If you tried marketing in the past and it didn’t work, it’s very possible you did it wrong because, when done correctly, marketing works. I know business owners who spent a fortune on something they called marketing, and after it failed, they vowed not to do any more marketing in the future. Even successful companies like Radio Shack and JC Penney have created marketing plans that failed because they tried to present something they are not, or ignored the trends and expectations of their market.
Our Renaissance Executive Forums Peer Advisory Groups here in DFW spent a full day diving into the concepts of proven marketing principles. As the Business Owner or CEO of your company, you need to consider how you invest in marketing to reach your goals.
“Marketing is the ability to align all your existing resources around a clear and compelling vision.”
Simply put, Marketing is the ability to align all your existing resources around a clear and compelling vision. Let me explain this.
Alignment requires that EVERYONE in your company be going in the same direction. It doesn’t mean that everyone sees things the same way. It means they filter things through the lens of who you are (or are committed to be), so everyone is headed in the same direction.
Alignment lets your team anticipate and quickly react to issues to resolve them in a timely manner. This allows them to know where the company is going and be proactive in finding new opportunities, avoiding conflicts and resolving issues quickly without having to ask you for everything. The synergistic effect of people aligned in the same direction makes every action that much more productive. Contrast this with the results of people moving in different directions trying to do what THEY think makes sense.
Alignment also means you don’t chase random opportunities that are not part of the vision for your company. Choose clients in the markets you want to serve and offer the products and services they want. Keep the team focused in the same direction and you will see great results.
You may not have the budget to run ads in the Super Bowl, but there are lots of creative marketing efforts you can use to reach your goals. One fun example was when the CEO of Mini challenged Porsche to a race. The video was created using a simple Flip camera and posted to YouTube, and had fantastic results. (Click the photo to see the video.)
Think about it this way, when a company decides to buy a new manufacturing machine, they create a pro-forma to show how many units they will need to manufacture over what time period to pay for the machine. Marketing should have the same ROI, or don’t do it! Coca Cola can afford to spend money to build brand, but the rest of us should expect a measurable return on every marketing effort in which we invest.
Too many companies throw money at “marketing stuff” that is not the BEST marketing choice. Don’t just do something because everyone is doing it or someone else had great results with it. Take time to understand your particular market, current trends, your product’s life-cycle, your competition, new technologies to reach your customers, as well as your budget and time constraints. Start with a great strategy, and find service providers to help you get the most out of what you have. This is where your vision is key.
Clear and Compelling Vision.
Simon Sinek has done a great job opening the eyes of some business leaders to the need for a “Why” in our business. A clear vision reduces internal battles that most companies have as people jockey to defend their position, instead of pulling the troops together to conquer the market. Your job as the CEO, Business Owner or President is to create a clear and compelling vision for your company so everyone is on the same page and pulling together to win.
Your company’s culture is a powerful marketing tool. If you’ve ever called Zappos to order something, you know what I’m talking about. Zappos’ vision for their company led them to create processes and teams that treat their customers in a way that creates “Brand Evangelists” who cannot wait to tell others about Zappos. (Click the photo to read an article about the value of strong cultures like Zappos.)
Marketing should be a part of your plans from day one. Don’t build something and then decide how to market it. Marketing research can be as simple as talking with customers, searching on Google, asking your sales team for guidance or doing a face-to-face event. This can help you decide what you will sell, to whom, through what channel and at what price. Bring in your marketing team as you start to fine-tune your company’s vision. Let them help communicate this to your internal team first, and the market second. If everyone in your company understands and is passionate about your vision, they will not let down the market as they interact with them.
Marketing Can’t Cover Up For You.
Do you remember Ford trying to convince us that “Quality is Job One,” while their cars didn’t drive well? You can try all you want to convince the world you are a loving, caring company, but if your employees hate their job and pass this attitude to your customers, no one will buy this. (I highly suggest you read the book Raving Fans and learn how your vision affects the way your team delivers excellent Customer Service.)
Don’t expect Marketing to make you look like something you are not. Instead, create a vision of your company that your team can follow with a passion. Then teach, train, and model this internally so every person and touch point is living out this vision. Once you own this, take your vision to the market and they will beat your doors down. At this point, the marketing team is charged with finding creative ways to share your story, not create one to cover up who you really are. (I also recommend the book What Great Brand Do by Denise Lee.)
Start today by evaluating all you are doing, applying what you know and learning more as you go. Use what you have today, and commit to invest more as you achieve success with various marketing activities. If you need help to do this right I would be glad to meet with you and talk about your options. Start with what you have, and align all your resources behind a clear and compelling vision to reach your goals.
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