Marketing for Dummies | #MyFridayStory No. 52

Marketing for Dummies | #MyFridayStory No. 52

Like many people, when I first heard the word, ‘Marketing,’ I thought it was a fancy word for, ‘Advertising.’

For a while in 1988, I was dabbling in what I thought was ‘marketing functions’ at the company I was working at. I was hired as a financial manager, but one task that fell on my plate was to design and place one small print advert in a magazine each month. Because it was such a small advert, I had to capture readers attention with a strong image and short, sharp copy. Over time, the adverts started attracting new business, and I was hooked!

I knew I needed formal training to achieve consistent results, so I enrolled for a one-year Sales and Marketing Management certificate. The only text book was Philip T. Kotler and Gary Armstrong’s Principles of Marketing. Now in its 17th edition, it is still relevant and regarded as prescribed reading in marketing circles. I’m not too sure why, but I quickly grasped the marketing concept and saw it as a non-negotiable for any business wanting to delight their customers. I honestly thought that everyone understands to treat your customers fairly and to stick to your promises, is normal business practice. Unfortunately, this is not the case and often, decision makers fly by the seat of their pants, making haphazard decisions as they go.

With a firm understanding of the fundamentals of marketing, I embraced the marketing process, believing it to be gospel to succeed in business. The principles were common-sense to me. The Four-P’s foundation of the Marketing Mix – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – although dated, still hold relevance today for marketers. Granted, the digital age has transformed the marketing landscape dramatically. There are many new technologies to assist marketers reach their chosen audience today.

And with this minefield of new technologies, so the marketing function itself has had to transform to adjust to the current landscape. For example, before one way of reaching our chosen target market was through direct mail. The target market would have been a large homogenous group, identified as having similar attributes and values. Today, we can attract an individual with a personalised offer sent to their mobile phone, the moment they are walking past our store.

Unpacking the elements of marketing, we are able to develop a Marketing Strategy that addresses each area with a clear, concise objective. This serves as a blueprint to guide the leadership of the company. Without a robust marketing strategy, developed in conjunction with the senior team, and implemented throughout the organisation, any marketing effort is doomed to flounder. And, as emphatic as I am about having a strategy, it still amazes me how many leaders and decision makers forego this critical step.

Early in my marketing career, I discovered that Sales and Marketing are not always in alignment. In fact, more often than not, there is animosity between the divisions. Whatever the reason for the mistrust, bridging this divide is imperative to achieving the best results from your marketing efforts. Finance often sees marketing as an unnecessary expense, a ‘nice-to-have’, and use the marketing budget as the ‘go-to’ area to cut back when finances are under pressure. To top it all, the C-Suite often treat marketing with disdain, believing the marketing team’s function is to order caps and T-shirts, organise events, and have fun.

30 years ago, when I first encountered the marketing concept, I thought that everyone, ‘gets it.’ And, although that’s often not the case, many astute business leaders grasp the marketing concept, embrace it in its entirety, and transform their business into world-class organisations because of it.

And, for all those that don’t ‘get it’, there’s always Marketing for Dummies.

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