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Marketing more than just making things look pretty

Comprehensive strategy can help achieve improved results

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Marketing is broken and misunderstood. Marketing is not supposed to just “make it pretty.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/08/2018 (1585 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Marketing is broken and misunderstood. Marketing is not supposed to just “make it pretty.”

For the sake of business success, it can and must be fixed.

Having a Facebook page is not marketing — it is just one component of the marketing mix. Selling online is not a marketing strategy — it is only one of the available sales channels. Tweeting is not marketing — it is just another part of marketing tactics.

I am an old-school marketer. The fundamentals of marketing have always served me well in a variety of situations throughout my 20 years in sales and marketing leadership and almost 14 years in management consulting. Recently, I was the content developer for the Introduction to Marketing course for the Continuing Education Department at the University of Manitoba. I went back to my roots, so to speak (I have a B Comm (Hons) from the U of M), and used this time to really review what has happened to marketing, where it appears to be going today and what can be done to regain its credibility for businesses and to guide students who want to join the profession.

Companies today are struggling to understand marketing because of the heightened emphasis on metrics and results that is raising expectations coming from the executive suite. While I firmly believe in the power of data, I also see many cases where the context of the data is not properly considered to aid in making strong decisions. Big Data has been cast as a means to an end, but in following the trail from the means to the end, companies have lost sight of the human customer! Marketers need to be people focused, not data-driven. Ari Shenken, VP of marketing at IBM, said if you want to know if you are client-centric, then look at your data. If the data is not organized around people, then you are not client-centric.

True marketing involves the management of the product (or service), pricing strategies, place (the distribution channels) and the promotion (what most people call marketing). Advertising alone is not marketing. It is one part of the promotion element.

Marketing involves understanding your customer and the corresponding analysis of what is required to sell your product or service, the creation of the strategies necessary to accomplish this and the tactics you will employ to achieve the results.

Marketing is also not linear. Performance of a single action almost never results in a specific response. The complexities of organizations result in many customer touch points at different times in the journey that will have an impact on whether customers will buy your product or service.

A structured marketing approach, even in small business, can be accomplished by following some simple steps.

First, you need to audit all elements that should be included as marketing. How much do you spend, on what activities, and what does your staff actually do? What are the results — in both tangible terms like the financial return on investment and the more intangible things that are harder to measure like customer satisfaction? What data is used to ensure a complete analysis, so that nothing is left to speculation? What do you know about how your product is used and perceived by your customers to achieve their business or personal benefit? What features are good and what would people like changed or improved. And, you must also factor in competitors!

Next, you need to analyze these findings to create a plan that can drive the corporate objectives. You must work with finance, IT and the CEO to understand what they look at for measures of success, and the marketing plan should be in sync. The rule is that great marketing begins at home, and there should be no surprises to anyone on the senior management team.

Finally, you need to craft a plan of activities and allocate the appropriate resources to achieve success. If you show me where you spend your money, I will tell you what you think is important. Ensure alignment with the expenditures and the areas of importance within your company.

Please do not discount this approach, even though it may appear dry and boring. If you continue to take your chances with what you have been doing, you must not expect different results. If you insist on following that shiny new “marketing silver bullet” (remember, Pokemon Go was going to change marketing forever) don’t be surprised where you end up.

You can deliver excitement and delight in many ways to create a winning marketing program. And, having a consistent and disciplined approach will provide confidence to your employees that you are in this game for the duration. No shortcuts. The proper game plan with a sound strategy and clear directions for implementation is how the marketing game can be won. And it will take hard work, focus and effort across your organization.

Tim’s Bits: Never trust marketing advice from someone who has not trained in, or at least studied in detail, marketing fundamentals. Know what your company is doing well. Build from your strengths. Involve your employees with insights to know your customer better and ensure you are delivering what they really need from you.

Tim Kist is a Certified Management Consultant working with organizations to improve their overall performance by being truly customer focused.

Tim Kist

Tim Kist
Columnist

Tim is a certified management consultant with more than two decades of experience in various marketing and sales leadership positions.

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