What a hypocritical thing for a person who makes their living from offering marketing consultancy to say!
Let me qualify: I love communication and helping people to have useful conversations. That is marketing.
What I don’t like is marketing that loses sight of this simple thing. Marketing isn’t pushing someone who doesn’t want or need what you sell to buy it. That is (one route towards) sales.
The thing is, our audiences now have access to so much information they can research and compare what is out there (no matter what they are looking for) and make intelligent decisions about what is best for them. Getting out there first or shouting the loudest, with the most colourful website / banner ads / Facebook page is not enough to build a client or customer base of people who actually buy your products and services.
You need to talk to your audience and give them information, discoverable in such a way as to let them find out your service is the thing they need, at the time they need it. It is much harder than simply shouting at a mass of people and waiting for some of them to pay up. In the long term, however, a more specific, targeted and conversational approach will be more rewarding.
Target what you do
It requires a multi layered approach. Some of what you do needs to raise awareness and promote your brand and services. Some of what you do needs to find out what your potential customers really need help with. Some of what you do will be translating how you think about your products into stories that your audience can identify with. Some of it will be persuading loyal customers to demonstrate their support for your brand and products. How you do this and the exact mix you need to use will depend on your business and what you want to achieve. The good news is that you don’t need to spend vast amounts of money to do all these different things, but you do need to think smart about what you do when and who specifically you want to be talking to.
Enjoy talking to your customers
This is what I love doing. This is why I do what I do. Listening to people, understanding what they need and finding ways to talk with them that include and answer their needs with the useful thing I know about that will help. It takes time, it involves building rapport and the reward is a relationship with people who are genuinely interested in the product or service we are talking about and prepared to commit some money to it because they know it is what they want.
Those customers are more valuable to you than those who feel slightly uncomfortably pressured into something they aren’t sure they completely need. They’ll also cost you less in customer service in the long run, as those doubts manifest as dissatisfaction with your product or service.
I really like being nice, friendly and building relationships, but this isn’t only about fluff. Relationships with people are valuable, going beyond the fiscal, but not excluding it either. Marketing is about building those relationships through good communication. Simple eh? ;-)