What I know for sure (about marketing)


This is what I know for sure about marketing – what it is, how it works and what it’s for.

1. Marketing is about getting your potential customers to know of you and fall in love with you.

2. Marketing is about finding the essence of the organization and communicating that honestly and relentlessly. In other words, it really isn’t about what you wish you were or would like to think you are. If you’re a cutthroat sales-focused, bottom line organization, then say that. Then find clients that seek that out.

3. As much as I would like it to be about nice logos and pictures, it’s about results. If you can’t predict and forecast, then it isn’t a priority.

4. However, there is a flip side of that – the devil is in the details. A beautiful presentation, logo, online presence, etc. goes a long way. It might not be measurable (unless your data set is large enough).

5. Therefore, there’s a balance between aesthetics and results. Sometimes you need to impress, comfort and build trust. Sometimes you need to convert and optimize. They always go hand-in-hand.

6. Another thing about data. Data is only worth it if it means something (if you can use it to predict, analyze, forecast, conclude). Vanity metrics are really useless. Although they can help you sell to a boss who loves vanity metrics, but that’s another story for another time.

7. I think the best marketing team is a duo of creative/intuition/psychology and analytical/data-focused/testing. That way you get original efforts, supported by facts (sometimes people have both skills, but not usually. They would like to think they do, but usually someone is more biased towards one).

8. If you’re a marketing practitioner, you need a marketing thesis. Venture Capitalists have investment theses that dictate what kind of investments they will chase and which they will pass on. In the same way, marketing practitioners need to be able to clearly articulate their vision for how marketing will work at a company. There is no right or wrong answer, just consistent, sustained effort (in line with the overall company culture). Maybe you seek new flashy tools or maybe you rock tried and tested ways. Maybe email is your thing or SEO is your thing. Maybe you’re a social media person or a design person. It doesn’t matter, be confident in what you do and do it better than anyone.

9. More on that last point: marketing only works with consistent, sustained efforts. One-shot deals can work, but they usually don’t. Or more precisely, they sometimes look like they work (a big boost in leads for example) but it always peters out. Your schedule could vary – you can show up every year at the Super Bowl or you can show up daily, drip by drip. As long as it’s consistent and sustained, it can work.

10. Marketing needs a foundation. It can be a website, social media presences, an inbound marketing tool, visuals, whatever. It should be based on your marketing thesis and you should be able to roll it out in a predictable fashion.

11. What about unpredictability? The world isn’t stable. The world can’t always be predicted. That’s why you need a mix of data and creativity.

12. The higher up you go in the marketing ladder (at large organizations) the more you need to be a conductor and less of a musician. Of course, this takes nothing away from musicians, there’s no concert without them.

This is what I believe about marketing, what do you believe?

(Photo credit: adele.turner)