A client emailed me the other day with a question.
He wondered if marketing success is contingent on your market, or if all marketing advice works regardless of the business or geographic market you’re in, or the clientele you’re serving.
It’s a great question.
My client’s frustration was that he felt too many marketing gurus speak in absolutes. They argue their methods or ideas work in all situations. That hasn’t been this client’s experience. He’s always felt the marketing methods and ideas you use, and that work for you, depend on the market you’re in and the clientele you’re serving.
And you know what, he’s right.
Sadly, far too often what is taught as “marketing” is really “marketing communications.”
And they’re not the same thing.
Marketing communications are the tactical things you do to get the word out about your business, products, or services. This includes things like advertising, email marketing, speaking engagements, or social media. Problem is, if you don’t first have a strategic marketing foundation in place, those tactics may or may not work.
Marketing is comprised of the 4 Ps:
- Plan (sometimes replaced with Place)
Marketing communications—what is often mis-taught as marketing—is only the 4th P (Promotion). But the first 3 Ps are critically important if you want your Promotion to work.
Nordstrom can promote all it wants but if it’s only reaching Walmart clientele, it won’t be successful. Not every business can survive in every market, and that goes for service professionals, too. If you’re trying to sell high-end coaching or consulting or even photography and you aren’t targeting the right audience—people who want, can appreciate, and can afford your services, you’re going to be in for a lot of struggle. You’ll likely end up spending a lot of time, energy, and money marketing a business that’s doomed to fail.
But fear not, there is a simple fix.
Just make sure your BUSINESS is set up to succeed BEFORE you even think about marketing it. Two of the first questions you need to ask are: WHAT am I selling and WHO am I going to sell it to? You need to identify YOUR ideal clients and make sure there are ways for you to reach them. THEN you need to make sure your marketing communications (your Promotion) reaches them with a marketing message that’s designed to connect and resonate with them.
Yes, there are a lot of moving parts in a successful marketing effort.
It takes some research, planning, and yes… some work. But the rewards can be immense if you’re willing to take the time to do it right.
I was glad this client sent me this question.
Because it’s been a frustration of mine for years as well. I’ve seen too many situations where people have had success with a marketing tactic and as a result they believe it will work for anyone. They teach it as a universally applicable marketing strategy, when in reality it’s simply a marketing tactic, that may or may not work for others the way it did for them.
That’s why it’s so important to take the time to establish the 4 Ps for your business BEFORE you select or begin implementing any marketing tactics. And even then, you must consider all marketing a test. Try it out. See what happens. And adjust accordingly.
Marketing is not a black-and-white, one-size-fits-all proposition.
Yes, there are some basic principles that when followed will give you the best chance for success. But it also requires some common sense and making sure you’ve first created a strategic foundation for your business.