In this post, we’ll explore how and why marketing can prove such an indispensable asset for any business. On the surface, marketing can seem like a burdensome expense. But if we dig a bit deeper, we can see that marketing is in fact a powerful engine, driving customers—and revenue—into the sales funnel.
We start off by defining marketing. Then we’ll briefly touch upon advertising history before turning our attention to more modern marketing methods. You’ll come away with a strong understanding of why marketing is so essential in the modern business landscape. Let’s get started.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is often presented with one of two definitions. The first goes something like this:
Marketing is any activity through which a company builds awareness of their offerings. They do this via various channels.
It’s a bit stiff, isn’t it? If you ask someone who works in the marketing space, you’ll often hear that it isn’t easy to define. Part of the problem is that the activity often bleeds into sales. In fact, the two are quite similar. Our second definition takes this into account and demystifies things a bit:
Marketing is the process through which you get people interested in your company’s product or service.
So, how does a marketer build interest in your product? They do this through market research and analysis. They do it by understanding your ideal customer’s pain points. A good marketer will strive to understand what problem your ideal customer is trying to solve. Then they learn how your product solves that problem. Finally, they create marketing materials that illustrate the same.
But helping a customer understand how your product addresses their needs is as much art as it is science. Indeed, what separates a good marketer from a great marketer is the degree to which they can execute campaigns that bridge these seemingly disparate elements—art and science.
A Brief History of Marketing
Modern marketing began in the 1950s. But marketing itself dates back hundreds of years. Some argue that advertising began in earnest in 1450, when Johhanes Gutenburg invented the printing press. This invention allowed people to spread ideas in a cost effective manner. In 1741, in Philadelphia, the first American magazine was published. Then, in 1839, posters were invented in London. They became such a popular way to spread news and knowledge that Parliament banned them—on public property, anyway.
In 1867, the first billboards went up. They were used to advertise rental properties. It was in the period between 1920 and 1949 that marketing really took off, with the invention of the radio. By 1933, over half of American families owned radios. It was at this point that companies realized they had access to a captive audience. The year 1941 saw the first TV advertisements.
From 1950 onward, TV became a major advertising medium. Many upper crust business people, especially in England, considered this form of advertising crude at first. Yet companies who refused to engage in this new form of mass marketing found themselves left behind. It wasn’t long before attitudes toward TV spots changed—they came to be viewed as a necessity of modern business.
Today, TV and radio spots are among the more ho-hum marketing types. As we’ve seen, consumers on the whole have been exposed to this type of marketing for almost 100 years. As such, many consumers are ‘blind’ to them. Ask yourself, when was the last time you actually listened to a radio ad? What was the last TV commercial that captured and held your attention? And even if it did grab you, did it really make you curious about the product on display?
There’s no doubt that radio and TV spots can be effective. But they’re more of a shotgun approach. They’re a numbers game. The idea is to expose a large number of potential customers to your product or service. Some percentage of those customers will, hopefully, convert.
But to get the most out of marketing, you’ll need to master more subtle marketing strategies.
Modern Marketing Methods
Today, with the advent of the Internet and social media, there are novel types of marketing you can employ. Any marketing firm can walk you through them, but we’ll provide a brief overview here. Understanding these sub types of marketing, and the differences between them, will make you a savvier marketer. Should you decide to undertake the practice yourself, of course.
Guerrilla marketing can be quite powerful. This technique involves gaining publicity by creating unusual or distinctive campaigns. The goal is to make a splash using as few resources as possible, hence the ‘guerrilla’ moniker. Guerrilla campaigns often rely on the element of surprise. The goal is to catch people off guard, and, by extension, to capture their attention.
In a world where the average consumer is bombarded by dozens of marketing messages per day, guerrilla marketing can be extremely effective.
A classic example of guerrilla marketing is Bounty’s Makes Small Work of Big Spills campaign. This campaign called for modification of an urban environment. This is a common theme in guerrilla marketing campaigns. The brand installed life sized ‘messes’ in various New York locations. One installation featured a large, knocked over cup of coffee. Another featured a melting ice pop. Above each, a sign read, Bounty: Makes Small Work Of Big Spills.
Note that the company could have opted for a billboard. A billboard would illustrate more or less the same thing. But would it have been as effective? No. The above installations were at eye level, meaning that consumers were much more likely to consciously engage with them. What’s more, the installations were dramatic. The consumer was more likely to recall them later. Say, when at the store in search of paper towels.
Influencer marketing is possible only because of the Internet and social media. Love it or hate it, social media is crucial for reaching today’s younger customers. Millennials appreciate it when companies make the effort to reach them where they are. They also like companies that show their human side.
Influencer marketing leverages an individual’s credibility within a community of like-minded consumers.
These individuals are known as influencers because they have large, active followings on social media. Look for folks who have active followers on:
Most of these social media sites have their own advertising platforms that allow you to advertise directly to users. However, influencer marketing is often much more effective as it comes with social proof built in. Social proof is another thing that millennials care a great deal about.
In this model, instead of advertising directly to customers via display ads, you pay an influencer to get the word out about your product. Note that in many areas, the influencer will have to disclose that you are compensating them. If you’ve ever seen a YouTube video that starts with, “Today’s video is sponsored by ___,” then you know all about this.
To see this done exceptionally well, check out the Ryan George channel on YouTube, and his Adstronaut campaigns.
Of course, with influencer marketing, it’s important that your product align with the influencer. For instance, you probably wouldn’t hire a beauty influencer to spread the word about a new type of wrench. Influencer marketing is an example of social media marketing.
Other modern marketing techniques include:
• Viral marketing. Marketing that relies on the tendency of people to share high-quality content. You can embed marketing materials or messages in high value content and, as people spread the content, they also spread the marketing.
• Relationship marketing. This is a marketing strategy that focuses on building loyalty. It requires segmentation of customers so you can focus on their specific needs. Relationship marketing relies on database marketing, analytics and behavioral advertising.
• Green marketing. Green marketing relies on the tendency of younger consumers to want environmentally-friendly products. It is often combined with viral marketing to promote ‘green’ products.
• Keyword marketing. Keyword marketing involves creating content centered on certain keywords. You do this in hopes of ranking highly in search engines. Keyword marketing, or SEO, requires you to understand your customer’s pain points so you can create content that addresses them.
6 Reasons Why You Need Savvy Marketing
All things being equal, the brand that invests in marketing will come out ahead. If done right, marketing can serve as a growth engine for your business. It brings in new customers and it helps you strengthen bonds with existing customers. Without a doubt, it’s essential.
#1 Modern Marketing Levels the Playing Field
In order to achieve long term success, you must build brand awareness and loyalty. The good news is that marketing is more affordable than ever before. Social media gives you direct access to consumers who are eager to try new products and services. Email marketing is also a powerful tool when used appropriately. No longer do established brands have exclusive access to the market. You can carve out your own space if you’re tenacious enough.
#2 Marketing Educates
A primary goal of any marketing campaign is to educate consumers. Your potential customers need to know two things before they’ll buy from you with any regularity:
• How does your product alleviate their pain points?
• How does your product differ from those of your competitors?
When considering whether you need marketing, ask yourself: I know the ins and outs of my product, but do my customers?
#3 Marketing Engages
Recall the Bounty campaign from earlier. Bounty is a well-known, established brand. But if they can’t rest on their laurels, then you can’t either. Bounty’s urban, guerrilla campaign engaged consumers in a fresh new way. This makes it more likely that consumers will think of them when they go shopping. Marketing engages your customers and keeps you top of mind. In other words, it ensures that your brand remains relevant.
#4 Marketing Can Sustain You
The economy doesn’t roll forever onward, at an even keel. It goes through periods of expansion and retraction. Marketing can help you remain relevant through either phase. The danger of not engaging in advertising is that your brand can appear complacent, stodgy or stagnant. En mass, consumers are fickle creatures. While brand loyalty does play a role, customers are often distracted by new, flashy products.
If giants like Nike, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola don’t forgo marketing, you shouldn’t either.
#5 Marketing Moves Product
At the end of the day, marketing is proven to work. With savvy marketing, you can increase your bottom line. This in turn can help you invest more into R&D, which means more products to sell. This helps you create a healthy, profitable product life cycle.
In today’s world, effective marketing is what drives sales. You are competing with Twitter Feeds, TV shows, streaming services, and news sites for consumer attention.
#6 Marketing Helps You Grow
Marketing is a crucial driver of company growth. Your current customer base is a crucial asset. But you should always seek to grow that pool of repeat customers. With marketing, you can do just that. Social media marketing, in particular, is an effective way to get new customers in the door.
So there you have it. Six reasons to get started with marketing today. Remember, all things being equal, it’s the company that engages in marketing consistently that will come out ahead.