How-To Articles

Tagged in Research

How To Actually Generate Customers On Professional Networks: Part 1

Asked by Julbert Abraham from AGM - LinkedIn Marketing & LinkedIn Training

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If you're wondering if you can get clients from a professional network such as LinkedIn or Alignable (or any... Read Full Answer

Data & Insights

Tagged in Sales & Promotions

10 Actually Actionable Benefits Of List Building

Asked by Juan Manuel Colome from Top Response Marketing

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What is List Building all about?

List building refers to a continuous process of adding new and updated subscribers to your list.... Read Full Answer

Local Business Stories

Tagged in Local

Celebrating Small And Locally-owned Businesses With Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand

Asked by Alan Belniak from Alignable

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Today's special edition of the Local Business Stories by Alignable podcast highlights... Read Full Answer

Hey Small Business...What Is This Thing Called Marketing?

By Guy Stasik · Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017 · Tagged in General Discussion



Marketing is a lot more than running ads and posting on social media.

Marketing (as defined by dictionary.com)

noun

1.the act of buying or selling in a market.

2.the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

With definitions like these, it's no wonder so many small business owners find the concept of marketing confusing, because it is so much more than advertisements, websites and social media posts. Where does it begin? When does it end? And most importantly, what is it going to cost? These concerns - unanswered - can cripple the growth of any brand or business. So let's start at the beginning…

How should small business define marketing?

Well, in the real world it's not a noun, it's really a verb; a continual process by which your business positions itself for success. If that sounds elusive it's because marketing is something that can affect every aspect of the business: Sometimes it's a driver, sometimes merely a support. From the way you relate to your staff, to how your sales teams operate (through the sales cycle) all the way down to packaging, messaging, social media and customer service, if you haven't run it through a marketing process, you could really be hurting your business.

A marketing process is simply a way of looking at things. It's asking a lot of questions and trying not to guess at the answers. It's marketing because every employee needs to recognize value in your brand, your company. If they don't, they won't further your mission. Whether your small businesses has 5 employees or 500, the topics below apply. Obviously you can't do everything but these are examples of areas where you can apply a marketing process and see some positive outcomes.

Staff: Maturing and retaining talented employees is important for any business but critical for small businesses. It is not all about the salary to employees. Understanding 'them' and having them understand 'you' is not only important, it's a key component to building your brand. Because if your employees aren't on board with your mission, they will never be brand ambassadors for your company. Marketing plays a role here because it bridges the understanding gap (sometimes referred to as Internal Marketing). Our verb, 'marketing' reaches out to all parties and helps frame positive dialogue that moves the company mission forward. In larger companies, HR departments are typically charged with this task, but those HR departments often work directly with marketing teams to help create an environment that is best suited toward employee well being.

Example: Many small businesses try to have some type of employee appreciation event; be it a barbecue, a trip to a sporting event, a birthday celebration etc.. Marketing asks the questions: What is the make-up of our staff? What is the desired result of this event? Why does this benefit our employees? How can we make it awesome?

These simple questions begin a torrent of thought and consideration that will manifest itself in a successful outcome. And if you can't handle it all yourself, many marketing firms are more than happy to organize and manage the process for you. All you have to do is ask.

Business Development: It doesn't matter if you have a team or a single sales person, if you don't inject marketing directly into the sales process, you will fail. This is not open to interpretation either, you will fail. Whether or not you have a marketing professional on hand, the subject of 'how to sell' needs to be a collaborative effort. You need to ask the right questions and you need real answers to those questions before you get in front of a prospective customer.

Marketing's function in this process is to ask those questions - to both leadership and sales and then compare results against market research (which you should be doing regularly). What gets spit out is a strategy and the suggested tools to accomplish your stated goals.

Example: Sales teams are selling your service to a new territory. Our verb, 'marketing' once again jumps into action and begins asking a lot of questions to various players in the sales process. It also looks at the territory and provides market research to better understand the consumer base and competitive landscape. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) are determined. All of that information is compiled into a strategy, which marketing then helps to manage. Why? Because marketing has the fifty thousand foot view and is not unduly influenced by deep knowledge in any particular aspect of the sales process.

Compare that process against a business that briefly trains a sales person, hands them some brochures, leads and sends them out into the new territory. Which process has a better chance for success?


Customer Retention: The goal is not to make one sale to one customer, the goal is to make many sales to many customers, over and over again. Sales does their job by getting someone to buy what you're selling. Marketing is there to keep the sales pipeline open, create new opportunity and extend the sales stream with existing customers. Asking sales to perform this function is only preventing them from bringing in new business.

Example: Your business is now offering a new service to compliment an existing service. Once again our verb, 'marketing' jumps into action and creates a strategy to reach out to existing customers with the goal of generating interest in the new offering. Whether it's email contact, a social media campaign, a personal call or even a direct mail piece, marketing leads the charge to upsell existing customers. Sales can concentrate on new business. Leadership watches the bottom line improve.

Cost: Next to ego, cost is the number one reason companies don't utilize marketing in effective ways. They either don't understand where to put the dollars or they think that "marketing" is way too expensive or they suffer from the belief that their service or product is so good, it should sell itself (an all too common problem).

From a cost perspective, the issue is scale. If you start looking at all of the ways you can spend dollars to get messaging out, you can burn through a budget amazingly fast. Slow down, look at the available dollars and your target audience first so you can start from a realistic place. If you don't have a marketing professional in the building, hire one as a consultant to come in and advise you. Even if all they do is provide some insight and direction, at least you have an educated guess where to put those available dollars.

Wrapping it up: Marketing should be considered a hard cost (line item) for any business. Just like employees, supplies and services are necessary to run a business, marketing is necessary for the overall health of your business. As you can see, when you look at marketing as a process and not a line item, positive outcomes are likely. Truth is, there is a lot of marketing you can do that doesn't cost you anything but time.

Was this helpful? Share it! Have a question? Ask it below.

John Maurice ✯ Digital Marketing Strategist from Crushtopia
0 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Friday, September 8, 2017

Quick read with some excellent points! Loved your thoughts about marketing being a verb, an ongoing process.

As a marketer, I strongly agree that not enough small businesses put efforts into effective marketing. When consulting with clients, we always discuss ROI. Yes, there are plenty of marketing methods that are no cost - but often they take time to implement, dial in, and see results from.

When you start treating your marketing budget as as an investment (not just an expense), it forces you to be more deliberate about your approach. That which can be... (more)

Ben Martin from Spectre Commercial Strategy
0 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, September 6, 2017

This is a very helpful and informative article. I fully agree that many business owners fail to grasp the role of a marketer for their business. Marketing is more than just growing a business. It's a process which includes strategy and implementation. How does a business grow if the owner does not understand the role of their marketing team?

Marketing is a process which involves brand awareness, product awareness, and showcasing how that brand and its product are going to benefit the target audience. The message is lost if a marketer only posts mundane and... (more)

Maury Kosh from The Performance Based Marketing Group
36 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In your Wrapping it up you say... "Marketing should be considered a hard cost. Truth is, there is a lot of marketing you can do that doesn't cost you anything but time."

I do not agree with these 2 statements..

Bad marketing is a hard cost because it has no return on investment..

Marketing done well has a positive ROI, so in essence it is free....

I would hope that a business owners values their time.. Lets give the business owner a arbitrary billable cost of $150 per hour.. Ideally every hour you spend on your business would be billable..

So if the business... (more)


Guy Stasik from PushPull Creative Communicating
3 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thanks for the input Maury. Of course I agree time is money. The 'time' reference was more tongue and cheek than anything but you are right to call me out on it. As for good marketing vs bad marketing, all I can say is the majority of company's I've dealt with in my career believed they had good marketing. Most of them didn't and some were just downright atrocious. I just don't recall any of them doing a specific ROI comparison to revenue where only marketing was concerned. There are simply too many other components to the sales process to accurately reflect... (more)


Maury Kosh from The Performance Based Marketing Group
36 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Really no one did a specific ROI comparison to revenue where only marketing was concerned?

How the heck does one know what is working and what is not?

I measure everything.. Split test, use unique tracking numbers in all my efforts so I can track what is working and cut out what is not...

Ralf Bieler from Multiple Funding Solutions, Inc. (MFS)
3 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Marketing2

My old boss (president of a Fortune 100 company) said this: "Marketing is not just the job of a few in our marketing department. It's the daily job of everyone who works for us, no matter where or in which function."

I say: "Anything that anyone can see, hear, or feel about your brand/product/company has a marketing effect. And anything that anyone can see, hear, or feel is the result of some form of communication. Therefore, marketing is all about communication."

And finally - beyond philosophy...


Best wishes and successful marketing,

Ralf

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