Who Needs Marketing Anyway?!
Every now and then, I come across a business owner who tells me, “We don’t do any marketing!” or “We can’t afford marketing”. They are not necessarily proud of it, and most say they wished that were not the case. Upon further conversations and an occasional thorough Marketing Needs Assessment, it becomes clear that they do engage in marketing activities… they just did not think they were.
What they actually mean when they say, “We don’t do marketing!”, is that they do not engage in well-planned tactics – meaning, there is no strategy, no goals, no budget, no coordination, and no continuity. We call what they do ‘Committing Random Acts of Marketing’.
Many small and medium-sized businesses engage in certain activities not realizing that some of them are actually fragments of marketing. Examples of these activities include: participation in business networking, membership in trade organizations, having a website, handing out business cards, taking clients to lunch, and hanging a sign on the building.
Like every other aspect of your organization (or any multifaceted activity), marketing is more effective when it is thought out well in advance and organized accordingly. However, many small businesses do not have the resources required – such as people, skills, funds, and time – to properly formulate and execute their marketing activities. Marketing efforts deliver maximum benefits and returns on investments when both a rock solid foundation of strategy and a game plan are in place. Companies without all of these necessary resources to put toward marketing are either doing most activities ad hoc, or resort to one of the methods mentioned below.
Traditionally, as in before Fractional CMO & Marketing, organizations only had three basic options to manage their marketing function and activities:
1. DIY: The owner or manager of a business does what he or she can with insufficient resources, reaping only limited and inconsistent results at best.
2. In-House Marketing Department: Those who can afford to hire one, often greatly benefit from a talented team. The main drawback of such an approach is that it costs too much, and many small to medium-sized businesses simply cannot justify the expense.
3 Agency: Hiring a specialty agency to handle a particular aspect of your marketing initiatives (for example, advertising), could work well. However, hiring an agency to manage your entire marketing strategy is problematic for two reasons:
- Agencies have a myopic view favoring the marketing activity they specialize in. An advertising agency will always recommend ‘running ads’ to solve practically any marketing challenge… and a social media agency – you guessed it – will recommend more social media presence to advance any marketing goal.
- Most agencies also have a dual loyalty flaw. You pay your advertising bureau a fee to buy ad space or time for you, and the media outfit they buy it from pays them commission too. With this “double dipping” arrangement in mind: Why would they try to save you money? In other situations, agencies are compensated by the business that hired them, based on a percentage of the spend. Here again, there is no incentive for the agency to minimize your expenditure.
After more than three decades of not only managing marketing departments, but managing and owning businesses as well, I knew there had to be a better way for small and medium-sized business owners to do marketing right, without doing it themselves, hiring an expensive in-house team, or relying on a traditional agency. About six years ago, I developed the concept of fractional CMO and marketing services, to give business owners the opportunity to engage an expert team of dedicated professionals as a part-time and outsourced solution that plans and implements all aspects of marketing for clients.
The answer to the question I posed above – “Who Needs Marketing?” – is obvious: Every business needs marketing! With Fractional CMO and Marketing’s unique arrangement of a complete, outsourced, part-time marketing department, practically every business can afford one! Contact us today so you can learn what our complimentary marketing needs assessment reveals about your organization’s marketing.
Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer
What Is Fractional CMO & Marketing?
Fractional CMO & Marketing is ‘Your Outsource Marketing Department’ when you need expert marketing leadership and marketing services to accelerate growth and improve profitability, but you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer or your own marketing department. Our unique arrangement is the most efficient, innovative, and cost-effective formula for you. Click on the image to the left to watch a short video.
We Help When You Need To:
- Generate more of the right kind of leads
- Close more sales faster
- Get repeat sales
- Formulate a more effective message
- Produce powerful sales tools
- Establish brand awareness, recognition, and preference
- Differentiate your brand from the competition
- Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Develop lasting relationships with customers
- Introduce new products
Stand Out from the Crowd with Brand Differentiation
We all remember back in high school there was always that one classmate who fearlessly expressed his style passionately pursued an unusual hobby, and wasn’t afraid to “march to the beat of his own drum”. Being unique makes a person or business more fascinating, and leaves an indelible impression on others. Finding what makes your organization truly different from competitors – and then leveraging that in branding and messaging – is essential to stand out from the crowd.
Here are three successful examples of companies that clearly understand brand differentiation.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
For years, consumers looked to Taco Bell for their Tex-Mex fast food fix until Chipotle came along. This urban-modern restaurant chain stormed the market by competing on fresh, high-quality food instead of price. When they had a setback due to some cases of foodborne illness, they made and kept a substantial promise to improve their already high standards, and they bounced back. From witty facts on their drink cups to a ‘for real’ ad campaign giving a clear focus on the chain’s fresh ingredients, Chipotle has built brand equity.
T – Mobile
Having trouble with your mobile phone service? Oh well! Unfortunately, cell carriers used to be notorious for their apathy towards their customers’ needs, and quite often have left those customers feeling as if solving service issues was more of a burden and less of their job. Then T-Mobile arrived, with a brand strategy that differentiated the company from its competitors by emphasizing simplicity, fairness, and value. The organization’s approach apparently had an effect on the industry, as quality, caring customer service became a selling point for its competitors shortly thereafter. The company’s uniqueness is apparent from their bright pink color scheme, paired with casual and humorous messaging, and even a weekly giveaway of movie tickets, coffee, or other small but appreciated items. T-Mobile continues to push the boundaries of what is expected from a mobile service provider.
If you’ve seen one recreational trailer, you’ve seen them all – and if you believe that, you’ve probably never taken a good look at an Airstream! Since being founded in 1929, the company has endeavored to make their traveling trailers unique and different from anything else on the market. Its sleek silver cabin is an iconic image of cross-country road trips, and it makes this brand one of the most recognized trailers on the road. Airstream focuses on the intangible desires of its customers and embraces “retro” design and style. What you get with an Airstream is a classic, vintage exterior with a stylish, modern interior, and uniqueness that no other travel trailer on the market today can match.
Viral Marketing Explained
By Ginger Mace, Editor and Producer
Last month we shared some of our favorite examples of edgy marketing using video. As you could see by the number of viewers, they all “went viral”. Often this is the case with edgy campaigns because of their unexpected nature, and the compulsion of wanting to share something interesting and unique with others. Viral marketing, stated simply, is creating awareness through specific information being shared quickly, usually by the sharer’s choice, can be word of mouth and resemble an endorsement, and the spread resembles that of a contagious virus. Even with this broad explanation, most people associate “going viral” with social media (usually YouTube specifically) because of how simply, rapidly, and immediately content there can be passed around. Considering the prevalence of platforms to share information online, these tools certainly help with a goal of “going viral”.
Notable Viral Marketing Advantages
- Saving Cost, Effort, and Time
Certain marketing activities can be expensive, and tapping into the power of an interested audience to spread your message for you can make all the difference with a tight budget. Also, your content is being proliferated by a marketing team working for free, saving on costs there as well. Whether your company or brand information is being virally communicated online or in person, people worldwide can both spread and be exposed to your message. And most viral marketing when it happens, happens fast. How else could a business get this kind of exposure so quickly with no advertising dollars spent and no additional work being done?
- Positive Impressions Happen Naturally
Viral marketing is powerful, and when it’s successful, content resonates with those who receive it. They have the choice to share it, and they actually want to. They are deciding to further “invest” in the brand or product without being asked, nudged, or pressured. They are in control. Traditional methods of promotion sometimes have the tendency to feel demanding and invasive, as if the consumer must act according to the advertiser’s schedule or needs. Even though an organization really has no control or say over when or if their efforts will go viral, it still reaps the rewards in the end – chief among them, making a more positive impression on consumers.
Many companies have enjoyed higher sales and brand loyalty through viral marketing, including Orabrush, Poo~Pourri, and Dollar Shave Club. We took a closer look at these organizations in last month’s newsletter, and invite you to read “Edgy Marketing: How to Do it Well” (accessible from the bottom paragraph below).
Notable Viral Marketing Disadvantages
- Negative and Erroneous Impressions Go Viral Too
Just as viral marketing can create positive sentiment toward a brand, the opposite can happen as well. A consumer’s compulsion to share applies whether what they see or hear resonates positively or negatively with them. Unfortunately, a lot of information can be found both online and offline that may paint a different picture than reality. Three simple examples of this phenomenon are a statement shared without context, a short clip of a video that doesn’t accurately reflect what the rest of the video shows, and a negative experience with a product that very likely could’ve happened due to the user’s expectations. Without further research or more knowledge that would give insight into all sides of the situation, someone would accept what they found at face value and share it without knowing the whole story – or that there was more to the story. Scandals that originated through viral marketing have brought companies to their knees, resulting in tarnished reputations (sometimes permanently), damaged goodwill, tanked product sales, and wasted time trying to fight rumors, misinformation, and even disinformation.
- A Difficult Beast to Tame
Attempts to capitalize on viral marketing can be planned by a business or happen spontaneously with the right piece of content at the right time. Even following the closest thing to a blueprint – another company’s moves that resulted in successfully going viral – doesn’t guarantee anything. Any project with the goal of becoming viral is unpredictable at best, can’t always be planned for, and worthwhile results are far from promised. It is very challenging to figure out what information has a good chance for virality, because people are fickle, and so are market trends. Wasted time and money are definite risks of trying to craft the perfect prospective viral content piece.
Also, a company has less control over its messaging once the viral marketing beast is set free. If any erroneous items (like those referred to in the previous section) pick up steam, there is no way to stop their spread and the negative impact they may have – events will play out, and the company will have to handle the fallout. Less power over an organization’s content includes not being able to regulate the possibility of repeated views or impressions, risking consumers being exposed to the point of annoyance and market oversaturation. This can lead to snubbing that originally fascinating information altogether.
Marketing campaigns must be measurable to determine effectiveness… but viral marketing is notoriously difficult to measure, and due to its unpredictable and unexpected nature, just as hard to make plans around. As an example, suppose an organization publishes a strategic tweet on the night of the Oscars ceremony, cleverly playing off the movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture that night, and the tweet reaches viral status. What is the organization’s next tweet going to say? Were the company’s marketing objectives met? How are the results of this good fortune going to be quantified, assessed, and evaluated? What are the expected or desired results anyway? What can be done to try and expand awareness from a simple, single tweet to other products and the firm as an entity? How will the organization capitalize on its newfound fame, and will it be able to before momentum is lost? Quick and strategic answers would be needed to all of these questions (and even more), in order to maximize benefits to the company of going viral. And in an ideal situation, the answers, as well as marketing plans and tactics initiated by them, would’ve been ready and waiting; but going viral presents a set of circumstances requiring organizations (and their management and ownership) to think fast on their feet, pivot at a moment’s notice, and be adaptable. That is, if they want to get the most out of the viral marketing they managed to experience.
For some interesting cases of highly successful edgy marketing using videos, that enjoyed viral status and the sales to go along with it, be sure to read the corresponding article in last month’s newsletter. Video is not a requirement to go viral though, and in some cases, successful viral marketing of a brand’s message or content doesn’t even require a username. Next month, we will explore some examples of virality without videos. Believe it or not, one of the examples is from 1956!