Every time somebody asks me to define marketing I find myself thinking of something Seth Godin is credited with:
“Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.”
Well, supposedly Seth said something like this, but the reality is closer to good marketing “winning” the contest for consumer attention. If you ask 100 people to define marketing, you’ll also get 100 different answers, two for each for discerning what PR is. This is problematic, obviously. How can you expect a business owner to trust you if you cannot accurately define what it is, and how you do something?
To bridge this gap of understanding a bit, we need to turn to Peter Drucker (at left) to simplify what marketing is. Drucker, for those who do not know, created the basic foundations of so-called management by objectives, or participative goal setting, strategic course of actions and the decision making process. If business is about first innovation, and then marketing it, then the latter is as much a “product” as the product or service itself. I believe “integral” fits here as one clearly defined “must” for marketing know how. Here are five fundamental rules for defining yourself as a marketer, just in case.
One: Marketing is about the “win-win”
Like it or not, the best marketers understand longevity and success are all about winning products or services going to customers who win out for having bought them. Value may be a cliche term, but if your product sucks, you won’t be in the game very long. Winning, they say, is everything. The first definition of marketing know how has to be then, knowing there are only two entities in the marketing equation – buyer and seller. Both have to win.
Two: A Marketer Understands People, Most of All
Figuring out what the customer wants. This is a big task, and we are not talking about “convincing” consumers to buy what “we” want them to buy. Anylizing trends, tabulating so-called Big Data, whatever metrics we throw at the problem of consumer wants, the best marketing guru out there realizes first, there’s a human being on the other end of his or her computing. Sometimes, no matter what the “data” says, marketing is also about “gut feelings”; “Would I ever, would my family ever, would anyone really want this product pitched this way?” The human side, this is the Holy Grail of marketing no matter what era you come from. You may have heard someone like Brian Solis (below) talk about the marketing funnel being broken, well the part that’s broken is the understanding of the people in the center of the funnel.
Three: Brands Are the Winners
Back when the so-called Web 2.0 movement took hold we all figures somehow that Web based businesses and modes of operation would end up slaughtering things like brand awareness and brand loyalty. Boy were we wrong! Well, at least wrong in the sense that if you do not develop an awesome brand digitally too, then your effort is doomed to be slain by a bigger, better brand. We are seeing now, largely because of their innate understanding of marketing, that the big brands like Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola, and others are winning as never before. A sidestep here is needed into marketers understanding too how PR affects brand. I’ll say no more on that here. Just remember, if you figure to beat a good brand just because of your mobile app or innovation, think again.
Four: Marketing Is the Center, Not An Arm of Business
Many businesses treat their marketing departments as some offshoot of operations. This is patently wrong. If excellent marketing is anything, it’s understanding each and every role in the process of business. Product development to service after the sale, every huge winning business has a marketing mentality in every department. What I mean by this is, the production ecosystem a business creates has to have at its core the same understanding ability, the same logic systems in place, which I have listed above. What great product or selling point can you name, that did not have somebody thinking “who can use this, what good is that, how this, what if that, based on what data, what about tomorrow, five thousand different equations of value judgement?”
Five: Great Marketing Is Not Cost Prohibitive
Nearly every time I discuss marketing or PR with a new client the idea that public relations and/or marketing is inherently a rich man’s game comes up. To be sure, billions have been wasted on crappy PR and marketing campaigns, sometimes for crappy products with zero chance too. The fact is though, optimizing marketing departments along the lines we already discussed virtually ensures a kind of economy of excellence, if I can call it that. So many throw money at communications that are destined to fail out of sheer mediocrity. Think this way, what if? What if your marketing is integrated into your business as discussed? Does it cost more to “think” one way, as opposed to another? What if you employ, train, plan, strategize, form up your business ecosystem to function not only as an R&D, production, sales, and service organization, but as all these imbued with the right marketing mind mix in the first (or second) place? How much cheaper is it to “be”, as opposed to catching up?
As bad as I hate lists, the blurb content trend, and a world of “how to” by the unknowing, it is sometimes useful to just label things like marketing secrets. As you can see from the list above, it’s not really about rocket science anyhow. Great marketing is just common sense. So too, is public relations, more on that later.