October 24, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

The circus explains marketing: How to make marketing work for you

Ron Stein | 7/7/2014

Marketing is misunderstood. Ask ten people to define marketing and expect to get ten different answers. Your view will no doubt be different altogether. Maybe you even think that marketing is overrated.

Too often marketing is perceived simply as advertising, snazzy logos, or brochure creation. Some people quickly say the primary task is generating leads to dump into to the sale funnel. Others, zero in on public relations and branding.

Mostly, it’s all over the map with a far too heavy emphasis on tactics. And, when the potential return on an investment isn’t clearly understood, why spend the money?

This causes a sort of hostility to spending money on marketing beyond the basics, if that. No wonder businesses say they can’t afford it or many times relegate marketing to a marginalized role.

My take -- you can’t afford to ignore marketing.

If you do, you’ll never grow your business. Or worse, you’ll risk sliding backwards. I think this hostility comes from a lack of understanding of what marketing can achieve for a business.

The days of companies focused on changing customers’ minds to fit their product are long over. With so many competitors and almost unlimited customer choice, smart companies have discovered marketing as the way to break out of the crowded pack.

So, what exactly is marketing? One thing for sure, it is multi-faceted. The more important question is how can it help you?

That’s the rub for most organizations. Business owners think that there are too many moving pieces and can’t see how they all come together to produce real results. Whether it’s market research, segmentation, message development, advertising, promotion, product training materials, or lead generation and relationship nurturing programs -- it becomes a blur that turns into a burden.

It’s easy to see why a small business would think they couldn’t do all of that. Yet, it’s essential to understand why it’s important to have a strategy, plan of action, and process that scales the marketing function and effort to the size of the company and it’s marketplace.

The circus explains marketing. P.T. Barnum, the American showman and businessman who made the circus what it is today said, “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,’ that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flower bed, that's publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. If the town's citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they'll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that's sales.” You can see what he did was much more than a collection of tactics. Barnum understood what people wanted and how to deliver it to them. He then marshaled all of the resources available to nurture the forces of supply and demand.

The ultimate purpose of marketing. Whatever you believe the fundamental aim of marketing is, it’s probably not what you think. The goal of marketing is to reduce the risk to your organization and maximize customer lifetime value in a way that grows your business. To do that you need to understand the market you’ve decided to play in, know where you fit, create a product or service people actually want, develop strategies that differentiates and places your company in front the right audience, take the actions that tells your story and creates relationships, make buying easy, and track what works and what doesn’t so you can build a company that customers love to do business with. It’s not as complex as you thought!

Strategy, action plan, process. Some might argue that the most important part of marketing is getting out of our offices and taking action. That’s a critical piece of course, but a tactically driven approach that is only one of the three pillars of marketing. Let’s be blunt here, without a great strategy foundation and systems to implement and measure the plan, a tactics focused attitude falls apart quickly. When that happens, it’s all too easy to blame marketing as too expensive and ineffective. Too bad, because the company that thinks this way just digs their revenue hole deeper. Understand the three pillars of marketing. If you or anyone on your or team doesn’t know where to start or what to do, take a practical hands-on course, bring in a marketing coach, or hire the right person. If you’re a solo business owner or large company -- develop a “marketing is everything” culture.

Marketing is a business function that’s central to your company’s strategy and should be embedded in all activities. Without marketing there is no understanding of how to develop your market and no blueprint on how to make sales happen.

Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that marketing is overrated. Set a solid strategy, create a plan of action based on your strategy, and put effective systems in place to turn your vision and plan into success.

Marketing is everything -- do you agree?


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com) and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

Comments

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Florida Orchestra's Michael Francis
Florida Orchestra's Michael Francis

Florida Orchestra's Michael Francis talks making music and a home.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

How much do you get into Halloween?

  • I'm into it - parties, decorating, theme parks, whatever I can fit in
  • I just participate for the kids
  • Boo - I keep the lights off to avoid trick-or-treaters

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe