Throughout my travels over the years in the SME world I’ve come across a common misunderstanding about what I do. ‘I’m a Bradford based marketing consultant and I help businesses grow’ is the opening line I give when asked about my line of work. The most common response to that statement is ‘Oh, so you do fancy brochures/ SEO/ web design/ business cards’ (insert as appropriate), to which my answer is ‘Yes….and no’.
I used to wonder if it was down to the way I was explaining it that was causing the issue, but I quickly realised that it was excessive use of the term ‘marketing’ across a number of platforms throughout the industry that has caused a major misunderstanding of what marketing actually is.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition is:
‘Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.’
I very much agree with the above but I have to say I find it a touch ‘mechanical’ in its explanation. My definition of marketing is:
‘Looking at your business through your customers eyes and working to satisfy their needs’
And that’s what I help businesses with. Yes this does involve SEO, web design, branding, brochures, social media, PR, online marketing and all that lies in between, but it isn’t just one of these subjects – it’s all of them and more.
‘Doing’ marketing involves looking at your business from the top down and researching what’s going on in and around it in order to create a sustainable and robust marketing strategy. How do you create a marketing strategy? First you need to look at the kind of marketing you’ve done in the past and how well it has worked. You then need to look at what you’re doing right now and what it’s bringing in. Only then can you put a marketing plan together for where you want your business to go – you won’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Yes it sounds like a profound song lyric but its very true.
So to summarise, marketing isn’t just about fancy brochures, web sites, Google Adwords pay per click advertising, SEO etc. It’s about all of those and more – keeping a constant eye on your customers, competitors, market trends, techniques, opportunities, threats – and taking action on these to ensure your business continues to grow.