sells itself.”
It’s the process of establishing who wants your product, how to let them know it exists, how much they are willing to pay for it, and how they can get their hands on it. It’s also maintaining a relationship with your customers so that they’ll buy from you again.
Is it advertising? Is it sales?
Yes, but it’s much more than that. It is about deep psychological understanding of customer needs. Just ask Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison. Selling satisfies the needs of the seller, whereas marketing satisfies the needs of the buyer. The seller thinks about cash; the marketer is all about the who, why, and how.
“Every innovation in the history of the world combined an uncanny understanding of human needs and the innovative vision to deliver it.” – Michael Brenner
If business is composed of marketing and innovation, and marketing is about deep customer insights, then marketing is the job of every employee.
Social media has only made this point painfully clear: every employee is an extension of the brand. The brand serves to meet the needs of the customer and the business serves to innovate.
It’s a lot like dating
The first part of marketing is the conversation that starts between two people who don’t know each other well. You meet for coffee, ask questions, and try and get to know the person. They key to a successful first date (and a potential second date) is understanding their dreams and problems and needs. Talking about yourself and your problems will almost guarantee you DON’T get that second date.
This conversation continues into the second and third dates, as we get to know each other better. And like human relationships, the brands who delve into deeper connections are the ones who appear to care more about the other person than they do about themselves.
The brands who win more customers are the ones who put their customers ahead of their desire to sell more stuff.
The business benefit is in establishing trust, and building an audience of people who believe in you to help them in times of need. Because when given a choice, we only buy from brands we know, like and trust!
To be truly effective, marketing needs to start with a focus on understanding customer pain points and meeting their needs. Marketing should be telling stories, not selling products. Stories draw you in, they elicit trust and they’re at the very core of every relationship.
Marketing helps build brands through great experiences.
Great brands show us who they are in the experiences they deliver. Marketers should seek to understand what a great experience should be.
Experiences have the ability to change the perception of a brand in the mind of the customer. Brands must deliver amazing customer experiences. Not just in the products they sell, and how well they deliver “features,” but in the way that they behave as companies, in the way their employees treat customers. Because when all those experiences are delivered, that’s when a brand is created.
Apple’s a great example of this – caring about delivering great technology and then delivering on the promise of easy to use products, simply and beautifully designed. And no advertisement, logo, or sales person can change that.
Ideally, marketing supports strong brands. Great brands are able to produce great marketing. It’s in the delivery of their amazing products, and the treatment of their employees. Great brands are seen as considerate global citizens, thinking of future generations and the future of our world.
Marketing can roughly be split into offline and online or digital methods.
These days most businesses are using online marketing more and more as consumers are increasingly spending more time online and digital offers various advantages in terms of speed, efficiency, and ROI.
These are some of the types of online options available to today’s businesses:
Publishing content in different forms to build brand awareness and nurture relationships with customers and include blogs, posts on social media, infographics, and video.
Search engine optimization
Commonly known as SEO, this is the process of using relevant, commonly searched for words and phrases on your website to make it more visible to search engines and attract more traffic from searches.
Search engine marketing
Also known as pay-per-click or PPC, businesses pay to have a link to their site placed in a prominent position on search engine result pages
Using social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to build relationships with existing customers and reach a wider audience through specific targeting and digital word-of-mouth.
Sending regular email communications to users who have signed up to your list to build relationships and drive sales.
Contacting existing or potential customers after they have already had an interaction with your brand to get them to come back or convert into a sale. For example, targeting them in their Facebook feed with a product they’ve looked at on your site.
Use a combination of the marketing platforms that suit your customer personas. You don’t have to use all of them and unless you’re a multinational with huge budgets, you won’t be able to afford to. To form an effective marketing strategy for your individual business, select the types of marketing that will be most effective for you.
Understanding Your Customer
You should have already done some marketing before you’ve even established your brand. You’ll have realised there’s a need for your product. You’ll know who will want it. Knowing who your potential customer is, what they want and how they like to do it, is key to your marketing strategy.
After your product or service has been launched, you’ll want to measure its success, see if it’s meeting customer needs. In this way, marketing also plays a part in customer service and nurturing customer relationships. So it’s not just about acquiring new customers, but also making sure you get the most out of your existing customers and that they give you repeat business and get new customers for you.
Digital marketing has opened up a new world of possibilities when it comes to understanding your customers better and building relationships with them.
We have the ability to collect a vast amount of data about individuals including their demographics, location, shopping habits, previous brand interactions, likes and dislikes, and more. We can then use this data to market directly and personally to them in ways we never really could before, and with products that we know they have an interest in.
We can use highly personalised communications, and publish content that is relevant to them. We can see what they are engaging with online and listen in to what they are talking about on social media.
The 4 Ps to develop your plan
The “marketing mix”, or the “the 4 Ps” of marketing should be the foundation of your marketing plan. They represent the main decisions you will have to make when marketing your products or services. This is what a traditional marketing mix encompasses.
- Product– what is your product or service? Why do people need or want it?
- Pricing– what price will you set your product at?
- Place– how do you deliver the product to the customer? Will you need a store or can you sell online?
- Promotion– what marketing methods will you use to tell the world about your product?
Getting the marketing mix right aligns you with your customers’ wants and needs, strengthens your brand presence, and ultimately maximises your ROI.
In the digital marketing mix, the 4 Ps are the same, but the approach is different.
- Product– Selling online means that you can have a business with no physical stock or warehouse. You can sell digital products such as e-books and courses. Or you can order products on demand, negating the need for storage and double-handling.
- Price– Digital technology means that you don’t have to lock in a price for your product or service – you can alter the price depending on who’s viewing it and from where. You can also offer subscriptions, recurring payments or after pay.
- Place – Clearly the main difference here is you’re selling online instead of in a bricks-and-mortar store. But there are also many different channels to explore when it comes to selling online. Your own website, online market places, email, and social media are all avenues to consider.
- Promotion – Again, you’ll still promote your product but the methods are different from traditional marketing. Email and social media marketing are the expected norms rather than newspaper ads, television and radio. And they’re cheaper and quicker!
Do you need a Marketing Strategy?
Of course. Every business needs marketing to succeed. Because if no one knows about your products or services, how will they buy them?
Start by learning and understanding more about your customer. Your marketing strategy will help you to figure out exactly who is looking and listening and how you can align your business plans with your customer needs. This will not only result in satisfied customers but also drive revenue, and ensure you’re heading in the right strategic direction for both short-term and long-term growth.