I spend a lot of time in this column talking about branding, social media, and marketing. I also try to share the message that every company has a story to tell. It is our job as marketing professionals to create that story, make it an alluring and attractive, and get it in front of the right people. Doing that the right way will help your company be found and known and will make the job of your sales team much easier. But there is still so much confusion about what marketing is that it's time to clear the air by describing what marketing is not.
Marketing is not a miracle solution that will automatically bring you sales. It’s part of a complete mosaic made up of a combination of great products, great customer service, a great story, a great strategy, great sales tactics, and a great sales team. All of these are tiles in the mosaic of a great company. If you tell me that you placed one ad once and got nothing out of it, you don’t know what marketing is. If you tell me that you sent out three short sales flashes and did not get a single order, because the phone did not even ring once, you don’t know what marketing is. And if you tell me that you don’t need salespeople because you have a good marketing plan, or that you don’t need marketing because you have great salespeople, you don’t know what marketing is.
Marketing is tedious and repetitive. If you only send a message out once, you don’t know what marketing is. If you tell me that you’ve been saying the same thing in your ads for three months and you want a new message, you don’t know what marketing is. If you are afraid that people are going to be bothered by your ads, you don’t know what marketing is.
How many people liked Mr. Whipple and his Charmin? No one, except Charmin, which became the number one toilet paper in America because of that old grouch. How about the “ring around the collar” campaign that made Wisk the number one brand for a time? When they stopped the ad, their sales hit bottom. I’m not saying that your advertising must be as tedious and annoying as those commercials, but they must be memorable.
To do that, people need to see your ads a few times before they sink in—just how many times is a subject of great debate. I have read that you must hear, read, and watch an ad at least 15 times before it will sink in. Your ad messaging should be simple, clear, concise, and memorable. Remember that just because you’re sick of your ad does not mean that you should pull it; you are not your customer.
Finally, marketing is not something you can live without. You need marketing if you are going to have a successful business, grow your business. You need your business to be found. If customers don’t know who you are, what you do, and how you do it, then they are never going to buy from you. Marketing moves the world, makes your company stand out, and creates greatness.
How can marketing create greatness? By developing a great marketing message, you are defining your company. You are weaving your company flag that will lead your company to greatness. The better the flag, the stronger the message, and the more inspired your work team will be. Great marketing not only defines your company, but it also makes it better. When you develop a great message, even if that message reflects your company’s future vision rather than where it is today, you drive your team to fulfill that vision and make your company the shining organization on a hill that you described through your marketing message.
Apple, of course, leads the way with this kind of marketing. Arguably, they do not make the best products in the world (don’t get me wrong; they are darn good), but they make people believe that they are the best in the world. Their messaging is so good that it has created a cult-like following of people who want to be in the “Apple club.” Apple customers will camp out on the sidewalk to be the first in line to buy an overpriced iPhone and consider themselves heroic for being first. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the epitome of great marketing. It doesn’t get much better than Apple’s “1984” and ‘’Think Different” commercials. The proof is in the fact that they are one of the most successful companies in the history of the world.
What’s your message? How are you going to come up with a marketing message that makes people want to join your cult, I mean, company? Think about it. Spend some time on your messaging every day and do it with intention. The company with the best marketing always wins in the end.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.