Marketing – a profession not a pastime: By Mark Saunders, Group Marketing Director, 9 Group

The power of marketing is often misunderstood or not taken seriously, especially in a smaller business, where resources and headcount budget need to be carefully managed. 9’s Group Marketing Director, Mark Saunders, is keen to make the case for seeing beyond the colouring in clichés and recognising how Marketing can invigorate a business.

What is Marketing for?
Don’t ever ask a finance director this question. Yes, Marketing can be perceived as a luxury item to maybe discard when times are hard, or tolerated if the team can organise some decent hospitality and regularly refresh the store of company pens.

However, when done well, Marketing represents the voice of your customer inside the business. What could be more important than that?

Marketing and Innovation produce results – all the rest are costs

A well-known quote from Peter Drucker, which underscores the need for Marketing to be front and central, because it helps to remind us all that business is about customers, not ourselves.

There are more definitions of Marketing than may be strictly helpful, but for me the over-riding purpose can be simply described as:

• Creating the desire to do business with your company
• Encouraging your customers to buy repeatedly from your company
• Nurturing the desire to stay loyal to your company

Customer Data – Don’t yell at strangers
Engaging with customers seems a viscerally logical thing to do, yet how many retention departments hear the phrase, “I never hear from you,” when disenchanted customers explain why they are leaving?

To engage effectively, we need to know who are customers are and everything we can about them. Effective communications need to be anticipated, personal and relevant. The importance of accurate, comprehensive and timely customer data is therefore paramount. Addressing meaningless, inappropriate correspondence to 'Dear Customer' should be considered a heinous crime for any marketer, carrying the penalty of National Lottery level odds of any response.

Marketing folklore venerates the introduction of Tesco’s Clubcard in 1995, which allowed them to profile their customers faster than the FBI. From a shopping list, they could deduce social class, financial background and personal tastes that in turn enabled them to put the right products in the right place and “sell more stuff,” becoming the UK’s largest retailer in the process.

Content – Telling Stories
You can now do a degree in Content Marketing, but what exactly is “content?”

In the digital world, there are so many ways to reach customers and be reached by them, but this produces an avalanche of noise with everyone competing to have their message seen, heard, maybe even touched, tasted or smelled.

To rise above the racket, a business needs to articulate their message in the broadest range and most attractive manner possible – this requires content to stand above the crowd.

So, Content Marketing is the art which:

• Encourages customers to engage with your content
• Creates compelling content that ultimately produces new or retained business

Telling stories is the methodology of choice for the modern marketer. Don’t baffle people with facts and figures, you need to bring your message to life and make it relatable. This requires wordsmiths and illustrators from the very top drawer to be successful and is why Marketing is a profession not a pastime.



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