Marketing is Not a Dirty Word

Marketing is Not a Dirty Word

I am a marketer—guilty as charged.

Marketing has a terrible reputation. I feel embarrassed and sometimes defensive when explaining that I “do marketing”. Marketing can seem sleazy and dishonest. And often it is.

Does marketing deserve its terrible reputation? Should marketing be a dirty word? I converted, maybe you will too when you understand what good marketing is.

Is Marketing a Dirty Word?

Marketing a Dirty Word

Marketing’s reputation plummets every time you experience

  • SPAM emails offering Viagra
  • Phone calls with telesales people reading from scripts
  • TV advertising you know cost millions but you ignore it
  • Junk mail pushed through your door or in your newspaper
  • Unsolicited emails after you attend a conference
  • Website popups and banner ads, even though you have learnt to ignore them
  • Boring presentations where presenters say “Sorry marketing said I had to include these”
  • People trying to rip you off or at least mislead you with complicated small print
  • Smoke and mirrors
  • Forms that ask for lots of unnecessary information

“Bad marketing” annoys you by interrupting you from doing what you want. How can I as a marketer defend this? I don’t.

Some Marketing Stinks

Unfortunately, interruption marketing like this still happens because it works. It’s very cheap, and a few people will buy because of it. But is it really worth annoying 99% of people to get a few extra sales for your company? Do you want your business to be tarred with the same brush as spammers, cheats, and crooks?

Some entrepreneurs are happy to cast ethics aside so long as the money comes in. But more often it’s laziness or lack of marketing expertise that makes marketing stink.

Journey of a Marketing Convert

All those negative associations come to mind when we think of marketing. So that’s why I think marketing IS a dirty word. Or at least that’s what I used to think. I’ll explain why good marketing does not stink in a moment, but first I’ll share some personal history to give some context.

I used to be an IT guy, working for a large UK company, Guinness. I enjoyed the technology, finding out how software and hardware really worked. I loved delving into the details to fix problems and get better solutions.

But I got frustrated, the benefits from the great technology were only realized by the business users and they didn’t understand enough about the technology. If they knew more they’d be able to pick the “best” software, use it better, and see better business results.

The other side of the coin, of course, is the business users getting frustrated. IT didn’t understand what business users needed; IT talks technical mumbo-jumbo and is much too slow to get stuff done.

I saw the need for a translator and became bilingual

  • Translating IT mumbo jumbo into English so managers could understand why, when and how they should use technology
  • Translating business needs into requirements documentation and technical selection criteria

So what’s this got to do with marketing? Just coming to that…

10 years ago when I was buying software, I saw marketing as

  • “Fluff”
  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • The boring slides in a vendor’s presentation you have to sit through before you can see the meat – the product demo and the details of what it can really do.

I have since gained an appreciation for what real marketing is.

Good Marketing is NOT Dirty

A market is a place where buyers and sellers come together

Sellers have goods and services to offer

Buyers need something – typically they have a problem they are trying to solve.

What a marketer should be doing is bringing the buyer and seller together

  • Helping the buyer find the best solution for their needs
  • Helping the seller make as much profit as they can

This is where the marketer as translator comes in; ideally the good marketer should translate

  • Needs to solution (so sellers know what to sell) and
  • Solutions to needs (so buyers understand what they’re buying and pick the best)

A “good” marketer should

  • Listen and really understand what customers need
  • Focus attention (and marketing spend) on people most likely to benefit
  • Explain clearly what’s being sold, positively and honestly
  • Promote excitement and desire
  • Encourage long-term customer satisfaction and referrals

Sounds too altruistic? Maybe.

Goal of Marketing

Marketing’s goal is to maximize profitability for the seller. “Good” marketing is strategic and considers the full customer lifetime value. Instead of cheating or tricking buyers in the short-term, “good” marketing delivers happy customers who will be your advocates, providing references, referrals, and invaluable feedback for the long-term. So “good” marketing is good business.

For a software company, you may have the best software in the world, and there could be vast numbers of people who need your solution, but can’t find it or can’t understand it.

This is where marketing really adds value, translating needs to solutions. The buyers win and so does the seller.

To sell software you need marketing, you can do it yourself or you can hire a professional but don’t be put off by charlatans and gimmicks, marketing adds value.

Even the most basic website explains what your software does, how it can be useful, why people should buy. Improving your software marketing is an investment that pays off

  • More people become aware of your software
  • You get more website visitors and more customers
  • Customers are happier using your software and recommend it
  • People using your software provide feedback and help you improve

Do you think marketing is a dirty word? Please leave comments below.

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Marketing is Not a Dirty Word by @SmartSoftMarket

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