My wife and I had dinner with a couple we know not long ago and during the meal, the topic shifted to our respective jobs. The folks we were with are both successful business people; he runs a small business, she’s an operations executive. And both talked about how successful their respective companies performed, “without marketing.”
There’s no such thing. If you’re selling to a customer, by definition, you’re marketing. But maybe you don’t realize it. Let’s take a look at what I mean.
Many of you probably have heard of “the 4 P’s of marketing.” But in case you haven’t, take a quick look:
- Product. What you offer your customers.
- Pricing. What you charge for that offering.
- Place. Where you sell your offering.
- Promotion. How your customers find out about it.
Each of these comprises one component of successful marketing.
Unfortunately, many people—including my dinner guests that night—substitute “marketing” when they mean “promotion.” And there’s no doubt promotion contributes significantly to marketing. But it’s far from the whole enchilada.
When you’re listening to customers to improve your products and services, you’re marketing. If you’re looking at how to increase revenues, you’re marketing. When you negotiate distribution deals, partnerships or sign new sales channels, you’re marketing. And, yes, when you’re improving your SEO, paid search, social media or email campaigns, you’re marketing, too.
But if you look at the most successful companies, their whole process revolves around such tight integration that the trees disappear into the forest. And that’s a good thing.
- Apple does a great job of building products people want, offering them through appropriate channels and promoting them effectively. Yes, many people remember the dancing silhouettes of the old iPod campaigns, but it was the “1,000 songs in your pocket” benefit statement (a product concept) that sold the device most effectively. My colleague Frank Reed is right when he suggests that Apple’s latest promotional techniques may have oversold the product. But, let’s face it, commercials aren’t what sold 3 million new iPads or 4 million iPhone 4S’s in their first weekends on the market.
- Amazon provides free shipping to “Prime” members (price), one-click checkout (place), and the second-best selling tablet on the market (product) to its customers. And, yes, the company ranks very well for many searches and has robust paid search, email and remarketing programs in its arsenal.
- I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an ad (paid or otherwise) for Facebook. Clearly the social media giant ranks exceedingly well in natural search. And they’ve got social media marketing down to an art form (c’mon, how did you first hear about Facebook?) But you also heard about it because the company relentlessly innovates its basic product offering, continuing to provide its users with “the place to be” among social sites. And, as a consumer, its tough to beat their pricing.
Our fearless leader around here recently highlighted the dangers of “tricky marketing claims” and he couldn’t be more right. A snazzy advertising claim will only take you so far. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of worrying about fooling people with a claim in its advertising, someone actually innovated the insurance product itself? After all, there’s an old saying among advertising types that says,
“When it’s too hard to write the ad, fix the product.”
So, if you’re not thrilled with your business results lately, aren’t seeing the conversion rates you’d really like to, or don’t have such satisfied customers any more, maybe the problem is that you’re doing too much advertising—and not nearly enough marketing.