A few weeks ago I wrote about the Seven Deadly Sins of Marketing and hopefully all of you sinners out there have repented. Given the response, I thought it might be good to talk about the flipside, the Seven Cardinal Virtues of Marketing. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “Vices and virtues: Can’t have one without the other!” Anyway, as individuals responsible for the marketing activities of the organization, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we do have a responsibility to “behave” in a way that allows for the marketing function to perform its responsibilities in a manner that helps the company survive and thrive.
In today’s world of “needed it yesterday,” too many marketers see patience as something that can’t be accepted by the company because it’s “just not how we roll.” Well, as a marketers we need to continue to be reminded that patience is a valuable skill and critically important to the growth of the company. For example, staying the course of what the brand’s strategy is when you know it is the right course, rather than over-reacting to others’ activities. As well, patience guides how long to stick with your marketing message. It may feel like it is old and stale to you but that’s because you’re exposed to it daily while prospects and customers aren’t nearly as familiar with it. That doesn’t mean you should keep repeating the same thing over and over again, especially if a better approach is required. Be patient with yourself and resist the temptation to compare your progress to that of others. Hey, it takes some time to set up a lead generation and follow-up machine that will crank out good results month-after-month, right?
Sometimes the best course is to apply a little dose of patience and sometimes one needs to persist and push through the challenge at hand. Be diligent in doing something every day to move your marketing and sales programs forward. You can always do a bit more to optimize the website, create more content, tighten your message or figure out how to better add value to the selling process. Keep learning the new skills necessary to succeed in a changing marketing world. Since the web is such a powerful awareness and lead generation tool, anything you can learn about how it works is helpful. With social media becoming an increasingly more visible component in your marketing efforts, be determined to write that blog post, send some tweets, utilize LinkedIn, etc., even when you don’t feel like it. You never know when your efforts will pay off. In short, it’s keeping the brand’s finger on the pulse of the market, and working to respond properly to it.
News Flash! The marketplace is as fluid as water so the watchwords for the day are “Stay Alert and Stay Brave.” “The Fast and the Furious” isn’t just a name of a movie series, it’s also how the Net moves. It can also describe competitive activities and certainly how your customers think and take action. Keep in close touch with those factors that will either lead you to success or be the things that will keep you up at night. Do your best to stay up to date by doing the necessary customer and competitive research by seeing what is being written and said about you online from Epinions to Yelp and many more review sites. Remember, “not knowing” is just that and more than one company has been blindsided by bad sales results because they imagined they knew what was going on in the marketplace and what customers and prospects thought of them. Sure they did.
Customers know when companies are not being upfront or honest with them by what they see, read or hear in the marketing or advertising. They know when you’re trying to hide behind the small legal type or legal mumbo-jumbo. And guess what? As people who really dislike honesty, they bail…and they let others know about it as well. Conversely, think like your customers: If you had a problem with an order and wanted it resolved, you’d want to be treated fairly—and so would they. Make sure that your marketing material and activities reflect a company who respects and values their customers…because we know that they’re not easy to come by.
Believe in yourself and what your company is marketing. Know that marketing does work, regardless of the naysayers throughout the organization from C-Suite to the folks in finance and sales. My business partner is quick to point out that marketing is a self- fulfilling prophecy: If you believe in it, you’ll commit to it, invest in it and give it time to work… and it will. Or, if you don’t really believe in it, you’ll hold back, and guess what? It won’t work, and you’ll be right as well. If we’re honest with ourselves, there are times when we’ve wondered if what we’re doing is really achieving the goals we’ve set forth. Realize that success usually comes only after setbacks. View failure as an unavoidable component of success.
Planning and acting can be difficult for a lot of marketers who often fear looking indecisive or making a mistake when the firm’s future—or their job—is at stake. Making decisions that are politically expedient, that travel the path of least resistance or avoid confrontation are dangerous and often unproductive without thinking through the ramifications of the decision. And when that happen, like clockwork, a marketing problem raises its ugly head. To help with that, first listen to what others have to say because the right answer might possibly come from them….really. Second, judge with the information in hand. And then, once you judge the right thing to do, the next thing to do is act. Otherwise, what’s the point?
It’s a virtue combination that in our everyday life we think is important….but is rarely acted upon in business. Yes, as marketers we’re responsible for communicating a meaningful and unique value proposition that the brand alone can own and then making sure that the audience embraces it both emotionally as well as rationally. But shouldn’t we also make sure that the brand contributes something meaningful to the market – or even better, the society? A brand should stand for something more than just the product or service that comes from a company. A reputation for being a good corporate citizen only comes through actions that don’t have an obvious ROI attached to it, such as sponsorship or participation in causes or activities that benefit the community because it’s a right thing to do. Think about how as a marketer this chastity/charity mindset could feed the soul of the organization.
As marketers, we realize that the marketplace brings with it many trappings and temptations that could lead us astray from doing the job that both we and the company expect. Recalibrating our thinking and actions to embrace the virtuous side of ourselves in a way that also benefits the organization will lead us to a better place. Let’s go and do good. Your company and customers deserve it.
Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.