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This is a list of 9 things I never knew about marketing until I got into the trenches full time.
1. It's actually WAY harder than it looks
I used to think that marketing was all about making a product look good and showing that in front of as many people as possible. I was 1/2 right in my assumption because you do need a good looking product or service and you still need to get that in front of people BUT the other half I was missing is the audience and their wants and needs. When I shifted my perspective from myself and thinking about volume to the other end of the spectrum which is the user and their needs it changed how I approached marketing from a mentality of taking to giving. You see people will only engage with your marketing if it is relevant to them, If it meets their need specifically. Seek to understand your customer before you expect them to understand you.
2. The new marketing channels change all the time
If you think about it the new marketing channels .i.e. social media marketing, blog posts, and content marketing are infants in the grand scheme of things. Print, TV, and Radio have been around for a long time. New marketing has only been around for a handful of years so it's still evolving at a rapid pace. This is partly in part due to it's origin within social technology platforms that constantly change with updates and patches. Another way that these channels change is that they are inherently social (obviously). Social bonds and trust with brands online are built and eroded withe every single post.
3. It's more personal than business
When we first started developing marketing campaigns we shot out the gate with high-quality, super polished content and it did OK. OK, no it didn't do great. The polish was too thick for people to be able to touch the brand. It was TOO good looking. There was little to no realism for people to relate to. What content thrives online? Humor. Why? Because the human emotion of happiness is a very powerful connector.
4. Marketing can be data and emotion
In a 1973 article by Mark Granovetter on The University of Chicago Press Journals, Mark talks about how weak and strong bonds play different roles when it comes to communication. Weak bonds are better suited for passing along information and data which happens all the time in business between coworkers that don't see each other that often. On the other hand strong bonds between family and friends are able to send data but are better suited to send emotion which builds deeper relationships. When you start marketing you have weak bonds or maybe no bonds at all. Our goal is to develop strong bonds with our customers so that we are able to pass along our passion for helping develop online businesses and seeing them succeed.
5. Marketing is not for everyone
There are quite a few factors that you should keep in mind when you are thinking of getting into market but these are the few that should steer you away from starting too soon.
- We just want to "try it"
- We don't have a budget for it
- Other people are doing it so we need to
- I don't think it will work but I trust you
- Just post stuff
If you respond the same as any of these above it's probably a great time NOT to start marketing, yet. You need a few things in place first. Vision, goals, and focus are the top three things you need to develop with your team before you start marketing. Vision of who you are and who the people you are trying to reach look and feel like. Goals on what direction to take your marketing and how to get there. Focus on the things that matter in marketing, results (the ones that you have defined with your vision and goals).
6. It takes a village
I don't mean you have to have tons of people on staff full time to get marketing done. What I mean is that you need several different roles filled. This can be done by a team of many or a team of one. These different roles have a unique purpose that each fit into the larger picture of marketing. To start you must start with a visionary to birth a vision of where you plan to go with your marketing. What the future of your business looks like after this marketing effort plays out. The next step is for a strategist to take that vision and then form it into a top to bottom strategy of how you will get the vision accomplished and when. This strategy must be accompanied by a plan of execution of how to get it all done and when to get it done for the next and final role to play the most important part of this whole operation. The final role is the doer. They simply and profoundly just do the plan. This part is the hardest for "thinkers" like myself. If you can be OK on the first two roles but be awesome on the last role you will go very very far.
7. Better together than by yourself
"OK, I thought you just said one person can do this?" I did and it's true but we have found out that the one-man-show is limited in a number of ways when compared to a team. Perspective is the most critical element missing when you fly solo. You can only see what you can only see. When I came to this realization that my perspective is so limited by myself I immediately sought out colleges whom I could bounce my ideas off of. Getting other people around the table helps expand your perspective in a powerful way. Another element you need is simply teamwork. Having someone else's strengths to rely on is HUGE. Having someone else there to cover the roles you are not so hot at will free you up to do the work that matters to you which in turn makes you more productive in two ways: straight up more time and you gain more positive emotions from doing the work you love and are good at instead of having to do the work that drains you.
8. The path is paved with pivots
A lot has changed recently and a lot more will change in the near future. With the high rate of technology shaping our world its very easy for yesterday's "in vogue" to become today's "faux pas." Staying up to date with marketing trends and best practices will have immediate and long term payout by staying relevant to your target demographics in the right now and over the long term game.
9. Honesty is the only policy
Yes telling the truth is best but what I mean more by this is a focus on not over promising. When we over promise in the past we end up doing work that is slightly outside the scope of our strengths which ends up eating up our time and our passion. Stick to what works for you and say something like "not right now but we can look at adding that in later" to customers that want more than you offer.
And that is the end of the beginning of me learning about marketing from the trenches. More to come! What have you learned so far? Share your experiences in the comments below.