I have been working on a marketing project lately and what is the deliverable for marketing ultimately? A nice little report that details the problem the company is facing, case studies of other companies, options to pursue, and the option selected with an implementation plan. Unlike a technology project though, there really isn’t a hard and visible product of the marketing project. It is research and strategy, both of which don’t sound like a whole lot. They are software for the business though, and sometimes software is more important than hardware.
New companies often avoid marketing. Or they see sales as marketing, or advertising as marketing. I hear many people talk about internet marketing, which is actually advertising. They are getting their message out to a mass audience hoping to get a few leads that they can sell to. Internet marketing often encompasses marketing and sales directly to the customer, without much effort from the company beyond creating the web presence. Individuals and companies often sell on the internet without really doing any marketing at all. I call this brute force selling, not really having a marketing strategy (or having one that came from the top of your head) and just getting a message out there that may sell your product to people. You might get some feedback from friends about your selling method and make changes based on that feedback. The feedback is a shallow kind of research but can be very helpful to improving you message.
So you can create a company and do brute force advertising and sales, and you might get lucky. Or you can learn a lot about the kind of product you sell, the types of people who may be interested, and the messages they will be looking for. There is a ton of free secondary information on the internet that can really help, but it will take time to wade through it all. Better than google searching for information is using an article database that specializes in business information. I typically use the one that I have access to via the University of Phoenix, but I believe you can also pay for access to these article engines. A couple that I use are EBSCOhost and ProQuest.
Secondary information is articles and research papers, which often refers to primary information. Primary information is when somebody does direct research with consumers to get a good idea of their preferences. Primary information often tries to prove or disprove a theory, leading to a confirmation (or not) of a belief. Primary information can be acquired but is costly, but secondary information is plentiful on the internet. And the more different articles you get that say the same thing, the more you can feel comfortable that the information is accurate.
All of this information and research can give us good ideas about our marketing strategy, but we have to test this information against our company mission and values and make sure it makes sense. Assuming it does, we can make sure our advertising and sales processes agree with our marketing strategy. We may also want to change other things about our company based on what we find out. For instance, if the kind of customer we sell to expect exceptional customer service by telephone, we need to make sure we are prepared to help our customers in this way. All of our company processes should be customer-centric, and our marketing research and strategy can be the test to make sure they are.
Now marketing may be blah, blah, blah to you… but it really can help create a focus for a company to make sure the customer comes first, last, and always. Then sales just start rolling in, and it all seems easy. Rather that the constant beating your head against a brick wall to make the sale. Marketing makes a huge difference.