September 3, 2012
The Rainmaker

Why marketing matters

Ken Cook

Building business through relationships is a successful and sustainable strategy. A critical part of the strategy is identifying and building relationships with people who would value the products and services you offer. This is where marketing matters.

For relationship builders, marketing is one half of their success formula. Marketing's primary function is to create awareness and interest. Marketing is the first step in connecting with people; it is the primer for relationships to come.

With this positioning and role for marketing in mind, here are some simple marketing guidelines to consider:

• Marketing is a measurable business discipline.

• Marketing starts with clear strategic goals.

• Success requires uniqueness.

• The customer defines your success.

Marketing is a business discipline, not some mysterious skill set applied in a creative inner sanctum where only marketers have access. In its simplest and best form, marketing builds connections with customers and prospective customers who would want to buy what the business offers. Business leaders should ask marketers how they are connecting to customers. If the answer is not solid, on point, and measurable, then the marketer needs to go back to work.

Marketing is also measurable in terms of opportunities and ultimately revenue. Is the number of relationship opportunities increasing? Are these relationships ultimately resulting in increased revenue? If not, the marketing may not be working.

Change the tactic; re-do the advertising; change the messaging; find new marketing experts. Do whatever is needed to increase relationship opportunities and profitable sales.

Be clear on your strategy and goals. Marketing without clear strategic goals and direction is creativity without direction. There's nothing wrong with creativity for the sake of creativity. However creativity that costs the company money under the marketing banner needs direction. A clear strategy sets the direction. A clear strategy helps establish measurable goals. With direction and goals, you can channel marketing to help produce desired results.

Marketing success demands uniqueness. Customers are bombarded by choices. The ability to make clear distinctions between choices helps customers become aware, and awareness is the first step towards revenue. A company's ability to be unique in the mind of the customer makes the life of the customer a little simpler. They can clearly say that something is or is not for them. Either way, the marketer has direct feedback as to the fit of their product or service.

Now to the most important rule of all — the customer defines success. They do this by the simple act of giving you their money for your product or service. If they give you the money, you are successful. If they do not, you are not successful (at least with that customer).

For marketers, success is finding more and more of the people who will give you their money. Marketer's primary mission is to find these people, connect with them through their marketing tactics and messaging, and spur them to action. When marketing works well it produces opportunities for strong and trusting relationships to develop. Relationship builders then enhance the connection, build trust, and collaborate to find solutions for the customer.

One final caveat about marketing — you can't live without it. Marketing matters because it educates, builds awareness and establishes initial connections. Marketing is leverage for finding and building more and more trusting and sustainable relationships.

Astute business leaders recognize that marketing starts the process of relationship building and ultimately sales. And as the old adage goes, nothing happens until someone sells something. Astute business leaders invest in marketing. Astute marketers produce a return on that investment, measured in awareness, more relationships opportunities, and ultimately increased profitable sales.

Author Ken Cook is founder and managing director of Peer to Peer Advisors and developer of the Relationships First Business Development System. Reach him through the website www.peertopeeradvisors.com.

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