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April 10, 2012

The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)

Of all the disciplines in our industry – the research itself, accounting, management, HR, etc. – ‘marketing’ is the least understood.  It is believed by many to be more ‘art’ than ‘science.’  It has a history of being perceived as “BS.”  Ask a dozen people to define ‘marketing’ and you’ll get a dozen different answers.  Now with the variety of social media available, it is even less understood.

The following Principles can help to explain marketing and its role in any organization.

Principle #1 – Show me the money!

In business, the purpose of marketing is simple – to help drive revenue to the company.  If your marketing doesn’t help to do that, or at least moving you in that direction, then you are wasting your time and your resources.  Marketing is NOT about winning awards or impressing your stakeholders.  Good marketing is about one thing… and one thing only… revenue!

And when you think about growing revenue, remember that it comes primarily in two ways:

  • Attracting new clients
  • Maintaining and growing existing clients (hint: this is the easier of the two, yet it is often overlooked)

As you put together your marketing & sales plans, remember to allocate time and resources to help you accomplish both.

Principle #2 – It’s all about the process

Marketing is a process.  Marketing is not luck or gut feel or magic or serendipity.  Successful marketing is the result of a well-planned, disciplined, step-by-step approach to growing revenue.

So many organizations are re-active with their marketing… almost making it up as they go along.  They simply don’t take the time to think through their marketing & sales efforts, to clarify the processes, to create a functional plan and then to execute that plan.   But those that do are almost always come out on top.

Principle #3 – What gets measured gets done.

In marketing, you must measure your results.  Why?  Simple… to see what’s working and what’s not.  If it’s working, do more of it.  If it’s not working – stop doing it, or figure out a way to improve the results.

There’s an old saying in marketing from the founder of a department store many years ago that states, “50% of my advertising dollars are wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which 50%.”  That is a situation you do not want to find yourself in.

I’ve heard it said several ways why we need to measure:

  • What gets measured gets done.”  You know if the coach/boss is watching what you do, you’re more likely to pay attention to it and do it right.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  If you don’t know what’s broken, you don’t know what to fix.
  • Measurement eliminates argument.”  It’s awfully tough to argue with results in black and white.

Principle #4 – Be patient.

Too many business owners give up on their marketing & sales plan if it’s not generating immediate returns.  That kind of knee-jerk response can be detrimental to the business.  To be successful, marketing requires a sustained, multi-faceted approach to move your firm and its services from “unknown” to “recognized” to “preferred” in the minds of your prospective clients… and then to keep it there.

Principle #5 – Marketing isn’t a sometime thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.

To be successful with business development, you must also understand that marketing impacts and is impacted by every other department in your organization.  Too often, marketing is relegated to some corner of the building with instructions like, “update our website” or “we need a social media strategy.”

To maximize the return from your marketing efforts, the marketing function and the marketing personnel must be fully integrated into every aspect of your organization.  They must know what’s happening around the company… and the company needs to know what happening around the marketing department.

Don’t just ask for a marketing plan and then put it on the shelf.  Make sure marketing has a voice at the executive’s table to provide regular updates on their activities and to provide first-hand feedback from the marketplace.

Principle #6 – Think about it!  Really think.

Harpeth Marketing is all about helping our clients to create marketing & sales plans.  And while you need a marketing plan to work from, what’s really important is the planning, the preparing, the discussions and arguments, vetting ideas and thinking through the “what ifs.”

If all you want is a plan without the planning, then pick up some marketing plan software at your local office supply store… and you’ll be done in no time.  And you’ll get what you pay for.  The real power of the marketing plan is in the thinking. 

Part 2 will be continued in a separate article…

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