If you’re thinking about starting a business, or you’ve got a business going that you want to continue to grow, I’ve got some unconventional marketing wisdom to share today.
There are a couple of truths that you won’t find in many books on marketing that have become the foundational reality for every marketer that’s out there in the trenches, paying very close attention to how the new world of marketing is evolving.
Here are five things that this new kind of real marketer knows.
1) Marketing planning is guessing
I know that conventional wisdom suggests you should start the year off with a marketing plan and I don’t disagree. What I do take issue with is the belief that the exercise is about creating the plan. The primary benefit of marketing planning is the process you must take to do it, the questions you must consider in order to come to any conclusions about your strategies and tactics.
But, once a marketing plan, complete with whatever projections you want to fill in, is complete, the real work begins. Don’t call it a marketing plan, call it a marketing action guide and plug it in to every indicator you can measure daily, weekly and monthly.
It’s OK to guess, but let the market tell you the truth. Take that truth and make adjustments based on facts and findings instead of wishful thinking. Be ready to narrow and refine your thinking based on what you discover “out there” and don’t stay married to a document you created without any real input from the customer.
2) A great customer experience is the best form of lead generation
Marketers love the chase of moving a prospect through the age-old marketing funnel right up to the point where they become a customer. Then it’s back to the pool to find some more, right?
If more marketers spent every shred of energy they had on creating a great customer experience, one that met the customer expectation and then found ways to exceed it at every turn, lead generation would become a very simple game.
Customers that love the experience of doing business with your organization, both logically and emotionally, will tell everyone they know about you. Understand that this is about far more than a good product or service. This goes deeply into what your business stands for, how your people feel treated, the vibe customers get when they enter into a transaction.
Customer experience is not about a marketing campaign; it’s about every little detail, element of culture and taste and how you pay attention to any gaps in the process.
3) If you compete on price you will always lose
The only real reason a business other than Wal-Mart would choose to compete on price is because they have no other way of communicating the value of doing business with their firm. Potential customers are wired to consider one firm vs. another when making a buying decision and if you don’t give them actual reasons to consider the unique benefits of doing business with you; they will default to price shopping.
Price is a terrible place to compete because there is always someone willing to go out of business faster than you.
Price moves down or off the list when a prospect can’t get what you offer, exactly as you offer it, anywhere else. You must seize some opportunity to stand out and communicate that simple difference in every marketing word and action. If you don’t take a stand get ready to here “how much” in every sales presentation you make.
I know business owner have heard this before, but so few are doing anything about it. If you’re not willing to stand out, risk being different, do something remarkable and tell the world about it, you don’t get to sit around wondering why your phone’s not ringing.
4) Out teaching the competition is the best way to win
One thing that’s definitely changed over the last few years, due largely to the growth of search engines, is the availability of information and people’s hunger to consume it. Many prospects now know more about a product than the salesperson charged with presenting it.
Marketers have either become publishers of great information or they’ve become irrelevant in the conversation. Educating without reservation has become the expectation and competitive advantage for those have embraced it.
Trust building in this transparent marketing universe we live in today has become the essential ingredient in any successful marketing initiative and few things build trust more than valuable, education based content delivered over and over again.
5) Everyone in the organization works in the marketing department
This truth might scare some business owners, but know that your employees are treating your customers and prospects about the same way you are treating them. Let that sink in a moment and you might discover that your HR, Finance, and Shipping departments perform essential marketing functions every single day.
The question of course is are they prepared to represent the brand in a way that delivers a positive customer experience? Yes, Joe in accounting performs a marketing function with each and every customer, supplier, or prospect contact. Have you checked his marketing message of late?
Image credit: @k@sh