August 19/26, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 5
By Steven Feldman
It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of why we’re in business—as crazy as that may sound. We all have a million fires to put out each day. Everyone always wants something—employees, customers, vendors—and they want it now.
It’s a constant battle, so consider this little reminder: Business is about one thing and one thing only—selling stuff. Yes, you’re innovating. Yes, you’re creating value. Yes, you’re improving the lives of your customers. Yes, you’re providing a livelihood for your staff. But none of that means a thing if nothing’s being sold.
So, where does marketing fit into all this? Sam Page, founder and CEO of NeuroTriggers Group, a boutique consultancy that focuses on the underlying principles of human nature to get more customers, believes marketing is just psychology applied. He notes what everyone knows: marketing is the precursor to sales. Its purpose is to make the selling part of the equation both easier and faster. The better your marketing, the more sales you make and, therefore, the more money you make.
This isn’t rocket science. The hard part is remembering it and making it the core of everything you do. It’s easy to lose sight of this. It’s easy to just “do” marketing. But every marketing initiative, every campaign must be held accountable—sort of like a real person. Pretend the campaign was a real person. Ask it how much of your money and time did it take and how much did it yield. If it took more than it gave back, you would fire that person, err, campaign.
Many retailers are guilty of holding on to failing campaigns for too long. Two reasons: No. 1, they don’t know they’re failing; or No. 2, they think they’ll eventually turn around. And the decision to scrap a particular strategy, campaign or initiative gets even harder when you throw things like “branding” into the mix.
For small businesses, this can be a trap. This may sound sexy or seem like something you should be doing, but the truth is for most small and midsized businesses, unless you’re over a certain threshold of sales, unless you’re making tremendous profit already, it really should not be at the top of your list.
Just for the record, if you are a small retailer with a limited budget, here is what your marketing objectives should be, in order of importance:
1. To attract immediate response (affordably)
2. To sell or directly lead to the sale of products and services (profitably)
3. To clearly and memorably communicate a marketing message engineered to facilitate No. 1 and/or No. 2.
4. Possibly to “set up” additional, future response from follow-up advertising or marketing
5. Possibly to add to name/brand identity
Marketing objectives should not include:
1. Being entertaining
2. Adding to pop culture
3. Creating things that look pretty
4. Creating casual water cooler conversation
It would probably be a good use of your time to write down all the marketing activities on which you’re currently spending money. Then, cross-check each activity against the objectives listed above. I bet there’s one or two in there you could stop doing altogether, or at least put on the backburner for now, while you concentrate exclusively on activities assured to give more than they take.