What IS Marketing? It’s Understanding Why Consumers DO Buy Rather Than Why They SHOULD Buy.

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I woke up this morning thinking about how difficult it is to help entrepreneurs to understand the heart concept of marketing… I started thinking about how I learned the heart of marketing.

I had the good fortune of having entered corporate marketing late in my career. I didn’t realize that I had been instinctually doing it all along in sales and management. But I say I am fortunate to have moved to marketing AFTER I had acquired decades of experience in sales, management, and operations because it gave me fresh eyes among the seasoned marketing executives.

I was wide eyed and in wonderment at the “thing” called Marketing. I had previously thought it was a whole new science that would take me years to understand, but I was wrong.

Fortunately for me, my BA was in Psychology, minoring in Political Science, so I had learned a great deal about people and how they manipulate and convince – themselves and others! This is not a bad thing – basically it is survival on many levels.

So when I entered the Marketing Department and was then later promoted to Director of Franchise Communications and Affinity Marketing for the company, I learned a lot about both sides of the marketing coin since the role of the Communications Department is hearing from both Corporate and Franchisees daily.

What I learned in a hurry is that one side of the coin is about convincing the buyer they want or need your product or service, the other side of the coin is about convincing the seller they need to market their product or service.

The worst marketers are entrepreneurs. I am convinced that is why the success rate is so low among small businesses. I am sorry to hurt the egos of many of you entrepreneurs, but following your passion is one thing, but remembering that YOUR passion is not everyone else’s passion is another. There seems to be the “if I build it they will come” mentality that hurts most entrepreneurs. Yes, they WILL come, but they have to hear about you first! They have to actually know you exist. That brings the need to market.

If you’ll notice, most advertising is not about the product, it’s about getting to know the company that makes the product (and services are products as well) and attracting buyers to buy. Yes, it’s your passion that makes your product stand out among the others, but if you are standing among the others, you are not standing out.

If you don’t market, it’s like having the table set for the dinner party, but forgetting to send out the invitations. Even your close friends, family, neighbors, associates and colleagues don’t know about your product – because you haven’t told them about it.

You can set the table every day, but no one is coming… day after day… And you keep wondering why? “i have this awesome dinner waiting for everyone and yet, no one is here to partake? Why?” Have we hit the “DUH” moment yet? Are you beginning to see that marketing is not just some thing that takes care of itself?

Back to why I feel fortunate to have been on the sales side before going into the marketing side:

Because most people in marketing don’t understand what occurs on the sales floor. I went into those meetings wondering how they could market to consumers when they had never worked on the floor with them. And how can the marketing department succeed without working in tandem with the sales department?

It may seem like I am talking about 2 different topics, here, but I ‘m not. You who are on your business floor and who are not marketing are working from your ego. You are under the mistaken notion that the news of your product will spread like wildfire because it is so excellent! Of course, everyone will want one! Friends will tell friends, mothers will tell daughters, etc… But don’t you have to get those initial advocates in the door? And you have to not only sell them on your product – that is secondary. You  have to sell them on YOU!

You attend all these seminars, you read all these marketing books, you attend networking events, but you aren’t addressing your consumers.

I have slowly started to leave some of the groups I joined on LinkedIn because I started noticing that many of them are simply a mutual appreciation society. I wasn’t learning anything from them. I am seeking out the consumers groups – they actually need the advice. I don’t need others to tell me “their approach.” I need consumers to tell me how to fill their needs and desires.

If you aren’t spending the time on the floor learning about your customers, they won’t be interested in you or your product, because you aren’t caring about them, their wants, their needs.

That is why marketing is so hard to explain to most entrepreneurs. They are often too consumed with what THEY do, what THEY produce, what their consumer SHOULD want…

Time to grow up a little. This isn’t a popularity contest, high school is over – the cliques don’t care if you win or lose anymore. If you aren’t understanding your consumers’ response to your product, then you will never know how to market successfully.

You could hire someone like David Ogilvy to do your marketing, but if you couldn’t explain to him who your consumer IS and why they actually DO buy your product – not why they SHOULD buy your product – then they can’t help you. I see it on Facebook and especially Twitter all the time. Business talking AT their followers rather than WITH or TO them.

Spend more time with your consumers – LISTEN and RESPOND to what they are saying and you will learn volumes of information about how to succeed in your own business. Go for it!