Marketing is No Mystery
by Chad Rueffert

I have one goal every time I sit down to write this column, and that is to convince business owners that marketing is no mystery.  Marketing should be a science, almost a discipline, that when followed increases the sales volume or profitability of your company.  Sergio Zyman, former Chief Marketing Officer of The Coca-Cola Company said it best:  "The sole purpose of marketing is to get more people to buy more of your product, more often, for more money."  Every marketing tip I give you will be designed to do just that.


What is marketing?  Many people confuse advertising as marketing.  Advertising is a form of marketing, and an important one.  But so is public relations, sales promotions, product packaging, sales training, tradeshows, websites, brochures, direct mail and so on.  Any activity whose purpose is to get more people to buy more of your product, more often, for more money, is marketing.


It doesn't matter what business you are in, if you can't get people to buy the stuff you are making, you can't produce revenue.  You don't make any money until the product is sold, and you cannot sell the product until you've gotten people to want it.  That is why marketing is as important as any other aspect of your business and more important than most.


We've identified the purpose for marketing, defined its components, and determined its importance to your business.  But how do you do it?  You have a limited budget.  How do you know whether to spend your marketing budget advertising on television or creating an e-commerce website?  Should you send out a direct mail brochure or design a tradeshow booth?  These are the mysteries of marketing that can be solved with one magic word:  STRATEGY.


Strategy is the most important part of marketing.  Do not spend one dollar on any marketing tactic until you have defined your strategy.  Marketing is a business DISCIPLINE, it cannot be a random collection of activities.  To ensure that it is not, you must have a strategy.  A strategy ensures that your marketing dollars are not wasted, that your marketing is consistent and focused, that you have a clear picture in your mind of what your product or service offers so you can effectively communicate with your customers. 


Here's an example that may help.  Consider the Denver Broncos.  Before every game the coaches write up a game plan.  They strategize how to go about beating the other team.  Strategy is too important to leave to the players on the field.  Their job is to implement the strategy.  The same is true of a business owner.  You must not let your salespeople or your graphic designer or your accountant determine your strategy.  You are the head coach.  You design the game plan.  Your employees then go out and make it happen.  The team runs only the plays you call.  What do you think would happen if each team member started running their own plays?  Chaos.  A disciplined team will win games.  A disciplined marketing approach will make you more money.


Creating a strategy is not as difficult as it sounds.  You are simply deciding whether it will be easier to win if you run the ball or pass the ball.  How are you going to sell your product to more people, more often, for more money?  Are you going to set your price below the competition?  Are you going to offer a service not previously available?  What is the core value of your product or service that makes it better, different, more appealing to the customer?  What one thing is most likely to convince someone to buy your product?


Take, for example, the Broadmoor Hotel.  I've never worked on their marketing, but I can identify their strategy immediately.  Their strategy is to be the best, classiest, most elite resort destination in the Rocky Mountains.  Therefore, I can guarantee you will never see an ad campaign focused on how affordable their rooms are.  If you do, they've forgotten their strategy and made a huge mistake. 


Everything you do, every ad, every sales promotion, every communication with your customer will be determined by and measured against your strategy.  If it doesn't move your strategy forward, forget it. 


How are you going to win the game?  What's your game plan?  Start by asking yourself one question.  Why should someone buy my product or service?  If you can make a definitive, persuasive answer in two sentences or less, you've probably found the basis for your strategy.  Now, when your marketing department pitches the new campaign to you, you have something to measure it against.  If your strategy is to be the most affordable product on the market, you don't base your advertising around your selection of colors.  Starting with a strategy allows you to make educated decisions about the rest of your marketing plan.


Creating a strategy is the first step in getting  more people to buy more of your product, more often, for more money.  It's your game plan.  Stay tuned to future columns to learn how to take your game plan and turn it into a victory.