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 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.

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.

So little just does, but some things just are

I tend to think a lot in questions of What? & Why?  I have always been so curious to find out why something – anything – works the way it does.  I don’t care as much to know how it accomplishes what it does, but to know what it’s purpose is.

What I’ve learned in the years of asking myself “Why” questions is that while so little in life “just does,” so much “just is.”

C.S. Lewis is one of my examples of a brilliant mind that asks the “Why” questions.  He breaks down ideas into the most basic principles; he was a king of analytics.  But even he makes the statement

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Some things just are.  Like our strengths.  And our passions.  Some things are learned and cultivated.  Others are what we call ‘natural,’ inherent pieces of our DNA.  They just are.

And this is what I feel differentiates me from those who have come before me.  Whatever questions we naturally want to ask, sometimes we should stop asking and accept that we don’t understand.  Only then can we open our ears to counterparts in our lives, in our work, in our office to collectively find solutions and reach decisions that we can’t make when we’re just asking a “Why” question.  Or a “How” question, and so on.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: tomorrow’s CEOs were brought up in an era of innovation and quick adaptations.  And the smart ones know to use the strengths of our culture that have made it easier for us to stop talking and listen.
(Despite the noise, which in itself is another blog post entirely… Stay tuned.)

Now That’s What I Call Marketing

Recently, on my way out of Walmart, I saw an advertisement for a CD we all remember: NOW! That’s What I Call Music.
The ad was promoting the 40-something volume. I had Now! 7 back in the day. And I was tired of it in about 5 seconds. Maybe that’s just me…

I can’t help but feel sorry for this compilation CD that will have no chance in a world of iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.  When was the last time someone asked you, “Hey, did you get the new NOW! CD? It far exceeded my expectations.”  Or even the last time you saw a commercial for it, or heard about it on the radio?   And yet, they’re still in production.

You have to wonder: where did all the compact discs go?  In this rapidly evolving world we moved from vinyls to computer managed music faster than you could say m-p-3.
The majority of CD purchasers these days are either supporting a band or artist that they respect, or they have just not moved into this century.  The chances of either purchaser wanting a mixture of the most recent worn-out radio play are slim.  And when you can just create the same playlist or stream ‘Everything Popular‘ on the online radio of your choice for free, why pay?

In marketing, understanding culture is essential.  Otherwise, how will you know it’s time for your NOW! to become something of the past.  When is it time for a good-or a not so good- product to die?

Millennial with the Microphone

It’s the ever-increasing type of leadership forum: Communication How-To’s on the Millennial species.  From “Dealing with Millennials in the Workplace” to “How to Manage Your Millennial,” they’ve gone above and beyond with the proper ways to care for your millennial.  Water them once a day and they’re sure to flourish…

Okay they’re not all that bad.

But, I’ll share a little secret, straight from a millennial: Give us your expectations, and let us show you how we thrive.  We come from a culture of fast-paced, innovation; we are an eager generation.  Give us room.  Let us prove ourselves to you.

I could never stress it enough, but please don’t treat us like children.  Your children, specifically.  Yes, I’ve heard you time and time again: your daughter and I are the same age, and you know exactly how my mind works; there is little less motivating than not being given the opportunity to be an adult in the workplace.  Treat me like you would have liked to have been treated 25 years ago, or 30, or 40…  Share wisdom, and insight, critique, and strategy for improvement; do not mistake our willingness (and happiness) to learn new things.

It’s more simple than being up to date with all of our interests, and styles of learning, even.  Some CEOs will take their stubborn way of business to the grave with them.  But there comes a time when you realize the whole world has changed around you and you must ask yourself, “If I run my business the way I’ve always run it, will I run it into the ground?”  Or can I accept new input- listen to my employees, of all ages, genders, and races, and trust that what they bring to the table is valid, if not vital?  Can I trust that I’ve built a culture of appreciation for this company that allows them to have meaningful suggestions for its success?  If you can’t say yes to that… you don’t need to spend your time Google searching ways to manage your millennial; you’ve got bigger problems.

We won’t do things the way your founders did things, or even the way you did things when you were our age.  But that’s the beauty behind diversity.  Let us bring a fresh perspective, our perspective.  As much (and there is much) that we can learn from someone who has established reputability in an industry, they too can learn from- dare I say it – a millennial.