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What Makes Marketing Work…

7 Jan, 2013 By: Tim Votapka imageSource

Let’s start with, “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

When you look at this quote, you can’t help but admire the truth of it; and when the late Steve Jobs originated it for a Business Week interview (1998), he was referring to the overall structure and strategy that drove Apple Inc.’s resurgence in the computer business. I’m not here to present a retrospect on Apple’s ascension, rather, I point to it as a model for anyone in charge of marketing, because what Jobs said is true. In marketing you have to get your thinking clean to make it simple, and that’s a barrier many businesses struggle to overcome. They make marketing far too complex in thought, planning or execution, and as a result, accomplish very little in terms of gaining mind share or market share from their potential customer base.

So let’s take a look then at the fundamentals of marketing and use the following points in this article as sort of a “check sheet” against which you may compare your own programs and projects in the last year. We’ll preface that with two basic definitions (drawn from the successful Hubbard Management System).

Marketing: The conceiving & packaging and moving of a specific product into public hands. It means to prepare and take to and place on the market in such a way as to obtain maximum potential and recompense.

Promotion: To make something well known and well thought of. It means to send something out that will cause people to respond. By promotion we mean reach the public and create want.

These two terms are worth revisiting because they are the two most important aspects to a standard marketing program at any level of investment or magnitude. Notice that neither one says you have to spend vast sums of cash on ads or broadcast media placements. Promotion, for example, is a form of communication that allows your target audience to:

a. Know you exist

b. Understand what you have to offer

c. Rely on you as a resource for the products and services you provide

It’s a natural law in business that unless you are constantly communicating (outflowing) you cannot expect to be considered when a prospect realizes the need or desire for the services and products you provide. First off, you’re not the only game in town, and it’s an easy bet no other competitor is willing or ready to relinquish an order or contract to your dealership. Secondly, your best sales reps can only reach out and contact so many prospects. Promotion gets the reach and the exposure you need to even be considered a player in the game.

For example, a dealership in the New York area discovered this a few years ago when, for one reason or another, they let promotion slip through the cracks. The group had been doing reasonably well with a rather inconsistent outflow of fliers, direct mail pieces and so forth. However when business slowed down, it paid the price in terms of revenue. After evaluating many options, including spot buys in local and regional business media, the dealership started distributing two direct mail promo pieces to its prospect base four times a year. The total circulation, or as we say the “number of touches” per flight was 6,000 based on the number of identities collected over time. Obviously that circulation far exceeded the maximum number of contacts the company’s field sales force could ever reach. Yet that was key; the circulation and visibility were high and there was frequency of message via direct mail which was a far more cost-effective channel of communication than print advertising was.

Statistically, the dealership’s sales doubled when compared to the same stats generated prior to the program’s inception. The concepts and graphics used in the promotion were drawn from survey data. The graphics were impinging and the concepts were very easy to get from just a quick glance. And perhaps most important of all, the promo was done with regularity and frequency.

This example covers some of the basics of marketing I try to get across to managers throughout the B2B world. You need to understand that marketing isn’t simply advertising, or that PR is simply getting an ad placed in an annual directory. These are just tactics and pieces to a much larger engine called strategic marketing.

Follow some basics:

1. Be a professional in anything you do.

2. Survey the public and any product; competitors (do your homework).

3. Be familiar with the promotional PR your company is currently following.

4. Know your product thoroughly; establish use for each product.

5. Direct people’s attention (graphics, color, wording, ad placement).

6. Be clear-cut; comprehensible (don’t’ be complex).

7. Use call-to-action (tell people how they can get it or find it.)

8. Create want!

These points assume your marketing program has been driven by goal-oriented strategy and not just by tactics. Many highly talented, very creative people can conceive or design attractive brochures or advertisements with award-winning quality. However if the piece doesn’t push the “buttons” that will cause people to respond, it’s off the mark. That’s why surveying is so crucial in marketing.

I wish I could say that this method is the standard way marketing programs and campaigns get underway in business. However, too many businesses tend to get into a “coping” mode in an effort to keep the business moving forward yet good, focused marketing often takes a back seat. If that’s your case, you have a camouflaged hole to fill whether you assign it to someone in house or work hand-in-hand with an outside professional who knows strategic marketing that can assist you in keeping it “targeted, clean, comprehensible and intended on purpose.”

Apple does marketing very well, and yes, the company has the financial wherewithal to run some very attractive campaigns. Yet that ideology blossomed because the organization followed what Steve Jobs insisted on: design and branding to remain clean and simplified. Consumers know what they can get from Apple products. And the company has moved mountains in terms of marketing, big time. You can, too. Simplifying on any level is possible, if done with purpose and skill. If you need assistance get it; before the competition takes a few more customers into its camp.

About the Author: Tim Votapka

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