Google “What is Marketing” and the results will be varying answers from business people, anonymously written blogs and even Wikipedia. Because most writers are trying to promote a certain idea, they all miss the mark. Marketing isn’t just a tactic employed to attract customers, nor is it simply finding what fits your customer. There is marketing and there are marketing tactics, and yes there is a difference. Marketing tactics are all the actions you take to attract customers and shouldn’t be confused with the broader definition of Marketing.
Marketing, in its truest sense, is developing such a deep knowledge of the industry (or market) that one is able to see trends and identify customer needs before the customer even knows that they need it.
If you are only focusing on what your next brochure is going to look like or what to post on social media you’re missing out on the power of Marketing. If you’re trying to fit your current product or service with your current customer base, you’re missing the mark for long-term strategic growth. If you just answered you really aren’t interested in strategic growth, you’re lying to yourself – if you’re in business you’re trying to stay in business, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. No one goes into business with the clear intent of losing money and closing the doors. What might be true is that you don’t know what long-term strategic growth is. So, what does that look like? Long-term strategic growth starts with thinking about being in business for more than the next 6 months and putting a plan in place of how to stay in business. It also means making decisions on that basis.
Marketing is a way of thinking and it combines brainstorming, strategy and innovation at its core.
Don’t have time for all this thinking? When you’re running late and your fuel tank is on “E” do you stop for a few minutes at the gas station? Most of you do because you know it will cost you even more time if you become stranded on the side of the road. In the same way take the few minutes to think about Marketing the same way, fill up before you run out . . . of customers.
Have you struggled with understanding your customer? Do you get frustrated because you don’t know what ‘new’ thing you can offer? Those stresses can be alleviated when you start thinking about Marketing as more than just an action item. If you really expect to see a return on investment from tactical marketing efforts you need to spend time thinking about Marketing, with a capital “M”, and that means getting out from behind your competition and forging your own path. Start by brainstorming and figuring out what is going to keep you in business three years from now, five years from now, and even ten years from now. Focus on your customer, what they buy, how they buy and why they buy. Then determine what can change any of those three factors. When you start thinking about things your customers aren’t yet anticipating, that leads to innovation. That’s called strategic thinking and is what really defines the word “Marketing”.
If you are looking to get started, read Got Marketing? Part II for an example of the power of brainstorming.