Marketing people love inventing new terms for what they do. You could trace the history of marketing just by listing a whole load of terms and arranging them in chronological order. Latest among these you’ll find digital marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing and reputation management.
I often wonder how helpful these terms are to somebody looking for the most cost-effective way to promote their business. Often the implied message is ‘forget what you’ve been doing – this is the way you should be marketing your business now.’ Perhaps it’s more helpful to focus on the fact that it’s still ‘just marketing’ but done in a way that takes advantage of new tools and technology.
Focus on the basics
I sometimes meet business people who have come away with the impression that social media marketing means learning how to use Twitter and LinkedIn, or that content marketing means starting a blog. That approach will probably run out of steam pretty quickly. Why? because these approaches focus on the tools rather than the purpose.
The following definition of comes from businessdictionary.com, and is quite helpful:
‘As a philosophy, marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. Marketing differs from selling because (in the words of Harvard Business School’s emeritus professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt) “Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariably does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse, and satisfy customer needs.”
Focus on the the last few words: ‘discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.’ That’s what effective marketing has always been about. It’s no different now, except that we have some great tools to help us do the job better.’ (Outraged sales people, please address your comments to Theodore, by the way).
Marketing involves listening
Social media tools help you tune in to what your customers are concerned about, what they need, and the things they value. Social media is not just a way to push out your content and sales messages – it’s also about listening and genuine engagement.
Marketing is all about value
Creating and arousing needs are areas where content is critical. We used to do this (and still do) with brochures, marketing letters, flyers and static websites. We’ve now added blogs, video, email, infographics and on-line discussions to ways that we can make people aware of how what we do could add value to their lives or business. The internet and social networks mean we can reach more people. But without a clear focus on the needs of your customers, none of it works – no matter how often you blog, tweet or post things on LinkedIn.
When it comes to meeting needs, what could work better that a good content strategy? Demonstrating that you can meet your customers’ needs and have done so for similar businesses time and time again. The simple message is that you need to build your content around the things your customers need and care about rather than the things that you do.
OK, on-line marketing does mean learning how to use some new tools effectively. But it’s just as important to keep hold of what you already know how to do: learn what your customers need and show how you met those needs. You also need good, persuasive content, but then you always did. You just need more of it now.
I’m Richard Hussey, Owner of RSH Copywriting. I’m based on the Devon Somerset border. I help businesses use written content to drive growth. Use the Contact tab on the left if you’d like to talk to me about your content marketing needs.by