Article in Brief: Smart marketing starts with asking the right questions, not finding the right answers. Let’s go deeper.
Blame exhaustion, but I’m tiring of the same conversations with company leaders AND marketers.
Marketing is NOT something you do TO people. It’s something you do FOR them. And, more than ever today, WITH them.
Marketing is a system for understanding the jobs people are trying to get done in their lives and either creating or acquiring products and services that help them get those jobs done.
The 2 Cs of a Successful Company
Operations, human resources, financial services, facilities and property management, risk management, legal and, yes, sales are focused on what’s best for the business. However, when optimally aligned, marketing and customer service are the two organizational functions with their eyes and ears tuned to what’s best for the customer.
This is what tends to pit marketing and sales against each other. It’s why some companies are marketing-driven companies, while others are sales-driven companies.
This is a very healthy tension. In order to survive, scale and sustain, your business must be able to generate the two Cs: cash and clients. And this requires all those functions listed above.
Problems start to fester when marketing is expected to serve the business first.
And this is where I’m growing weary. Peter Drucker said it best: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” No customers, no cash. No cash, no company/business.
Here are the kinds of questions smart marketers should ask. I encourage you to carry these with you. Pull them out in your next meeting. Challenge your clients with them.
Whatever you do, please don’t ignore them.
Smart Marketing Questions
As you think about the people you seek to serve through your business, cause or art, spend time with these questions:
- What jobs are the people we seek to serve trying to get done in their lives?
- Are these jobs functional, emotional or social? Or a mix of these?
- Where are they currently getting their news and information? Why?
- What types of email do they read? Delete? Mark as spam?
- What stories are they telling themselves about businesses like ours? Products/services like ours?
- What stories are they telling others about themselves?
- Who is the real competition — our competitors or the status quo?
- Are we remarkable? Are people talking about us out there?
- Are we remembered? When past customers need what we sell are they coming back?
- Are we recognizable?
- Are we in the demand-fulfillment or demand-creation business?
- Who is landing on our website? Where are they landing? Why?
- Where are visitors going when they land on our website? Where are they not going? Why?
- How are people finding us?
- Why are people not finding us?
- What job are we hiring marketing to do for our business?
- What job are we hiring our website to do?
- What job are we hiring our social media channels to do?
- Does our content pass the highlighter test? Is it about us or for those we serve?
- Do we act as though customers exist to serve our business or our business exists to serve customers? What would our customers say?
- Is there an easier way customers solve the problem we help them solve? If so, what is it and why aren’t we doing that?
- Do your customers expect cheap and fast, the latest and greatest or custom made just for them?
- Are we seeking rewards or awards from our marketing?
- Are our marketing decisions data-driven, data-informed or data-ignorant?
- Do we know more about the customer than anyone else in our business? Our market?
Keep in mind this Albert Einstein quote:
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
I think what’s bothering me most these days is that everybody is distracted by answers. Not meaning to pick on publications I respect and read, but here are some random headlines from today:
- MarketingProfs: Four Essential Success Factors for Transforming Marketing Into a Center of Excellence
- Content Marketing Institute: The Future of Content and SEO: 5 Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know
- Search Engine Land: Using Google Customer Match to optimize PPC campaign performance
It’s all about the answers. The best practices. The latest and greatest.
Everyone thinks they know what’s best for the customer. Especially marketers. Wrong! Only the customer knows what’s best for her or him. And it changes from moment to moment. It’s up to us to listen, learn, test, adapt and truly serve.
Is there any other way?