What I wish outsiders knew about marketing

In my experience, managers with no marketing experience – the non-marketing managers I’m addressing here – often find themselves getting into conflict with their marketing counterparts or external marketing agencies.

So I thought it might be helpful to share some of the recurring themes I’ve seen cropping up in conversations with business managers outside marketing. I’m presenting this in no particular order of importance – just my top-of-mind recall of the discussions as they’ve arisen.  I’d be interested to hear if any of this resonates with you.

Brand-building is more like an ultra-marathon than a 100m sprint. 

Establishing a recognisable, familiar name takes much longer than most people imagine; many years of message and visual repetition, and often decades. It’s a hard slog. Set your expectations accordingly, be consistent and invest the money required. Guard carefully against faddy changes based on opinion, not fact (see final point below). The alternative is just costly tinkering.

The default response to a claim is disbelief. 

Until you can show people conclusively otherwise, they will doubt what you say about your company. The same goes for its products or services. People want to see others recommending you and what you offer; specifically, trustworthy individuals (or companies) they can identify with, credible experts or friends and family. Without these valuable endorsements, your company is operating with a handicap.

Customer count is vanity, customer retention is sanity.

Why is it that most banks, internet service providers and insurance companies never seem to get this? It makes no business sense to reward disloyalty, and encourage customer churn. Don’t follow them into this downward spiral of lost opportunity and unnecessary costs. If you don’t already have the data, start looking at lifetime customer value instead. Then work on motivating employees to build that.

People value a great experience. 

Remove as much friction as possible from your dealings with customers and prospects. Before a sale, make it easy and quick for them to find information, make comparisons and buy. After they’ve bought, show them they’re valued through the quality of support you offer. Empower front-line employees to act fairly and in the customers’ best interests. Take regular walks in your customers’ shoes to see for yourself how you’re really doing. Can you conclusively show that introducing an AI-driven chatbot or removing phone contact details from your website adds customer value? If not, don’t do it.

Every employee embodies the business.

If employees can’t articulate how your business expects things to be done – the values you live by, the behaviour you expect – then there’s a problem. Every field service engineer’s visit, every recruitment interview, every customer encounter is an opportunity to reinforce a positive brand message, or signal your dysfunction.

Management of marketing knowledge matters.

Marketing managers don’t last very long. Average tenure is falling. This means there’s a good chance your company is losing valuable, proprietary business intelligence. Specifically, knowledge about what’s been studied, tried and tested in marketing your business; what works, what doesn’t, and why. Is anybody taking steps to avoid losing this?

If you’ve found this useful, please consider sharing it on LinkedIn or any of your other favourite business social networks. And if you were nodding vigorously at any point, and would like to talk about steering a better marketing course in your business, feel free to drop me line for an exploratory conversation.

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