With today’s dizzying array of marketing tools, and more being added daily, it can be hard for businesses to remember what marketing is and the essential role it plays in business success.

The CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) states that: “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”*.

So before you drown in Twitter, SnapChat, on-line campaigns, off-line campaigns, branding, website, product suites, target markets and so on, stop, draw breath and go back to some of the fundamentals of Marketing because, in the words of Nick Baggott, a digital marketing trainer for the CIM, “Remember the phrase “old rules with new tools”.*

Old rule 1. Marketing is about customers
Unless someone is buying your product or service, the fact that you now use Prezi for your presentations instead of PowerPoint is irrelevant. Marketing is about satisfying customers’ wants and needs.

Ask yourself: Does our company provide a product or service to meet needs? Whose needs? Do these people know they need our product? If not, can we create that need?

If our product does “scratch their itch”, do they know we exist? How are we reaching them? Do we know where they “hang out” and how we can get to them?
Do we understand the stages they go through before buying our product? Are we actively helping them move through those stages?

It’s all about your customers; if your customers aren’t on Google+, why are you?

Old rule 2. Plan: not spray and pray
Many companies do a lot of great marketing activities and win customers but the marketing and PR is often undertaken in an unplanned, reactive way; the equivalent of “Spray it out there and pray we get the desired effect”.

Marketing involves planning.

  • Planning involves identifying what the market place needs, then devising products and services to meet those needs.
  • Planning means determining which segments in that market place you want to sell to and which of your products best meets each segment’s needs.
  • Planning means figuring out how you are going to reach those segments, full of prospective customers, and convince them that your product is the one that will best satisy their itch.
  • Planning means understanding the different stages each of your segments goes through when they buy from you and helping them move through the buying process with different marketing tools in place at each stage.

Plan first. Then choose your marketing tools.

Old rule 3. Choose the tool most suitable to the job
You work in the B2B sector, yet you have a company Facebook page that you pour time and effort into, while neglecting LinkedIn. Why? Facebook is in the personal domain yet you are trying to connect with people when they are in a business mode. Is this really the best tool for the job?

You have a high end, consumer product, but are advertising in local free newspapers and magazines, as they are cheap. Do your prospective clients receive these? Do they read them on their way to the recycling bin? Is this the best use of your marketing budget?

Make sure that the marketing tool you are using is appropriate to the job that needs doing and if you are unsure, go back to rule 1. It’s all about customers. Not your personal likes and dislikes.

Old rule 4. Choose the person most skilled to wield that tool
Digital marketers, Marketing managers, PR specialists, web designers, graphic designers, market researchers, copy writers, social media experts…

All of these are professionals who specialise in certain marketing tools. Use them for those skills.

Recognise the difference between hiring a Marketer, the architect who will help you plan and build your marketing approach and the “carpenters”, “plumbers”, “electricians” etc. who you will need to bring in to make the plan happen while over-seeing their contribution and ensuring it all works together.

Once you have set your Marketing Plan and decided which marketing tools you need to use, build a team around you who can use them effectively.

The fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed and won’t change. What has changed is the way that we can research, reach and engage with our segments; that’s what makes marketing exciting, unpredictable and a bit scary because these tools are going to keep on changing and developing. Before you get overwhelmed, stop. Think. Remember: “Old rules, new tools”.

By Kara Stanford, Managing Director, KMS Marketing

*The Marketer (magazine), May/June 2014 “MasterClass” by Nick Baggott, page 41
** http://www.cim.co.uk/files/7ps.pdf

Principles of Marketing, Kotler, Armstrong, Sauders and Wong, Prentice Hall,2001

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