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15 Things I’ve Learned About Marketing

marketing and business

As a woman (or man, I suppose), getting older is not the most fun thing in the world. But with a business, it’s different. Watching my business grow over the past 15 years has been more than fun; it’s been one of the most gratifying and educational experiences of my life. I benefit daily from the knowledge I’ve accumulated as an active partner at my thriving, creative marketing agency, so in honor of BBR’s 15th birthday here are 15 things I’ve learned about marketing.

  1. Be In Tune with Your Consumers. Understanding your customers and having insight into what they want, need, value, or causes them pain, is the key to meeting their unspoken needs and demands. The better you understand your customers, the more valuable the product and/or service you deliver to them.
  1. Research Uncovers Valuable Information. It is easy to make assumptions about the needs of customers, but in my experience that can be a costly mistake. Whenever possible, I base my understanding of BBR customers’ needs on the results of quantitative or qualitative research methods such as surveys, web panels, stakeholder interviews or focus groups. Discovering the undetected (and therefore unfulfilled) needs of our customers, and then meeting those needs, is a surefire path to happy clients, which is always our goal!
  1. A Simple Plan is Best. You need a marketing plan, but it doesn’t have to be 200 pages long. The most important part of your plan is not the document itself, but the ability to implement it. Don’t get bogged down by format or length: focus on function. Your plan should define major goals and the tactics necessary to achieve them, deadlines, as well as scheduled milestones along the way.  A typical marketing plan spans the course of a year, and should be updated annually to reflect progress until all goals have been achieved. Remember, you will achieve what you focus on.
  1. Invest in a Professional Brand Identity. A professional brand identity lets people know you MEAN BUSINESS. Today’s sophisticated consumer can easily spot a “did-it-myself” logo. A professional identity increases consumer confidence and elevates brand value.
  1. You Need a Website and SEO. The web is the phone book of the 21st century. It’s how more and more consumers locate, research and purchase products and services. Not only does your website need to be attractive and functional, it needs to be easily found. Neglecting search engine optimization (SEO) tactics for your website is like a buying a beautiful dress, and then never wearing it.
  1. Offline Marketing Drives Visitors to Your Website.  Creating a website and optimizing it for the web is important, but you still can’t always guarantee a strong stream of traffic. A marketing professional can help you identify the most effective offline strategies, such as direct mail, out-of-home advertising, promotional items, brochures, videos, etc., to help drive traffic to your site
  1. Cleverness Counts.  No doubt about it, the digital world is cluttered with marketers hoping to grab their fair share of attention from an increasingly media savvy audience. The solution? Strive to make digital campaigns offbeat, clever and (when appropriate) funny – qualities that today’s digital media consumers appreciate, and are more likely to engage with and remember.
  1. Effective Communication Helps Sell Your Business. Buyers need clarity. They need to easily understand what you sell and how it is of value to them. The better you communicate a clear picture for them and define an accurate expectation, the better chance you have of convincing them they need you.
  1. Emotionally Compelling Advertising Wins Hearts and Minds. Consumers love to be wowed. When an ad campaign makes them laugh, cry or feel they are more likely to remember it. Telling a story – even if it’s brief – evokes emotion, which is powerful. As brand developers and marketers, we utilize our collective creative brainpower to create unique brand personalities for our clients and storytelling to create compelling campaigns that their target audiences.
  1. Consistency and Repetition. Consistent use of your brand identity in your target market(s) and repetition of your brand messaging to your target audience(s) establishes market position and grows market share. Repetition may feel boring, but trust me, it takes time to infiltrate the subconscious of consumers. So be consistent, and don’t fear repetition – embrace it!
  1. Professional Media Buyers are More Effective. Don’t be at the mercy of a media outlet’s ad salesperson who may be under pressure to meet quotas, fill time slots, or push promotional packages. I’m not saying they are bad people, but chances are they have a different agenda than yours, and they are selling the one media outlet they are experts in: their own. A professional media buyer saves you time and increases the impact of your media dollars by navigating the in’s and out’s of each outlet for you, using their expertise and established relationships with media reps to ensure you get the best rate, as well as added value. The result? An effective media plan that is based on your needs, target audience and budget.
  1. The Most Effective PR Includes Strategy.  In days gone by, who you know might have been the key to getting good PR and growing your brand. But today, as is so often the case, the situation is more nuanced – not to mention competitive. In our estimation, PR is a true discipline of marketing and so, as with all aspects of marketing, strategy is king. Don’t get me wrong, friends are great, but in order to secure the unpaid media coverage, sponsorships, events, association shows and speaking engagements your business wants, you need a strategic PR plan.
  1. Added-Value is Important to Your Customers. In a competitive world, a business’ ability to deliver more than what is expected plays a big part in keeping your customers coming back. Therefore, to build customer loyalty, we always try to enhance our services or products and give our clients more than what they ask for. If this is not an initiative your organization is already implementing, take a moment and see if you can’t think of a way to start!
  1. Articulate Your Value. You, and your entire organization, need to know the value you bring to the table and be able to communicate it consistently and succinctly. What is the true value that you are offering your client that once tried, they cannot live without? If you don’t have an answer ready, you may be missing out on opportunities!
  1. Stay Flexible and Never Stop Evolving. Smart phones, tablets and an avalanche of mobile apps. QR codes, viral videos  and the now omnipresent Facebook “like” button. Marketing sure has come a long way, baby. And along with these technological innovations come new marketing channels, each with their own opportunities and challenges. While many aspects of the future remain a mystery, one thing seems certain: technology and the way we use it will continue to change. In order to keep your business relevant, keep abreast of change, and don’t be afraid to dive into new technologies in order to leverage new customer buying trends. I believe a willingness to evolve with the times may just be the key to long-term success!