Everything is Marketing

If my hair had not fallen out due to natural causes I probably would have pulled it out by now.
I set aside a chunk of time every day to read the latest punditry on content marketing, SEO, and other digital topics. Every day I read a statement along the lines of “traditional marketing is dead.” Every day I scream in frustration; silently mind you, because I don’t want to scare the dog.
It never ceases to amaze me that so many writers, claiming quite impressive credentials on their about-me pages, simplistically equate marketing with advertising. This leads them to their conclusion that marketing is therefore a thing of the past. All you need is good content!
photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service via photopin cc
Marketing is like an iceberg. Non-marketers might see only the 10% that is above the surface, but the truth is most of what really makes up the marketing process happens before you ever see an ad, receive a sales call, or read a piece of content.
Marketing has many definitions but the simplest definition is this:
Marketing creates, communicates, and delivers value to customers.
Anything that touches a customer communicates with them. It directly impacts their perception of value. Therefore, marketing is the effort that every aspect of your business plays in attracting, converting, and keeping customers. Not everyone in your company is in the marketing department, but they all contribute to marketing by doing their day jobs.
Everything is Marketing
Your product, or service, is a function of marketing. It is, after all, designed to meet a customer need. They touch it, or experience it, and a perception of value is created. Products are created, or refined, because of feedback from the market. Obtaining this feedback is called marketing.
Your sales people will not consider themselves marketers but they are because they affect customers’ perceptions as soon as the customer answers the phone or shakes their hand.
Your accounts department almost certainly do not consider themselves marketers but yes they are. They talk directly to customers. They send them collateral in the form of invoices. They are even marketing when they chase overdue payments, because they are acting as a customer touch point.
Your cleaning crew is marketing the company and the value they communicate simply depends on the quality of their work. How many customers return to a dirty restaurant or shop?
This is just the stuff that customers see directly. But I am not finished with you yet. Here is one more:
Bad managers or poor management practices create negative value by demoralizing staff. All of your internal processes create or negate value by the impact they have on your staff to work well and remain motivated.
Where is this leading?
Everything that touches the customer is marketing. This is because everything that happens in your business affects your customers’ perceptions, directly or indirectly.
This does not mean all of your employees suddenly need to go back to school to learn marketing. It means that every activity, procedure, or piece of collateral that the company engages in or produces should run through the filter of what does this mean for our customers?
What can you do?
Encourage your team, regardless of role, to seek the best possible outcome for your customers. Examine your business and think about how each of your team members has an effect on your stakeholders perceptions. Ask yourself whether your management systems, processes, and incentive schemes drive customer satisfaction or encourage behaviour that is at odds with this goal.
Make sure your sales people are rewarded for the retention and satisfaction of customers, not just for getting an account and throwing it over the wall to be someone else’s problem.
Look at your invoices, statements, and form letters. Do they look more like threats of impending legal action rather than statements of account? Are you missing an opportunity to continue to communicate value to your customers?
Your people can become excellent marketers, even if they don’t realise they have.

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