This article is all about how to be very good at marketing, but it could equally be called, “Why Some Businesses Fail When Others Fly”.
Before we dig in I want to look at how marketing is defined in the dictionary:
- n. the action or business of promoting products or services
This is exactly what most people think marketing is – trying to shout as loudly as possible about a product or service and trying to get it sold. Here at Factory Five we prefer to define marketing as:
- getting paid to solve problems
If you define marketing like this then you can see there are really two parts to marketing:
- Solving problems i.e. creating your product or service
- Getting paid i.e. marketing and sales
Marketing is the most valuable part of any business. To someone who is new to business they often think the product creation is the most important part of a business, but its not. To an expert marketer, marketing starts with the market, not the product or service, and the most valuable asset is a paying customer.
Let’s look at an example to really make this hit home.
Level 1 Marketing: Newbie
Product Experience: 1/5, Marketing Experience: 0/5 (none)
For this example let’s imagine a tennis coach of 20 years experience decides he wants to create an online tennis coaching video series and offer it for sale, to help others improve their tennis and make some extra income.
He hires a video production team to work with him for two days to create the videos. He also hires a freelancer to create his website and set it up so it’s able to accept payments. The product is called, “How To Improve Your Tennis”, and he thinks anyone who plays tennis even socially could benefit from it.
Now that both the product and the website are ready, he pays for some Google ads and starts to drive traffic to his sales page. After just one week it becomes apparent that the cost of buying ads is more than he’s making back from selling his product, and he promptly stops all marketing, and gives up on selling his product.
Level 2 Marketer: Novice
Product Experience: 2/5, Marketing Experience: 1/5
The novice marketer is close to getting it but still focuses on the product more than on the market.
If our tennis coach were operating at this level he might realise that he needs to niche down and focus perhaps on children who are looking to improve their tennis. He also realises that there is more to marketing than simply pushing traffic to a sales page, so he also tries to post to his blog twice a week and attemptd capture a person’s email address when they visit the blog post. He’ll then email them a weekly newsletter giving them some useful tips and reminding them about his course.
A tennis coach at this level is actually playing a dangerous game. He’s still pushing loss making traffic to his website, in the hope that the combination of direct sales and sales from his newsletter will be enough to make him a profit.
Marketeers at this level are still too focussed on the product and believe they are the bottleneck that is stopping them from breaking through. If only they had more time they’d be able to blog more and optimize their newsletter more to generate more sales.
In a B2B context business owners at this level will also feel they are the bottleneck, wishing they could attend more networking events, appear at more industry events etc. to grow their sales.
Level 3: Seasoned
Product Experience: 3/5, Marketing Experience: 4/5
People at this level are different for two reasons. Firstly, the market’s opinion comes before their own. Secondly, they are not the bottleneck in solving the problem.
Let’s assume by now that our tennis coach has given up on trying to promote his video course online, and introduce a seasoned marketer who knows nothing about tennis. She has heard about the tennis coach who can’t figure things out, so what does she do?
She doesn’t rely on her own opinion. Instead, she approaches the market and listens. She starts by asking existing students and the parents of students the question, “What do you most want to improve in your tennis lessons?”. After a while, some familiar answers appear:
“To hit a great backhand”, “To be able to serve aces”, “To be able to hit harder”, “To be able hit topspin forehands”
Based on this information, she’s able to work with the coach to convert his original product into one on how to hit a great backhand. And she has three more products to create too. How to Ace More Serves. How to hit harder. How to hit a topspin forehand.
Because our seasoned marketeer isn’t the bottleneck, she has another idea. She asks the tennis coach what his problems are. What is the missing piece of the jigsaw in his coaching business that he wishes he could figure out? He tells her that despite his 20 years experience he’s never managed to turn his club into a top ranked tennis club.
She starts calling the best tennis coaches in the country, and manages to get interviews with eight of them, telling her their story about how they developed top-ranked tennis teams. She records these interviews. Now she has a product for coaches too.
It’s counter intuitive, but being too clever can be a hinderance when it comes to marketing. You assume that to compete you have to differentiate in some complex way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Seasoned marketers don’t make this mistake, they always ask the market what they want, and then laser target their product or service to meet this exact need.
Level 4 Marketer: Expert
Product Experience: 5/5, Marketing Experience: 5/5
Expert marketers know that the true value of a business is its customer list. They don’t even focus on product creation. I’ve put them at 5/5 for product creation, because if they chose to, they would create great products.
But usually they don’t create products. They understand that the true value is a paying customer. So they just do the lead generation for other companies because most companies focus on product creation but aren’t very good at getting paid.
A great example of a business operating at this level is Experian. They have a multi-million dollar business just generating leads for other businesses. Here are some of the properties they own to generate leads: FreeCreditReport.com, FreeCreditScore.com, FamilySecure.com, Affiliate Fuel, ClassesUSA.com, PriceGrabber.com and LowerMyBills.com.
Improving Your Marketing Skills
So, how do you go about improving your marketing?
The first step is to recognise where you are. The next step is to read everything you can by expert marketers, such as Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, and Ryan Deiss. After a year reading everything you can by these people, and another year experimenting and learning by trial and error you’ll be in the expert marketer category.