From the Series: Small Business Marketing for Dummies
Every business is in the business of marketing. It could be equally said tat every business’s real business is marketing. In today’s global economy, businesses do not sell goods and services. They sell solutions to problems. Marketing made simple is the ability to get people with a specific need or problem to recognize, relate, and respond to you.
Whether you are a newly fangled e-business or a well-established brick and mortar business, everything about growing your business has to do with marketing. A simple way to think about the nuances of it all is the practice helps you market your services, opening the door for you to service your market. When each of those is working, your business will continue to grow and you will never want for new customers. When that strategy is not working, you will find yourself hustling up new business or making promises to keep the business that you have.
For many in business, marketing in this uncomfortable experience that is viewed as difficult and unproductive. Part of the reason for this is because in the traditional sense, marketing and selling were intertwined. It was not until the last ten to fifteen years that the rules of marketing have changed and businesses have found new, more effective methods of marketing their business.
The fundamental shift in the rules of marketing has to do with business-to-business interaction seen as relational. In the past, marketing has been about pushing a product or service on another business or consumer. Not so anymore, today the goal is to connect with ones intended audience or client base. This shift has nullified the thoughts of quick-selling and moved marketing into a longer termed, trust-oriented partnership between parties.
With the rules changing, the first goal of marketing now becomes recognition. The ocean in which business is conducted is so vast it has become difficult for a small fish to get noticed. Marketing should be created to introduce you to the world. When you are recognized or your consumer base knows you exist the chances of your products or services being bought or sold increase. When they do not know you exist the chances of that happening remain slim and none.
When a new e-business launches its first web site no one knows its web address. Know one knows what products it offers. Heck, no one knows it even exists. With thousands of new websites going live every year the chances of someone stumbling upon the e-business are as remote as they come. Marketing helps to get the word out that the e-business has launched and their web address is where they can be found.
The second goal of marketing is relating. When a consumer is introduced to a new business it is just like meeting someone for the very first time. You are apprehensive and somewhat guarded. The fact that you do not know this person does not set the ground immediately for trust to be involved and for you all to immediately go into business together.
Consumers should be viewed the same way. A business that understands relationship-building and looks at marketing as an avenue for building relationship capital will be more successful than someone who tries to close a deal the very first time they meet someone. With the shift in marketing, businesses have to become more adept at relating to their customers. When a business understands who their customer is as well as what their customer needs they find themselves in a much stronger position to solve the problems of their customer base.
The last goal of the new marketing paradigm is responding. Every business wants their customers to respond to their direct mail, cold calls, brochures and other methods of marketing their business. Whether the customers do this is in no small way related to how well they trust that the business will be able to deliver on the promises that it has made in terms of being a solutions provider for them or bringing value to what they do.
When a marketing strategy is truly successful, customers will respond because the seeds of trust have been their since the beginning. Not only do the customers know that you exist but they know what you are able to do and what you are not so efficient at. They also know that you understand what they do and what they are planning to do in the future. With that information, customers have a vested interest in working with you.
The rules of marketing have changed since 1990 to create an environment where marketing takes the form of two businesses sitting down and having a cup of coffee together. In the midst of the conversation, ideas are exchanged and trust is brokered and at the end of the conversation, a partnership is formed and business can be done. When it is not, not only has your marketing campaign failed but so has your ability to build a relationship with your customer.