A while ago, an article in marketing magazine suggested that one reason that Twitter has been so successful over the past decade is that they had “brushed away all the complex faux-scientific guff that marketing has become, and instead focused on what really matters: being a unique and useful business”. It was a phrase that really resonated with me. Having been in marketing over the past 20 plus years, and having seen the impact that the internet has had on this profession, there is no doubt that Faux Scientific Guff, has taken over the industry, and we need to win it back! As a member of the CIM and a Chartered Marketer, I have always understood that marketing is all about communicating the value that you add to your potential customers, and ultimately this comes from being a unique and useful business.
There is no Magic wand for Marketing Success
Since the advent of the web as a marketing tool, too many marketing companies have promoted the idea that there is this magic formula to marketing. One which, if applied to any business, is the magic wand that delivers success. Furthermore, they have sold their services by promoting the idea that there are measurements that can be applied to your marketing efforts (usually very technical & impossible to understand for the layman) to suggest that your marketing is sub-optimal, and that by improving these measurements your marketing will magically deliver success. Well, I am going to make a bold statement:
"There is no magic wand for marketing success"
Furthermore, there is no simple metric that can be optimized or formula that can be applied in the real world with real businesses to deliver marketing success. It is still about being a unique and useful business and making sure that your customers & potential customer realise this. So I am clear, let me repeat that.
It (Marketing) is still about being a unique and useful business, and making sure that you communicate this to your customers & potential customers
OK rant over.
Marketing statistics metrics are a tool not the objective
In saying all this, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t think the measurement of marketing efforts have value because they do. In pre-internet days, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing was challenging and expensive, meaning that for most SME businesses it was about throwing resources at it and hoping that some would stick.
Now, that is no longer the case and the plethora of data and statistics available, if used intelligently can really assist in making marketing more effective and allowing focus on areas that seem to be delivering value.
Let’s talk about SEO
Let me take SEO as a case in point. There is no doubt that search engines (OK, let’s not beat around the bush – Google) are a vital factor in the way people access information & make purchasing decisions. From the moment marketeers realised this, they have been selling the idea that “get to the top of Google and all your problems will be over”. This has resulted in “marketers” focusing on making their marketing relevant to Google rather than their customers. The result being that even if they did get to the top of Google, the message did not effectively communicate the uniqueness and relevance of their business to the people doing the searching.
I would suggest that this is a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog. The focus should be on ensuring that your message is relevant to your customers & demonstrated the skill, expertise & value that you add. That way when people do find this material, it will be much more likely to move them closer to wanting to deal with you. And the fact is that because this is exactly the type of information that search engines want to deliver to their users, they are going to work with you to help them find it.
Sadly though as a sales pitch this is a much more wooly proposition than, “it’s all about getting to the top of Google, let us do A, B and C, and you will be at the top of Google and all your problems will be over”.
In the same way other tools – email, blogs, websites, content marketing & social media etc – are just that “Tools” to use as part of the marketing mix, and marketers should concentrate on using them to communicate their message, rather than focusing on the tools themselves.
Stats should be used to drive marketing, and not the other way round.
Real, Effective Marketing for SMEs
In the 21st century, marketing is about the use of the fantastic tools available (Websites, email, search engines, social media etc) to communicate the value you add to your marketplace.
So whilst there may not be a magic wand, or scientific formula for success, effective, measured marketing is more attainable now than ever for SMEs. Furthermore, when implemented in a consistent and sustained way it will deliver results.