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  • Writer's picturePaul Hogendoorn

Marketing Done Right

In a recent blog, in which I expressed my view that “Marketing Manager” is just another title for “Accountant” (no offense intended to accountants!), I promised a follow up blog on what I believe makes for a great performing, high results achieving, company marketing approach.

But first, we must revisit a pivotal Peter Drucker quote: “The business enterprise has two –and only two– basic functions: marketing and innovation.” This is the middle of a larger quote, with the first and last sentences adding additional context and equally valuable insight.

The first sentence begins with “..the purpose of business is to create a customer…” and the final sentence sums up marketing as “the distinguishing, unique function of the business”.

If your director of marketing does not truly get that, and if he or she isn’t driven and motivated to make everyone in your organization aware of their daily pivotal role in the marketing and success of your organization, then perhaps a more administrative title (such as accountant, or clerk, or administrator) would be more appropriate.    

There’s far more to “marketing” than the traditionally understood sense of the word. To many, marketing is still thought of as driving the messages outward from the company with the hope of creating more attention for the company and its products and educating potential customers through various means to make your offering more valuable and important to them than your competitors. This only works though, when all the truly important things in the business are right - but if they are not right, all the marketing dollars you spend will make little, if any difference at all.

Marketing is more than outbound messaging and outbound focus. Marketing is everything.

Marketing is how you answer your phone calls; how you respond to your customers’ service calls; how your engineers listen to customers or salespeople and become “trusted advisors” more than technical and engineering “gatekeepers”; its how your invoices are written and sent, how your training is conducted, and what your people say to their friends and colleagues about not just their jobs, but their roles, the products they make, and the contribution their efforts make to the company’s customers’ success. If your company has all of this going for it, your company has a good chance of doing marketing well.

But there’s more to it than that.

Your customers’ (and prospective customers’) experiences with your company is of vital marketing importance, and your people and processes are critical to that - but that’s only half of it. The other half is your product. Your product or service – once the customer becomes aware of it – really needs to sell itself. If it doesn’t, you probably don’t have “product-market fit”, and that too is a marketing problem. In that case, someone is not listening to what their customers are telling them, but instead, they are spending great sums of time and money trying to tell the customer they should need and want to buy the product they are selling. Wrong. (Unless you are very rich or are content to try to create the perception of success).

Marketing is everything, and marketing is everyone.

If there is a single role in your organization designated as the champion and driver of your company’s marketing effort, it needs to be someone that understands that and can get everyone within the organization on board, as well as everything that needs to be done connecting and gaining the attention of your target customer audience. Marketing needs to be able to ‘lead’ engineering, to help them gain a better sense of what the customers will buy (rather than what engineering believes the customers should buy). Marketing should also ‘lead’ finance, administration, and even HR, because every role in the company has a marketing function, and everyone needs to understand that.

I sometimes encounter companies that seem to grow naturally and seemingly effortlessly. One such company I recently encountered told me they had zero salespeople and no defined marketing department. The product basically sold itself, with a bit of guidance by folks in the engineering and administration departments. Other companies I have encountered churn through salespeople complaining that “finding a good salesperson these days is almost impossible”, or others with salespeople whose complaint is “we don’t get any quality leads we can actually close”. To those companies, I’d challenge them to reconsider their over-all marketing approach, starting with “product-market fit”. Salespeople become guides and trusted advisors when everything else is in line, and sales are easily made.

With a good product, that meets the needs your customers are looking to fill, and a whole team that understands how their role and efforts impact the customer experience, “marketing” is easy, inexpensive, and very effective. Without product-market fit and without the whole team’s understanding of their responsibility in contributing to a positive customer experience, “marketing” is very expensive, very frustrating, and not likely to make much of a difference for the company.

When done right, marketing is everything and everyone. Its not "managed" or "directed", its cultivated. 

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