Business owners continuously grapple to explain marketing for company growth. The reason for the challenge is simple. Digital marketing and marketing principles change at an ever-increasing—and sometimes maddening—rate.
Problem: Because of the rapid changes in digital space, leaders struggle to stay on top of the latest ideas. Often, this causes frustration.
Opportunity: Despite what it might seem, it's easy to define marketing. All you have to do is get past all of the industry jargon. And, yes, you could even explain it to your mom—or dad.
Resolution: In short, the core ideas of marketing remain the same. For instance, you want to influence leads and customers to buy your products or services. It’s really that simple. The rest of it builds atop that fundamental idea.
Marketing is a broad term. It can mean different things to different people, especially in the information era. So, how do you define it to your team, investors, and partners? The fact is, you can never explain it clearly enough because it evolves. But the best way to define marketing is to use the 5 W's and 1 H.
Understanding marketing requires you to think about it from several different angles. Fundamentally, it’s about people, which means you need to understand your audience. Get to know your customers and understand their needs and desires. Once you know who your customers are and what they want, you can master marketing—no matter the definition.
What is Marketing?
The concept of marketing is not new. In fact, it’s been around for millennia. Merchants and business owners realized that they wanted to influence people to buy their products. And so, for generations, people practiced influencing to help them differentiate their products from competitors. The more modern and systemic approach to marketing dates back to the late 19th century. And the study of it as an academic discipline began in the 20th century.
In essence, marketing is creating, communicating, and delivering a message to sell or promote a product or service. Because of technology, modern professionals use digital technologies and traditional approaches to develop profitable long-term relationships with customers. Marketing experts seek to identify pain points with leads and customers. And then work to create a nexus point for how their brand's product or service could meet those needs.
How Marketing Works?
Marketing is an investment, and it's essential to get the most out of your investment. If you want people to buy your product or service, you have to make sure they know about it. It's also vital to ensure people understand what your company stands for and what distinguishes it from the competition. This is where a well-planned marketing strategy comes in handy.
Marketing is one of the essential skills for any business, big or small, local or online, and across every sector. At a time of decreased brand loyalty and fierce competition, no brand could take the foot off the gas pedal of marketing. Further, companies need to make the necessary investments in marketing.
All you have to do is look at the recent challenges for Netflix, some of which have to do with customer choice and reasoning they're not getting what they want from the platform. The reality is that Netflix was the marketing leader for years after going all-in on streaming. However, other companies have taken the luster from Netflix, and now it struggles.
How Does Digital Marketing Work?
Digital marketing uses the internet and other platforms for advertising, CRM, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), content creation and distribution, emails, and customer data management. Digital also refers to techniques used by businesses to reach their audiences. For example, a digital marketing plan may include emailing leads generated through web forms or sending regular e-newsletters with links directing readers back to a website.
In general, digital marketing allows companies to better targeting of consumers. And it enables them greater communications flexibility due to higher levels of interactivity online. But it could also include creating a digital online community off of social media. Fortunately, all of it now gets measured with powerful tools. For instance, platforms such as HubSpot make it easy to measure the ROI of your investment in marketing.
Why You Should Care About Marketing?
Marketing is the process of bringing your product or service to potential customers in a way that encourages them to make a purchase. You might think marketing is just about advertising or social media. Nope! It's so much more than that! Marketing encompasses the entire customer journey. It goes from identifying the right audience for your product or service to delivering content and following up with them.
Marketing is essential because it helps you identify your ideal customer and what they want. It lets you figure out how best to deliver your message to get customers interested in buying what you sell. In an age where data and analytics are kings, marketing helps businesses distinguish themselves from competitors through message and target audience. And that’s why it’s vital to invest in a streamlined tech stack that’s wholly integrated.
In marketing, the ‘who’ is the first W. It’s the most important W. It’s vital to personalize your efforts to fit your audience better. You need to tailor your marketing to the needs of your customers. This means that when people see your brand, they should think—that’s for me. So, you need to know to whom you sell. It also means that you need to conduct market research before you do anything else. In sum, you need to understand your customer persona.
Next, you need to know what you sell. This is the ‘what’ of marketing. What are your products or services? What do your customers get from you? Take the time to understand what your products or services do for your customers. This helps you tailor your marketing to fit the needs of your customers. Remember, it's not about what you think your customer needs. It's vital to know what they believe and want from your brand.
The ‘when’ of marketing is all about your customer’s schedule. For instance, when do they usually purchase? When do they visit your competitors? When do they visit your competitors? Before the tech age, it wasn't easy to obtain this kind of detailed information. However, those times fell away to immense troves of data. Companies now benefit from algorithms doing the work that once was impossible, providing actionable metrics.
The ‘where’ of marketing is all about your customer’s location. So, where do your customers live? Where do they work? Where do they shop? Marketing to the location of your customers is crucial. Perhaps as a multi-national, your customers exist in various nations. But, even as a national company, you need to know where your leads and customers congregate. For example, for B2Bs, you might find LinkedIn and a referral program ideal for your efforts.
You need to know ‘why’ your customers buy from you. If a customer doesn't have a good reason to purchase from you, they won't. So, it’s vital to understand why your customers buy your products or services? What difference does it make to them? Why should they choose to purchase from you instead of your competitors? This information informs your marketing, customer experience, and marketing. One of the best ways to obtain these insights is simply to poll and survey and dig deep with your customers so you can improve.
The ‘how’ of marketing is all about how you bring your ideas to life. Therefore, how do your customers experience your products or services? How do you deliver them? You can never truly understand the concept unless you know how your products or services get provided to your customers. Understanding the how is crucial because it gives you the tools to approach marketing practically.
In sum, no strategy applies to every company. And there’s no one ‘correct’ way to do marketing. Every business is different and requires a different approach. However, understanding the fundamental concepts and ideas help you explain marketing to anyone. Moreover, it allows you to have informed discussions with professionals on your team.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.