When asked what I (Charlotte) do, I used to launch into great detail about my marketing specialism and I often used some jargon and industry buzz words when doing so. This was out of habit – a hang-up from my time working within marketing and branding departments. There, everyone knew what I was talking about and I was simply speaking “our language.” But, once I started working with SMEs, start-ups and other small businesses with people that are not from the industry, it became clear that my explanation didn’t actually mean very much, as I was often met with blank stares or awkward overwhelmed expressions. Their response actually did me a favour though, as I realised I needed to reflect on my explanation of what I do and stop trotting out the same old stuff I had been saying for a while. Anyway, my explanation didn’t really do my role justice as I do so much more than “marketing”…but what is marketing anyway? It is high time I put in writing what marketing means to me.
The dictionary says this: “[mass noun] The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
However, I personally do not think this definition tells us much about what marketing is and many other marketers agree. It is now widely accepted that marketing is the discipline of helping a brand communicate effectively with its audience so that the ideal customer(s) get to know, like and trust the brand. And then buy from the brand.
Marketing happens all the time because marketing is any contact that your business has with anyone who isn’t a part of your business. When your receptionist answers the phone to a potential client? That is marketing. When he answers the phone to a supplier or a partner – that is marketing too! The supplier or business partner is probably a consumer and has friends and connections that may be your ideal customer.
But marketing isn’t simply a case of putting out a few posts on social media, posters put up by your cash register or firing out some email campaigns. To carry out effective marketing you need to know what your brand is inside and out – if your brand were a person what would they be like? What is important and why does your brand exist? What problem or need does your brand address and who would want to buy from you? Why? Plus, you need to know your ideal customer very well in order to be able to actually start the marketing strategy.
This is all the ground work that many small businesses have not yet even considered but the need for this information becomes very apparent when you want to take your business to the next level. This is why I offer branding services and discovery sessions to get the answers to these important questions first, before embarking on marketing!
Once you thoroughly know your brand, competitor landscape and ideal customer, you need to think about where your ideal customer spends time and plan a marketing strategy that both reaches and engages them. But, again, it isn’t that simple, you want to reach the target audience but you need to talk to them in the right places and in the right way to cut through the noise. Plus, you need to communicate in a way that is in alignment to your brand and feels authentic, engaging and relatable.
So what is marketing? I believe marketing is fostering the perfect environment for sales to happen. To do it well, you first need to know your business, your audience and the space your business is competing in. This is what I help you do, from the first stage through to the end game of encouraging customers to buy again and recommend others buy from you again.