Why you don’t need marketing for your business

Let’s start with a simple explanation of what marketing actually is.  Marketing is the process of positioning your product or service in such a way that it is clearly communicated to your consumers why they need or want to purchase it.  This includes market research, word of mouth, and external advertising.  And it’s the same across all marketing mediums- whether that is a brochure, a magazine ad, a billboard, a website, a radio ad, etc.

Now that we’re clear about what it is, here are the reasons you don’t need marketing.

You don’t need marketing just because your friend created a Facebook business page and now it has 100K likes.
Social Media is being used by businesses all over the world, with great results for many.  So it should definitely be an option that is explored by your marketing department.  But if your focus is creating a business page so that you can get a bunch of likes, and not communicating with your audience, then you’ve probably just spent a lot of time and energy on marketing that won’t work.

You don’t need marketing just because an article you read said that your website has to look awesome.
It is true that 80% of consumers research a product or service online before making a purchase.  So if they are brought to your website, it should be an accurate representation of your brand and easy to use.  But if your focus is creating an awesome website and not communicating to your audience, then you’ve probably just spent thousands of dollars on marketing that won’t work.

You don’t need marketing just because you have a product or service that you want to convince people to buy.
If your focus is making people want something, and not creating something people want, then you’ve probably just misunderstood how marketing works.

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers. – Seth Godin

All too often, I sit down with a business owner and they tell me they need SEO, a website, a Facebook page, a postcard.  And I respond with, “Why do you need ______?”  They usually give me answers just like the ones in bold above.  But these answers have the wrong focus – they are focused on what the business owner wants, rather than what her customers want.  I’ve yet to ask that question and get the response, “Because that is where and how my consumer wants to communicate with me.”

To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products.

— Brian Halligan, Hubspot CEO & co-founder

So that is where we should start.  How and where do my prospects want to learn about and shop for my products?

You don’t need marketing for any of the reasons in bold above.  But you do need marketing to figure out how you can create something that your prospects want and need, and to effectively communicate the value of that product or service to them.

I deliver free marketing consultations as part of my work with Worry Free Consulting. In fact, they have a free marketing analysis service that you can do online. And please contact me if you have any questions at melissa@worryfreeconsulting.com.  

 

 

The last question that changed my life

I went to lunch with a group of professionals last week. They all had 15, 20, 30+ years of experience in their fields. I pushed food around my plate when they talked “experience.” My boss had invited me along to introduce me to these people as a way to make my new position known, in hopes that when any of them find someone looking for Marketing Consulting, they think of me.

They spent the lunch telling me what they did and offering me sound advice on what to do/not to do at a networking event. I nodded my head as each one brought up a new point and filed it away into my arsenal of networking knowledge. I was really appreciative of their insight and wisdom in the matter.  And then one of them asked me a question, and suddenly all eyes were on me, waiting for me to share something useful.

He asked, “What goes through your head when you walk into a networking meeting?”

My initial thought was to lie. Not on purpose, but just so that I could respond quickly. Because I realized I didn’t have an answer. I’d never thought about that before. I decided to be honest, and took a second to think.

“When I walk into a room full of 200 or 300 people, I think about how intimidating it is to be amidst people with so much more experience than me. It’s sort of terrifying.”

I was surprised as they all chimed in about why that is the last thing I should be thinking, not only because it squashes my confidence, but because it simply isn’t true.  Each of them took a few seconds to explain why I am the person in the room that matters.  And with each of their answers, and even the very fact that he asked, it was clear to me that this fear was rooted in falsity.

A good question can do that to you.  You just have to allow yourself the time to reflect and answer honestly.  It can change your life; even in the smallest way.

The Dying Art of Selling

Wondering where I’ve been?  

I’ve been selling.  Or at least trying.

So I started work at a marketing firm just outside of Downtown St. Louis.  I went in with a year’s worth of eager interest in promotions and advertising.  They threw me into the selling pit.  Entry-level sales.

But what I’ve been realizing is that my department is revered.  At least, within our company.

To some of the clients or prospects I reach, I am just calling off a list and they expect the worst of me.  I feel the guard go up through the phone when I tell them where I am from.  But I what I want to spit out before that guard goes up is, “Hey, no worries!  I read The Go Giver, and I have product passion, and I just want to help people.”

Because I do believe that selling was not meant to be a 5 second payment process.  My role is education, and expertise, and passion, and product knowledge, and service, and sympathy, and being your therapist when you want to let off a little steam about your frustration with the lack of responses you get from your website.  

And that is an art we should keep alive.

Interview with an undetermined

I have actually had this post written for quite some time.  

Katie, from Ask The Young Professional,  nominated me for the Liebster Award… a while ago. She blogs from New York about her experiences in the Sesame Workshop as a production assistant.  I never really asked her anything, but she gives out fun pieces of wisdom every now and again when I get a chance to read.  

Having just started my new job at this marketing company (which I had not even had time to announce… Surprise!  I started a new job), I have had so little time to think, much less blog.  I will come back with something witty and riveting pertaining to professionalism, or marketing, or sales, or all of the above.

For now, we’ll stick with the interview required of the Liebster Award:

The Questions:

1.  What qualities matter most to you in a job?
A creative environment for inspiration.  Open communication; collaboration and problem resolution.  Integrity; honest work and transparency with customers.

2.  What is your dream job?
What a question!  Am I obligated to say the job I just started?  It is a great job.  The jury is still out.  My dream place of work is somewhere that my role is not just useful; it’s vital.  Somewhere that I can be an essential part of the difference between a good service and a great service.

3. Who are your role models?
People who do something they are passionate about, no matter  the cost.

4.  What inspires you?
The belief that I’m not just here, on earth, for me.  That God has given me a purpose to serve people (because He loves them) in accordance with glory.  That there is so much depth and width and breadth to all of creation that I will never see enough beauty, experience enough culture, or learn enough of the vastness of the world.  It inspires me to not waste a second.

5.  What is your favorite quote?
This changes on the regular, but most recently:  
“The most untutored person with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without.” – La Rouchefoucald

6.  If you could travel back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?
“Don’t chase that boy on the playground; he ends up with a cootie you can’t get rid of…”
Ok, but seriously.  I was 10 years old ten years ago;  I’ll come back to this question in another ten years.  That will be fun.

7.  What special or unusual skills do you have?
Does sarcasm count?  I’m really good at that.

8.  What is your greatest achievement?
Surviving the last year.  Oh, and landing my hunk of a fiance in that time.

9.  What is the most unexpected fact you’ve learned on your job search?
Not only do consumers do business with brands they get to know, like, and trust- so do employers.  

10.  What are your best qualities?
I am charming and brilliant, of course.  This question makes me uncomfortable.  Pass.

11.  Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
Emma Stone- she’s awkward and sarcastic.  Mainly from Crazy, Stupid, Love.  And not just because she scores Ryan Gosling.  That little awkward hand wave she does in the wine aisle? That’s my thing.

So there we have it.
The blog I wrote over a week ago, finally published.

 

If you treat employees like children

If you treat your employees like bad children- untrustworthy, incapable, and undeserving- it is much more likely that they will behave like bad children. You will teach them that they only have the ability to “get by.” Your little faith and lack of trust in them is not exactly an equation for motivation.

If you treat them like good children- praiseworthy, capable, and deserving- they are more likely to behave like good children. They will work to make you happy, they will often reach their quota. And they will always strive to accomplish what is expected of them. They will feel happily entitled to their bonuses and incentives because they will have confidence in having done everything exactly the way you want.

BUT, if you are ever so bold as to treat your employees like adults? You guessed it. They are much more likely to act like adults. They are much more likely to exceed what’s expected and complete work that they are proud of.

Mature adults have integrity and know how to manage time. They take criticism constructively and promote productivity amongst their coworkers. Adults can take the initiative and make their own choices. Even good children need handholding. And while bad children might behave when you are around, when you leave, they will feel the temptation to do all of the things you restrain them from doing.

You might on occasion find a child that, when treated with responsibility and trust, will rise to the role and act like an adult. But you will not find many adults who will be treated like children and still be motivated to act like adults.

So hire adults. Train adults. Cultivate adults.
And you will get adults.

The Customer: Your Best Salesperson

Aside

A few weeks ago, a coworker was talking about Panda Express and a new shrimp entrée they’ve released.  Lo & behold, another coworker made their way to the fast-Asian Cuisine chain later that day and purchased the very plate he described.  She joked when she got back to the office that Panda Express should be paying him for bringing in business.  I think there’s more truth to that than she realized.

Word of mouth reviews- the organic and real kind- are the most powerful marketing tools your company will never have to buy.  If you are treating customers well and offering relevant and useful products, that is.

Superior service will always trump gimmicks in the long run.  Because after a while, people will see through a gimmick and hear that their friend’s so-and-so company is great at handling issues, or has a more competitive price, or offers better quality.  Tell your funny cat commercials to fix that one.  As Gary Vaynerchuk so bluntly puts it in The Thank You Economy, “people have a pretty good bullshit reader” these days.  In the transparent world of social media marketing, you can’t sell your gimmicks for very long.  You have to sell your brand, your vision, yourself.

Whether it’ patient representative, educational content, consistent & relevant emails to touch base, or whatever else it may be- those will all outrun an entertaining gimmick that in no way represents what your brand stands for.

Let your food/service/product speak for itself.  Chances are, your customers will soon be carrying your message to their friends.

Social media: Bad reviews are better than no reviews at all

Developing a social media community can definitely be an intimidating leap of faith.  Business owners, executives… they can easily be scared away when they weigh the “pros” against the “cons.”  Trust me when I say I’ve fought this fight.

When I was first setting up social media accounts for the insurance company, the same question was posed to me in different ways multiple times:  What if people comment or post negative things about our agency?

As Gary Vaynerchuk so boldly expresses in The Thank-You Economy (paraphrasing here),

Bad reviews are better than no reviews.

If people have negative things to say about your brand, they are going to say them – regardless of whether or not you provide a platform for them to do so.  It would be to your benefit that unsatisfied customers are ranting in a place that you can see it & address it.

I believe that if you are doing business ethically and transparently, you might lose business from a customer that you downright can’t make happy.  But you won’t walk away the bad guy.
Providing a place for people to give honest reviews allows you to hear what your customers like, want, & need.  And here’s the kicker: you can talk back.

“Social Media” isn’t a scary marketing tactic you, as a CEO or business owner, know nothing about.  (Hint: you’ve been doing it for years.)  It’s just communication… with technological advances that enable you to do it in a different (and much broader) way than you’ve ever done before.

Don’t be scared. Jump in!  Remember: your customers are already talking about you.