Well Tom asked me to provide you, his readers, some basics surrounding my black art – Marketing! This post, therefore, is intended for readers that would like to understand how marketing can help their business, have a fundamental belief that it can, but yet don’t have a clue where to start.
Whilst marketing as a science is deployed in organisations in very different ways – depending upon budgets, size of company, company objectives etc. – there are some basic rules that apply across the spectrum. I will share some of them with you in the hope that even if you’re an SMB with absolutely no budget assigned to marketing, there are ways that the “black art” can assist you.What is marketing?
So let’s go back to basics. Let’s start with “What is Marketing?” the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offers the following definition:
- Marketing is the management process responsible for indentifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably
This definition clearly puts the customer at the heart of marketing and as CIM state, businesses ignore this at their peril.
On the other hand, the American Marketing Association has a slightly more verbose definition for marketing:
- The activity set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
The 4 Ps become 7….
Anyone having studied marketing will be familiar with the Four P’s of marketing; Product, Price, Place, Promotion. CIM have now added a further three, People, Process and Physical evidence. Marketing and the 7 P’s gives anyone unfamiliar with marketing a good overview and at only 10 pages is a quick and easy read. The main thing to ensure is that your product or service is a requirement for the audience that you’re addressing. No point in selling virtualisation to a company that has only one server for example!
A key area to focus on, no matter what size of organisation you are, is “place” and one that is available for all to visit is, of course, your website. An investment into a creative, eye-catching, informative website is an absolute must. It is your “shop window” to the world. As the majority of you reading PlanetVM will have a strong technical bias, you are more than skilled-up to produce your own website. The only thing I would counsel you on is to ensure that it is creatively constructed and is kept up-to-date with new information and, ideally, has a blog associated with it to drive traffic.
The one area that is not covered in the Marketing and the 7 P’s document is the rise in Social Media (SoMe). SoMe sites such as Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn can take your message and USPs (unique selling points) to a far-reaching audience – across the globe in fact. The power of SoMe should not be under-estimated, in fact many large organisations recruit people now to undertake a fulltime role focused on contributing to community forums and blogs, responding to Tweets and using SoMe to spread their brand profile.
Website and SoMe are two inexpensive (if not free) marketing vehicles that should be exploited to their full potential. In any organisation they are intrinsically linked to success in my experience and important for the SMB organisation to truly leverage.
Marketing Strategy and Planning
Overall, a marketing strategy consists of a co-ordinated, not a piecemeal, approach to taking your product or service to the identified targeted market. Once the strategy is defined, a plan should then be developed to define the objectives and goals of the marketing strategy, including assigning budgets and resources to implement. One thing to consider, a marketing strategy and plan should be continuously reviewed, they are not a snapshot in time, as they need to evolve as the market, or economic climate for example, changes. It should be a living document. Take the time to invest in preparing your strategy and planning and ensure you regularly review to track success (or otherwise) and it will pay dividends.
Sounds good, but really, what is marketing?
Over the years of running marketing organisations and being responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollar budgets, two things are guaranteed in my view:
1. If the company is successful and revenue quotas are achieved, then the product is great with a great sales team, but if it doesn’t succeed then it’s because marketing didn’t deliver, and
2. Marketing is best known for the supply of company goodies and shirts!
Alright, so those 2 points are rather tongue-in-cheek J
Actually the best marketing organisation is the one that aligns itself with sales. I will argue that sales is a process/function of marketing, but whether you agree with that view or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the most successful organisations in the IT vendor world are ones that combine Sales AND Marketing versus having sales and then marketing separately. The two have to align to ensure success and this is true in my experience of any organisation, whether small, medium or large.