By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
This post is part of a series taken from M. Dana Baldwin’s article Marketing: A Key to Long Term Success published in Compass Points February 2002. In this part we will introduce the series and discuss What is marketing?
Times are tight, business is lousy, right? We can’t be bothered worrying about long term image building when we are worried about our next order, if there is to be one, can we? While there is much to be said for surviving this downturn, there is also much to be said about starting to plan for the next upturn, as well.
Why should I think about marketing, when what I need is sales? Many companies use the term marketing interchangeably with the term sales. Nothing could be further from reality. Their focus is totally different in many ways. Sales is concerned with the here and now. Next order, next inquiry, next quotation, next sales call. Marketing is aimed at the long term. Marketing is aimed at building the company image, building the basis for sustainable competitive advantage for the long term.
In his book, It’s not Rocket Science, Mitch Gooze points out the considerable differences between sales and marketing. His goal is to help companies build their sustainable competitive advantages over time so the companies will survive and prosper. In so doing, he emphasizes the importance of marketing for all companies. Example: In Cincinnati in 1837, there were 18 companies that made soap and candles. One survived: Proctor and Gamble. Why? Because they followed a course of action that differentiated themselves from the others. They developed sustainable competitive advantages which brought the public to buy P & G products, like Ivory Soap. Ivory Soap was a good product, but a good product without the sustained effort of building an effective image would not/will not sell as well as one that has the image in the market place. Ivory was differentiated by the ad campaign we have all seen: “99 and 44/100 per cent pure. And it floats.” Those two slogans helped build P & G into a giant. They gave the company an image of quality and an image of innovation. Image can be made up of small things, not just large, expensive ones. Example: One paper boy noticed that a lot of people would cross the street to purchase a paper from him, when there were other paper vendors more conveniently located. One day he asked one woman why she bought from him instead of the others, and she answered, ” Because you always say ‘Thank you.'”
What is marketing? Peter Drucker, the guru of modern business management, has described marketing as much broader than selling, that it encompasses the entire business as seen from the customer’s point of view. To envision your company from your customer’s point of view, you need to take a huge step outside of your four walls and put yourself in your customer’s place. This is definitely not an easy task, because you are faced with myriad challenges. You have competitors who want to court and woo away your best customers. You have new technologies, new products or services coming on the market every day. You have competitors who want to enter your market place that have never been in it before today. You have changing personnel at your customers businesses who may have relationships with other suppliers. All of these challenges, and more, await you when you seek to look at yourself from the outside. But, to be more effective in the market place, you really need to gain the perspective that this will provide for you.
Marketing is really the process of helping others to perceive value in what you do for them. The challenge is to persuade your customers and potential customers that you really do provide value in what you do for them.
In the next part of this series we will discuss In marketing, one must take the long view.
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M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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