Marketing: What Is It & Why It Is Important
As a business owner, what pops into your mind when you hear the word marketing? Do you see business cards, flyers, newspaper ads, TV and radio commercials, billboards, web pages, the internet, someone standing in the street wearing a costume or just money flying out the door without regard for effectiveness, efficiency or value? If this is true for you, perhaps it is time to rethink the definition, purpose and goal of marketing.
The definition of marketing can be summarized through the following. You want your existing and potential customers, and your competition, to discover that your marketing strategy and implementation will involve:
a. Everything your customer or potential customer sees, hears, smells, feels, tastes, thinks or even wonders about your business.
b. Anything that causes the customer to form a positive impression or even have a good thought about your business.
c. Marketing is what GETS and KEEPS your customers!
The basic, fundamental, essential purpose of marketing is getting your name into the minds of your current and prospective customers, with positive connotations, at the exact moment your services or needs are required. This is a combination of name recognition, awareness of who you are and what your company does, reputation, perceived level of quality and value and a host of other requirements you have no control over.
Studies have suggested that convincing a customer to switch requires approximately seven to twelve different contacts over time. Personal visits, phone calls, sales literature, price lists, responding to RFQ’s, donuts for the loading dock or a fruit basket to the front office, a birthday card to an administrative assistant, a note congratulating the purchasing manager on winning a new contract, participating in their fundraisers or anything to help the decision maker remember you, your company and your products and services.
Finally, the call comes. The customer is in a bind, is ready to give you a chance or the existing vendor dropped the ball. Don’t ask why, it’s immaterial. Performance should be foundational until the order is delivered or the contract is completed. Your reputation and future is under a microscope. Hopefully, you have been under-promising and under-describing your capabilities. Hopefully you are fully aware of your competition’s pricing levels, strengths, capabilities and service record. Hopefully, your business strategy and planning is set up to with these realities in mind. Why? With this call, you can demonstrate how your pricing is a better value, your performance is higher, your quality is better, your delivery time is shorter and your execution is under budget regarding time and money. Marketing created the opportunity, performance creates your reputation and your customer gives you the most valuable commodity in the business world, trust.
The goal of marketing is to simply put you in the position to serve your customers. The caveat is that you must serve those customers better than your competitors, with consistency and the awareness that paranoia is an ally. Marketing will get you a customer. Service will keep your customer. Paranoia will drive you to protect the relationship and ward off the competition.