We all recognize the moment of triumph when a sale is made. So is marketing of secondary importance, and just ‘making a noise’?
For most startups the most significant time is when the sale gets made. This can mean when investors are attracted at the right level, and with the right amount of money, and it can also mean when the product or service reaches the end-user. Money is countable and quantifiable.
Until the time that the money rolls in, the enterprise should be busily attending to their funnel. It used to be called the Sales funnel, but now most experts understand that Marketing and Sales work together so completely that unless they’re hand-in-glove, success is unlikely. In fact we now more often refer to the process as the Digital funnel, because it’s in the digital domain where most of our activity and efforts are concentrated.
So it’s a continuum, with the narrow end of the funnel being the sale, and the wide end being the start of ‘all that other stuff’. This is where many entrepreneurs look down the funnel and wonder how to navigate the process, because duh, it’s a funnel, and how do you map a funnel?
The fact is, Marketeers like me have been doing this for a very long time, and there are tried and trusted processes and tools which help define each and every stage. In my system there are 6 major steps, which also contain many subsets. Others make their procedure more complex or ‘mystical’. My belief is that Marketing is above all a logical process, which can be learned, measured, and applied to all businesses. And in answer to the question, ‘What’s the point of Marketing?’ I would say it’s much more than simply getting in the cash.
OK, we all know the endgame: get the cash. But before then Marketing must deliver so much more. Most of all Marketing has to connect to the audience for the business, and having connected, keep a great hold on the audience by educating and nurturing it. In a way the ‘ultimate success’ of achieving a sale doesn’t even matter in the early parts of the Marketing and Sales funnel, because it’s all about establishing and building a relationship with the audience. Even if an individual appears to say ‘No’ at first contact, if you keep on keeping on talking with them, and attracting them with high quality material, it’s quite possible that over time their ‘No’ will turn to ‘Maybe’ and then eventually ‘Yes’.
That initial attraction can come in many ways, but the most powerful is always through education. This is because education gives things to people that they recognize they don’t have, but which they need. All businesses have a vast storehouse of knowledge, through the experience and research of the members of the business, and yet this is rarely leveraged.
What this means in practice is using the huge knowledge base that exists within an enterprise, to reach out to an audience and offer high grade information which helps to educate them, and makes their lives easier. That could be as simple as making their life easier by helping them decide whether to invest in your company, or indeed some other company. The more you give them through educational marketing, clearly the more informed they will be. And here’s the key: when we feel smart and informed, we like to tell other people what we know. An informed lead who has already entered the funnel is someone who is going to spread the word. In other words, they have become a fan.
We know this across the board, with whatever we are interested in, be it new music or movies… or investment opportunities. If we like the look of something, we’ll tell other people in our network about it. So if you’re asking ‘What’s the point of Marketing’, one of the most crucial factors is this process of spreading the word – often literally by word of mouth as people reach out to each other to pass on the good news.
So of course there is a point to Marketing – it’s a hand-in-glove, absolutely intrinsic part of the process of getting any new business up and running, and then keeping it healthy… and wealthy. Don’t downplay Marketing in your startup strategy, because it should actually form the backbone of everything you do. And if you need help, seek it out!
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