Series: Making marketing work for you (Article 3 - Marketing)
Marketing professionals operate in an ever-changing environment, needing to anticipate the requirements and wants of customers we don't yet have. This means marketing is often seen as one of the more intimidating parts of business operations. We know we have to do it, we try to make a plan, and we have some sort of notion as to what our efforts may provide, but we often put pressure on ourselves to dig too deep into each customer type or cover new markets before they arrive. Its as though we are trying to predict exactly how much it will snow this winter rather than simply acknowledging that winter is on its way. Marketing will always be tricky and nuanced, but just knowing the basics and how it is an asset can relieve some of the stress in a small business. Today we’re putting our efforts into decrypting the details of marketing; what it is, why it’s useful, and how it can help your business thrive.
What is marketing & when is it used?
The moment you have a conversation about something you’re interested in or something you saw on television, you may notice that somehow ads for that exact thing begin to appear. Suddenly your social media feed looks different, the messages on Facebook are eerie, and whatever it is you mentioned is now in abundance everywhere. That is marketing. ‘Marketing is the culmination of all activities that set the stage for sales to take place. It is the marketer who establishes a brand and maintains its reputation in the eyes of others.’ Place, promotion, product, and price are the focal points of all things marketing. The team targets the big picture, promotes the company/brand, and often uses campaigns that last over a far longer span of time. It’s the marketing plan that tells you the product, the service, the price, who it’s for, where you can find it, and of course, why you might want it. That team manages to figure out the right clients and customers and attract those individuals to connect with this optimal brand.
How does marketing differ from sales?
In small businesses, and even in the eyes of many on the outside of all things communication, the likes of marketing and sales merge. While they do have similarities, it’s where the two diverge that makes all the difference. ‘Marketing informs and attracts leads and prospects to your company...sales, on the other hand, works directly...to convert prospects into customers’. The end goals for both involve generating all things revenue. It’s the marketing that gets the audience hyped and the sales that close the deal. It’s the marketing team that seeks to peak the interest, do the market research, and create and facilitate the campaigns that seize our attention. Marketing enhances trust and ushers the engagement all the way through that ending sale.
The way you engage comes in many forms, with each appealing to a different audience. Marketing strategies may include: ‘internet marketing, print marketing, blog marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and video marketing’. The marketing team’s goal is to build and engage with an audience through choosing the best combination of these strategies in order to boost the profile of a company/product and bring more eyeballs to the table. Then it’s the job of the sales team to take over and finish the job, converting the viewer into a customer.
How does marketing differ from PR?
We totally get it, you’re the only one on staff in your start up and you’ve got to wear all the hats. If that’s you, then it’s altogether possible that you’re doing all things marketing and PR - and ‘while both marketing and PR have similar processes, they each have a unique differentiator when it comes to the end goal’. Marketing works to generate leads and funnel opportunities in the sales team’s direction. PR takes an even longer view of prospects than marketing. Public relations works best when given the time to work that magic, build relationships, merge conversations between brands, media, and a wider audience, and influence the broader story. If visibility and brand equity is what you’re looking for, PR is the lever to pull.
Why/when would you outsource marketing?
Individual start ups, small entrepreneurial movements, and even medium size businesses are sometimes running every single task on their own. Sometimes, we need to figure out where our time and talents are best spent and it may or may not be in the field of marketing. Sure, there are heaps of tools around to learn the ropes and help along the way. You’ll need to utilize tools for SEO (search engine optimization), content and image creation, automated email responses, and more on top of the everyday contact software and the world of video conferencing. And, when you step into the wider fray of all things digital we’re adding blogs, vlogs, local and affiliate posts and systems, webinars, social media, and all the facets in between. If your forte lies elsewhere, then it’s time to raise your hand and ask for assistance. So, before you print those business cards and tell more than your close family that you’re building this business, be sure you have a marketing budget that allows you to outsource the talents of experts to help launch you into the stratosphere.
Put in ‘simplest terms, marketing generates inquiries from prospects. Marketing validates the extensiveness of the customer base and how to build connections'. This crucial ‘act of studying the market and recognizing the consumers’ needs’ allows an audience to find out about your company/brand, realize the problem that you can solve for them, and facilitates a way for these newfound clients to engage with the community and offerings available. The hype can begin even before the thing exists. Sometimes we don’t know the line up of a music festival before we get there, but the idea of joining the party is enough to sell the tickets. According to business guru Seth Godin, ‘marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, it’s about the story you tell’. When all is said and done, it’s your business, it’s your story to share - use it well.