What is marketing? A look through the eyes of a marketer October 30, 2019Recently, on the way to work, I heard a radio ad that caught my attention. It was for an imaging provider. They were offering the latest and greatest in imaging technology and procedures. Radio ads don’t usually catch my attention, but this one made me pause. A marketer by trade, I began to get inside my consumer brain to explore exactly why this particular ad was so effective. Here’s what I discovered: I had been looking for an imaging provider (need) I had been in need of imaging services for over two years now (pain) I didn’t want to go to just anyone because the procedure is typically painful (pain) I was aware of non-painful, alternative methods (education) I didn’t know who offered them (need) It was the perfect culmination of events. I just so happened to turn the radio on that morning during the time this provider’s radio spot was running, I just so happened to be in a season of life where I needed their services, and I just so happened to have enough consumer education to know that they offered exactly what I was looking to find. The crazy thing is I didn’t even call the number at the end of the ad! Nor am I planning to anytime soon. But when the time comes and the stars align just right again, you can be sure that this provider has my consumer preference. This experience did a few different things for me. First, it made me realize just how difficult it can be to win people’s business (and how incredible it is that we’re so great at it at Beacon!). Second, it reinforced the importance of targeted, consumer data-based digital advertisements versus the shotgun approach of traditional media like radio. Finally, it re-centered my definition of marketing. Marketing is not about who can talk faster, or close better. It is about a deep psychological understanding of customer needs. – Michael Brenner, What Is Marketing? Handy Definition of Marketing When I got home that night and had some more time to mull over the events of the day, I pulled out my iPhone and Googled, “What is marketing?” It’s a slightly embarrassing search for a marketer, especially one who took numerous academic courses on marketing in school, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of “the main thing.” A particular part of the Wikipedia definition caught my eye, “Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships.” “That’s it,” I thought. Marketing is literally just taking people like me, everyday people who listen to the radio and Google simple searches on their smartphones, and finding a mutually beneficial exchange of value that you both agree upon, typically your services in exchange for their money. “Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships.” – Wikipedia I thought about everything that this involves, from finding and targeting the right people using data like demographics and life circumstances, to creating the right offer using differentiation and customer education where necessary. A fresh framework for marketing began to form in my mind. Suddenly, I could see that everything that we do at Beacon falls neatly into that framework. All Marketing is Inbound Marketing We are a digital marketing agency. That means we focus on digital media such as websites, videos, social media posts, and blogs rather than traditional media like print, radio, and TV. We do so because we believe it is the most effective. Not that we don’t use traditional media in combination with digital media sometimes as a part of a holistic strategy, but we prefer to invest our money (and our client’s money) where we know we can get results. As I mentioned earlier, digital marketing is highly targeted, whereas traditional marketing takes more of a shotgun approach. With digital marketing, you can show people ads based on their demographics, life situation, interests, and even outwardly expressed needs. You can also track their responses. Because everything is internet-based, we can follow every like, comment, share, click, and convert (or bounce). It’s kinda hard to know if someone called or visited your website from a print, radio, or TV ad. There are methods, but they all come back to digital tracking in the end. One of the core philosophies of digital marketing is called “inbound.” It’s the idea that if you know who you want to serve, if you truly understand them in all of their wants, needs, pains, and dreams, and you put valuable information for them in the places that they spend their time, they will notice you and pursue a business relationship. Of course, in the age of the internet, pretty much everybody spends a great portion of their time online. This is how we create exchanges at Beacon. We market online. We conduct deep customer research and practice A/B testing on as many demographics and other customer markers as we can get our hands on until we have the perfect target audience. We find out exactly what they’re searching online down to the keywords and phrases they use to communicate their problems and desires. Then, we craft our value-driven brand message and produce helpful information. Most Important Part of Marketing What is a brand message? To us, it is an empathetic messaging that will resonate with our target audience given what we know about them. The truth is, the provider I mentioned at the beginning could have done a lot more by way of brand messaging. If they had focused more on what their technology means for the patient, as in, less pain, rather than just how cool and awesome it is, they would have had a chance of capturing more than just people like me. I had to read between the lines. Fortunately for them, I knew a thing or two about imaging technology. A brand message is more than just empathetic statements. It is also empathetic action. I am a content writer, and 90% of my time is spent producing information that helps the customer along their journey. I answer commonly searched questions, write “how-tos” and “quick guides,” and generally put written form to the solutions our clients are offering their customers. This does more than simply educate the customer. When we produce empathetic and valuable content like this for our customers, we show them that we are the kind of people who have the answers they are looking for. The result? They want more from us, which quickly becomes our products or services themselves. “Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – Doug Kessler If I could summarize all of this succinctly in one statement it would be this, “know thy customer.” If marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships, then the obvious first step is knowing who you are relating to and what they might want to exchange. Inbound marketing is one of the best ways to find and foster exchange relationships through data-based targeting and empathetic brand messaging. We are seeing incredible results for our clients who use this marketing framework every day. If you are interested in getting back to “the main thing” in your marketing, we would love to talk! You can schedule a free consultation with us at the link. As always, happy marketing.