Let me be clear – marketing is not an isolated entity in your business. Decisions you make about your company will directly affect your marketing and how successful it can be.
This means you need to understand your business and how it works before you spend anything on marketing, and that’s what we’ll delve into in the focus section.
Marketing Strategy Early Prevents Wasted Spend
The majority of my work as a marketing consultant should be going into a newly formed business before they start a marketing plan and helping them build a strategy. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.
I once worked with a company that had spent over £30,000 on marketing material such as case studies, leaflets, brochures and a website. That’s a lot to spend on materials in any case, but especially since they had no focus or strategy.
Once we had sat down and workshopped both of these, they and I realised none of the work done so far was going to entice their target market to work with them. They had just wasted a new car’s worth of money. And what was worse, they would have to produce new materials with only a fraction of their budget remaining.
Marketing Is Not An Expense
There is a common misconception that marketing is an expense like buying pens and has no tangible benefit.
Now, as someone who has worked in marketing for 12 years and written a book on the subject, you won’t be surprised if I defend the field and push its virtues. So I won’t give you a pitch on the importance of marketing (Just ask me for a free copy of the book).
Instead, I’ll switch the question around. Don’t ask how important marketing is to your business, ask how important business is to your marketing.
Imagine trying to sell a piece of technology to someone, but you aren’t quite sure what it does. By treating marketing as a separate entity, and not understanding that your business IS your marketing, you are selling a mystery box. And no one likes mystery boxes.
If your business relies on customers to buy services or products, then they need to feel comfortable buying from you. With budgets tightening and confidence falling, it’s more important than ever to understand what and how your target market thinks. A customer who is confused, angry or unsure will not buy.
Marketing Starts Before You Meet Your Customer
Their journey starts before you even know they are a potential customer. They will interact with your company and its branding before you are aware they exist, whether it be through an article in a magazine, your website, social media or any other form of marketing. And they are already making decisions about you. Marketing is what you do to influence that decision-making process, but it’s also what your business is to your customers. They don’t get to attend board meetings and see your company vision. Again, marketing IS your business.
It can help your whole business position itself in a way that intrigues and attracts. But if thoughtful, targeted marketing is not at the heart of your business plan, your customers simply won’t know about you.