Marketing Fundamentals 1: Overview

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Course, Marketing, Video

Entrepreneurs start out with a lot of misconceptions about how business really works, and that’s understandable because nobody really ever teaches them. Marketing, in particular, is one of the least understood concepts by business owners.

Marketing isn’t just an important aspect of business. Marketing is business.

Peter Drucker, one of the greatest management thinkers of all time, said that businesses have two basic functions: marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.

Too often, business owners see marketing as the thing you do at the very end. The usual process is to think of a new product or service, build an entire business around it, and then finally, at the very end, start doing some marketing and try to generate some business.

But marketing really starts all the way at the beginning of a business concept.

Philip Kotler, who’s often described as the father of modern marketing, said “Marketing is the homework we do before we have a product.”

I tend to think of marketing in three layers. The bottom layer is the Product, which is the thing you’re actually selling. That might be a service, that could be a physical product, it could be a commodity; whatever it is, we’ll call that the product. The goal there is to help your target audience solve a real problem with your unique product. That’s the work you should be doing in the early days of a business. Instead of building a product and then later figuring out how to sell it, you should be figuring out what’s going to sell and then focus on building that.

The next layer is the Experience you create around that product, focusing on attraction, engagement, and retention. This includes some of the more abstract things we typically associate with marketing like brand identity and graphic design and copywriting, but it really also includes the mundane everyday customer touchpoint: how do they find out about you, how do they learn about the product, how do they buy it, how do you invoice them, how do you charge them, what’s the checkout process? All of those things are part of the customer experience that you’re creating, and small decisions related to that customer experience can make a huge impact on your bottom line.

And then we finally get to the Promotion layer, which is the part that people most traditionally associate with marketing, and when they think of marketing, this is often what they’re thinking of. This is the part where you’re posting content and updating social media and working with influencers and buying ad space and doing all of that stuff.

When most business owners pursue marketing, they want to kind of skip over the first two layers, assuming that that’s already handled, and jump right to the end. They just want someone to start buying ads, start posting things on social media, and trust that it’s all going to work.

But more likely, you probably have some fundamental problems with the fit between your product and your target market, and you really want to dive into those and figure out what those are because that’s going to be a big multiplier for your business. If you get that sorted out, you’re going to sell a lot more.

Regarding your customer experience, even small obstacles in the process can be a big hindrance to customers who are trying to engage with you and purchase your product. If there’s a bug in the checkout process or they can’t find your contact form, or the packaging is wrong and the product arrives broken, or the experience is time-consuming and it makes people frustrated, and they post bad reviews online, all those things chip away at sales. And getting those things resolved is kind of like fixing your net before you go fishing. There’s no point in throwing the net out in the water and trying to catch a bunch of fish if they’re just slipping out through the holes in the net.

When I owned an agency, this was one of the hardest things to get business owners to understand. They would come to us wanting a website, or SEO, or a PPC campaign, or something like that, and very often once we started getting into it, we realized there were more fundamental problems that were holding their business back than just promotional ones.

I once worked with a software company that had a new customer onboarding process that literally took several hours to complete. Nobody really wanted to admit that that was a very broken process and that there was some heavy software work necessary to fix that. Instead, they just wanted us to treat it as unchangeable and try to work around it. Well, we didn’t do that. We dug our heels in, and we made the case for the fact that they needed to change that software, or the whole thing was going to be a waste of time. Eventually, they made those changes, which turned out not to be as hard as they assumed that it was, and we brought that new customer onboarding time down to a few minutes. Can you imagine the difference it makes in sales to sign up for a piece of software and to be using it 3 or 4 minutes later versus that process taking several hours over the course of a day and you having to go back and forth into that software to try to activate it so you can actually check it out?

As a business owner, you just want there to be a silver bullet, just a thing that you can do that makes business happen, but as with just about everything in business, it’s not that simple.

However, this is doable, and I’m going to break these steps down so just about anyone can tackle this. It doesn’t require special knowledge. It does require special perspective, and that’s what I’m going to try to give you.

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