Business bloggers have to read . . . . a lot. Unless you have a photographic memory, when addressing anything of substance you must refresh your knowledge and explore what others have been saying so you can provide value. For this reason alone, blogging is an incredible exercise – it forces you to stay current and gain deeper understanding about the topics you cover. A happy side benefit is that it sometimes yields insights that you were not expecting. Below are a few of the insights I have gained about marketing.
1. Marketing is Often Misunderstood
When the layman thinks of marketing they often go straight to advertising. Worse yet, they go to the “Mad Men” depiction of advertising. Marketing is often perceived as a slimy world, full of disingenuous people who are trying to convince you that you need something you really don’t, with flashy graphics and copy writing designed to reel people in.
The truth is that marketing encompasses so much more. It is a mix of business, psychology, the arts, deep analytical and strategic thinking and yes, a little pizzazz. Good marketers have no desire to convince anyone that they need something that they don’t. Attracting customers and leading them through the sales funnel is really hard work. There is little value in winning a sale if your customer is going to be unhappy in the end. Not only will they not come back, but in today’s socially connected world they are likely to share their bad experience online – making the marketer’s job even harder.
Serious marketers strive to understand their customers and the issues that concern them so they can play matchmaker – identifying people who will truly find their product valuable so they can reach out to them and create lasting relationships.
2. It’s Never as Easy as it Sounds
“How to” e-books, articles or text books will never completely prepare you for the reality of rolling up your sleeves and getting it done. I constantly come across blog posts that speak to mastering social media in 1 hour a day or easily capturing leads with a few “simple” tricks. It is never as easy as they make it sound and to be honest, I think those articles do a huge disservice as they set false expectations and devalue the marketing profession.
Until you get in there and actually experience the unique challenges faced by a specific product or service, you just don’t know how the application of these ideas will play out. This is one of the many reasons why we are coached to create strategic business and marketing plans – they force us to take a realistic view of our goals and objectives and make choices based on data rather than ideas.
3. Nothing is Free
We have all received the lecture that nothing in life is free, yet we seem to ignore it. There is much chatter online about free apps, tools and even interns but we need to accept that all of this free stuff only provides superficial, entry-level value. Organizations and people offer these things as a preview of what they provide, but the quality products and services that will produce serious value are going to come at a price.
Don’t get me wrong – you can skate by on the free stuff for a while. In an earlier blog post I point to a number of tools that can be used to gather competitive intelligence – for free. These resources can be wonderful when you are just getting started. But, if you are serious about growing your business you will eventually need more and you will have to pay for it. It’s just a fact of life. We all need to eat.
4. Creativity Comes in Many Forms
Marketing graphics – the visuals that pop and draw us in – are the typical perception of creativity in marketing but there are many other ways for marketers to express their artistic side. I never thought of myself as an artist, but after spending many hours painstakingly creating blog posts, I have changed my mind. I am an artist, just not in the classical sense.
Developing campaigns that truly speak to the questions your customers are asking and that evoke an emotional response – that’s an art form. The writing that supports those campaigns – the words that are crafted in just the right way to communicate the value of the product, requires great creative skill. Even the analysis that drives strategic planning is a creative endeavor as it takes out-of-the-box thinking, time and patience to derive meaningful information from qualitative and quantitative data. We are all artists in our own way.
5. You Can’t Game the System – Quality Wins
Every day someone throws out a new idea about what works in online marketing. Current SEO techniques, short vs. long blog posts, creative ways to appeal to millennials, you name it. It’s no wonder – technology has created an ever-changing playing field where you must compete with shifting search engine and social media algorithms in addition to competitive products.
While there is nothing wrong with experimentation, you simply cannot beat a quality product. Offer it at a price that the market can bear and that keeps you in business. Create materials that clearly communicate what you offer and be diligent about supporting your customers. No amount of SEO trickery or social media marketing is going to help if you have a bad product that no one wants to buy.
Do you blog? What has it helped you to learn about your topic?