Why Marketing? (for non-marketers)

Most of the content on marketing available to all of us in some form or another on the web is aimed at marketers. That’s understandable, as marketers have already self-identified as being interested in marketing.

We want the tips and tricks, the tried and true strategies that can help us grow and be better at our jobs.

But not all marketing content is, or should be, aimed at marketers. The truth is, marketing is a terribly important area of study for almost all of us, no matter our intended profession.

Is it clear why that is?

Marketing involves advertising, selling, brand building, promotion, and a large number of other activities traditionally thought-of in a business setting. But almost all of those activities can have applications in other fields.

So of course, if you’re a small business owner or self-employed professional, you need to know how to market the goods and services you’re providing. This includes artists, if you want to earn a living doing what you love.

Then there is a whole group of people who work for others, not in a marketing function, who need to know how to market their abilities to current and potential employers.

And while it may not be settling to think about in such a way, we all want to know how to market ourselves to potential mates, friends, and professional networks.

Each person is a brand, in a way. And much of what we do is meant to shape and build that brand in some way or another. We work out to be healthier, but also to look better. We join clubs and pick up hobbies to pursue our passions, and also to signal to others what we’re interested in.

Not all marketing content will apply to non-marketers. For example, my recent post on marketing personas probably holds no interest to you if you’re not a marketer. But it is crucial for all of us to have at least some knowledge of how to sell and how to build a brand.

Marketing is a Scam

There are a lot of scams out there. One of the largest, yet least talked-about scam of them all is the entire field of marketing.

Marketers are all scammers, greedy folks out to convince people to spend money on things they don’t need for reasons they don’t understand, all to increase the revenues of their respective companies, and, in turn, line their own pockets.

It’s a dirty, dirty business. We spend billions of dollars every year to reach consumers like you – on your television, phone, computer, commute, newspaper, magazines. We pay other people to promote our products so that it sounds like you’re just getting a recommendation from a friend. We pay for your personal information so we can learn more about you and find new, sneakier ways to get our message across.

If our products were any good, you would hear about them or find them yourself. You don’t need us to tell you about them. We have no incentive to tell you the truth. Our only incentive is to get you to buy, to give us your money.

Marketing is a scam. Right?

Here’s the part where I tell you I’m just having a little fun. That I’m just kidding and marketers are all honest, thoughtful people. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Most of what I said above has some truth to it.

This isn’t a manifesto. This isn’t me blowing the whistle on my field. This is a call to arms.

It’s time for marketers and companies the world over to put in a little more effort. Make your products great. Treat your customers well. Sell in an honest way.

And it’s time for consumers to reward those companies with your business, and to punish the ones who don’t evolve by leaving them behind.

Not all companies can be great companies. Not all marketers can be great marketers. But we must, all of us, strive to be better.

Marketing is not a scam. But it’s seen that way by a lot of people, both inside and outside the profession. It is in our power to change that.

Underrated Series – A Look Back

Over the last nine weeks, we took a look at some of the most underrated components of marketing strategy, the things that companies and marketers alike tend to ignore or undervalue in their quest for success.

Sadly, the weekly blog series has come to an end. But I wanted to provide one last chance to review the series as a whole.

Here are all nine parts, in order:

Are You Using Marketing Personas?

If you are a marketer or small business owner, you likely have a sense of who is buying what you’re selling. If you don’t, you have bigger problems.

In the past, we have referred to this group of people as your target market. They are the consumers most likely to shop with you, the ones that you “target” with your advertising and marketing efforts.

For a local bakery, this might be adults and families in a 10 mile radius. For an online college, this may be adult learners who wish to go back to school and get their degree.

But as you can see from both examples above, the target market likely includes a wide variety of different people. That’s where marketing (or buyer) personas come in.

The marketing community realized that generalizing about their target market, trying to create strategies that apply equally to the broadest swath of people, wasn’t the right approach. A better one would be dividing that group up into sub-groups, based on different demographic or psychographic qualities that they share.

Using our examples above, the bakery might divide their market up by age and gender, or cake buyers and bread buyers. The online college might divider their market up by physical location, degree or job type.

Doing this allows the company to develop marketing strategies that are more directly targeted at individuals within the larger group.

Then, to make these groups feel more real, we assign names to them. We create a “persona”, a profile of a customer that most accurately represents the real people in that group.

So instead of your bakery marketing to “young moms”, you market to Jennifer. And instead of your college marketing to “technical careers in California”, you market to Dave.

These personas are representations of customers that help your team develop strategies that relate to them as real people, and not just some vague group of consumers in your target market.

Are you using marketing personas? If not, you should be.

Underrated Series – Part 9

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, The Underrated Series. Each week, we will highlight an important, often underrated component of marketing success.

Last week’s underrated topic was pricing.

What are we underrating this week? Competitors.

As marketers, the time we spend paying attention to our competitors varies. For some, working in more competitive industries, we’re constantly watching what they do. For others, where direct competition is not as fierce, we might ignore them completely.

But competitive analysis doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves in the marketing community.

Why? Because good competitive analysis is hard. And we tend to focus on things that come easier.

But, good competitive analysis also has benefits that many marketers are not aware of.

Think about the competitive landscape from the viewpoint of your potential customers. They have a want or a need that you can solve. But in addition to you, there might be 2, 5, or 10 other companies that can also solve their problem. So they have a choice to make. What company to purchase from?

Only by knowing, truly knowing, what your competitors are offering and how they’re offering it, can you determine what it is that makes you different, and why consumers should choose you over them. That is the very basis of your marketing efforts. Everything you do should be based on what unique value that your company offers.

And you can’t just do it once and forget about it. Because your competitors change. They change their pricing and offers. They change their products. They change their messaging. And even your competitors themselves change, some companies go out of business or change strategies, and new companies come into the marketplace.

So regular competitive analysis is a crucial component of marketing success.

Have something you think deserves more attention? Send us your suggestions for the Underrated Series using the comments below or submit them here.