Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marketing - By Any Name

Over on there was a thread posted on marketing and what it was that caused business owners (the thread was directed at a woman only list, but applies to all genders), where they express interest in growing and developing their business - ie Making More Money - and yet fail to even bother to read or learn about marketing - much less do any.

Frankly I come to wonder if the nomenclature is the problem. Just like nobody thinks they need to "do a business plan" - as though there was an option for that! Well of course that is optional too. You can know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, what you need to do it and how to get where you want to go from where you are already ("Where Am I?")...or you can do the other thing. hehehe. How funny. Like anyone would be that stoopid ;-)

Where marketing begins and where it intersects and impacts on every other area of a business is something that mystifies me some, so I just don't look at it as a separate thing. A business is a system - at least a working business - and a system is more than a collection of parts. It is a collection of parts that work together to create something that functions. Take out any vital part of a system, and it is not a functioning system any more. It is nothing. Like taking out a vital organ from a human being will cause the system to fail and the patient to suffer and eventually perish.

Word of mouth marketing? Yeah, you don't need marketing when you have that. How do you get that? Oh, well you need *this* and *this* and *this* to happen... It is the culmination of all the parts of the system working well. And behind all that is the marketing strategy, working with the financial and operational systems, the customer service systems, the internal relationships and external relationship systems and on it goes.

At the heart of it, the frustration is that what people need to learn is not marketing. It is far broader and far narrower than that. What they first need to learn is how to open their mind and their eyes and some strategies for discovering how to learn to know what they don't know.

My advice? Don't wait until 'the wheels fall off'.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Magic Pill - Marketing Myths And More

The myth that there is a Magic Pill and once taken, the need for marketing is "over" is a common one.

It is not however, the only Magic Pill myth, that seems to flourish in the minds of many small business owners. As with the Word of Mouth Myth, which goes that this is what you need and it happens somehow without all the other parts that make up a business working in concert with all the other parts.

The tragedy of these myths is that they allow people in business to hide and pretend that they are doing all that they need to do to ensure the health of their business. They do so, presumably, because there is a higher value for them in avoiding:

a What is hard
b What makes them uncomfortable
c They don't know how to do

...than the value to their business to run it like a business, and put What The Business Needs, ahead of what makes them personally feel good.

Never mind that the wellbeing of the business, will ultimately have a very big impact on what feels good in the long run, to the business owner and their family.

What intrigues me, is how often the people who work with small business owners, are complicit in allowing these myths to continue, and how reluctant to do something active to educate their clients, and help them to get a more fundamental understanding of the principles of a healthy business, in action.

For all those who work with small business owners, let me ask you this. How many other business specialist advisors have you recommended and personally taken steps to introduce to your clients who need help (whether they know it or not yet) in areas of their business that is not your core work? How many have you arranged to meet clients this week? This month? This past year?

The change we want to see, starts with us.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Your Business Through Your Customer's Eyes

It's a funny thing, that in so much discussion that goes on in businesses, how much of it is focused from the business point-of-view -- and how little attention is given to "what it looks like to a customer". As though that is of no consequence to a business!

We can market and develop our business just as we see fit. But if it doesn't resonate with our customers, and connect with those we would like to bring in to our business, in a way that satisfies what *they* want... then we are missing the point - and the opportunity.

I've seen accountants and life insurance agents and mortgage brokers and lawyers and real estate agents and more...all discussing "my client" as though they understood them - when they have no clue. That these different business people are all referring to the *same person* in identifying "their client" - and potentially NOT ONE of them has a clue as to what the customer really needs overall and in a complete context, is a sad state of affairs. When the customer relies on their advisors in the decisions they make to purchase whatever it is they need, then we let them down by not providing the understanding of the role that we could (opportunity to us) and probably should (responsibility to them and to our larger business interest) be playing.

Here's a link to a great blog The Social Customer Manifesto