What the hell is marketing?
This is relevant question today because everyone seems to point to marketing as THEE key to success. And yet, definitions and expectations diverge wildly about what marketing is and what it is not. Mostly it seems to be misunderstood, misused or both. At Re:Sourceful, we say > Marketing builds and/or solidifies relationships with customers, so they buy from you and keep buying – even when they have other options.
We view it as the beginning of the sales process. Great marketing can sell in some cases, but the days of interruptive marketing or 'advertising' having the ability to grasp someone's attention and get them to act/buy are mostly long gone. Sure it may still work for some markets and some demographics, but even those options are slipping away rapidly. For every way we have to talk with our customer, they have a method to block or shield themselves.
Most of our partners are in the telecommunications industry, and changing/threatening regulations and rising costs are major issues for companies and the customers they serve.
So, where does that leave marketing? Possibly in a very good place if we are willing to change our approach, and change it dramatically.
Healthy relationships at any level are two-sided. They are about listening, caring and acting to the benefit of other person. Business relationships are exactly the same. For years most companies didn't treat them this way because they couldn't or didn't want to make the effort. Today, tools exist to better accommodate one-to-one communication and relationship building interaction, if you are willing.
In my view, these are some steps toward change that may help:
1) You need a truly great collection of talented people. Experts that have the ability to build and enhance relationships through sharing their knowledge for the benefit of customers. If you don't have them, you need the guts to go get them. You may have to move some people to other seats or off the bus all together.
2) Your entire staff needs the desire to communicate your collective expertise and then demonstrate that your people are the authority on the subjects in which you talk/write/share. If you have the desire, you will find the methods you need.
3) And most importantly, you need to transform your company into a sales organization. I'm not talking about some sleazy Glen Gary Glen Ross type, but rather, an organization that has enough discipline and caring to monitor, track and nurture individual relationships - of both longtime customers and prospects. So you can listen and respond quickly, if needed, in the format desired by the customer.
These ideas are not new, nor are they tremendously difficult. However, in order to do them you have to stop doing some things, and you might need to significantly retrain or change some of your workforce.
Marketing is not a department. It is a mindset which needs to reside in all areas of a company, if you want to be successful.