Yes, Marketing Is Everything

In a January 1991, Regis McKenna published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Marketing Is Everything.” In the article the McKenna states, "Marketing today is not a function; it is a way of doing business."

This is as relevant today as it was in 1991 (if you have not read the article, it's worth the $6 download at Marketing Is Everything). Another marketing guru, Sergio Zyman (former CMO at Coca Cola and author of the book “The End of Marketing as We Know It”), said that the purpose of marketing is to sell more of your product [or service] to more people.

Yes, marketing is everything. And marketing is a lot more complex than running a big, expensive ad campaign and waiting for the sales to come in. Marketing spans across all aspects of your business and across all customer contact points including your company's web site, how you answer the phones, your marketing and PR campaigns, your sales process, how your sales reps present themselves (in person and on the phone), how you implement your products and/or services, how you account manage your customers (customer service), and how you solicit customer feedback.

Marketing is everything.

To help you understand this concept as it relates to selling to HR executives, we've identified a logical, six-step model that shows how marketing spans across all aspects of your business:

1. Corporate Identity and Value Proposition: Before engaging in any marketing activity, you need to establish your company's corporate identity (look and feel) and value proposition (positioning strategy - what makes you unique). Once created, consistently apply it to all your marketing and sales communications including your website, collateral, sales presentations, stationery, etc. Basically, anytime a prospect or customer comes into contact with your organization, they should recognize your "look," understand what you do, and know your differentiators. This is different from simply stating the generic benefits of your product or service "category." It can often be assumed the buyer has already determined they need the product and/or service your company is selling. Now, answer this question: Why the customer should purchase your products/services versus your competitors?

2. Brand Building and Lead Generating Marketing Campaign: OK, you have a creative design, a powerful value proposition, and they are consistently applied to all your marketing communications and customer contact points. Now you're ready to develop a lead-generating marketing plan. The key phrase is lead generating. Your marketing campaign is all about getting your company's name and message in front of buyers and generating leads. At a minimum, HR vendors should include the following elements: press releases, direct marketing, advertising, trade show exhibiting, speaking at key industry events, and placing bylined articles in key industry publications.

3. Lead Follow-Up: Marketing touches all aspects of how you collect, solicit, and respond to leads. There are many key components related to lead follow-up including your proposals, pricing sheets, marketing collateral (and collateral packaging), presentations, site visits, references, demos, etc. The key to successful lead follow-up is helping to make their purchasing process easy and stress-free.

4. Service Implementation: Great, you made a sale. Congratulations. Now marketing can pass off the customer and never look back – right? Wrong. Whether your selling recruiting and staffing services, payroll services, employee benefits or consulting services, their is a period of time dedicated to "service implementation," and marketing still plays a vital role in this process. You must make it easy on the buyer because it can have a lot to do with your renewals and/or share-of-customer strategies down the road. You can also use your implementation process as a marketing differentiator. Plus, you can learn a lot about your customer needs and how you can improve your own products and services during the implementation process.

5. Account Management and Share-of-Customer Strategies: Statistics show that the cost of selling to new customers is more than 12 times as expensive as selling to current customers. And the more you penetrate your customer base, the higher the switching costs and customer loyalty. In other words, marketing does not stop after a sales lead is generated. HR vendors must have a formal up sell process in place and marketing should always be involved in this process.

6. Service Delivery: How does your call center answer and respond to customer inquiries? Does your company involve marketing when creating the direct mailer that is sent to customers on a service change/enhancement? Is marketing involved in the design of the website that customers use to access your company's product and/or service? The relationship between account management and service delivery is a never-ending loop and one where marketing should play an integral role. With effective data mining and other techniques, marketing can identify up sell opportunities, build customer loyalty, gather information for product development, etc.

Yes indeed, marketing is everything. Ain’t it the truth.