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Making Marketing Fun

By Tony Ajah
There could be more volume of books and articles written on marketing or market related topics than on any other business issue that I know. Research has it that more money is 'wasted' in marketing than in any other human activity (outside government). Yet, it appears that the number one business challenge is in the market, or rather marketing.

Like I mentioned in my work on The Business of Marketing, businesses all over the world struggle because they simply haven't found ways to generate constant streams of customers and keep them buying time after time. The success and failure of any business is entirely down to how the business is marketed; the sure business maker and breaker.

To many people, marketing is becoming harder as the competition is becoming fiercer each passing day. Not too many of us see marketing as glitzy; the rest see it as either complicated, a burden, a necessary evil, stressful, and sometimes mysterious. As a result, they feel shy or scared, and often time lack the confidence to market their 'product-service' to the targeted market. They are probably afraid of failure or rejection. But if you must remain in business, you must be in control of what goes on in the market, whether you feel like it or not. To succeed in business, you must attain some level of marketing mastery, either as an individual or as an organization.

Marketing is a natural aspect of your business, or rather what it should be. I have done a lot of work for enterprises and most of their worries tilt towards the market and marketing uncertainties. How can we demystify this marketing thing, and make this all important part of our business life fun?

Obviously, you don't need a degree in marketing to be a skillful marketer. No. I have seen people with several marketing qualifications who are still in a big marketing mess. For this piece of writing to be very beneficial to you, you've got to discard every misconception and ill-feeling you previously harbour regarding marketing.

The marketing environment is dynamic. It's good that we understand what works in today's marketplace, and how best to tap into it. Many business executives may have employed almost all the marketing mix - They may have a good price for their wonderful 'product-service', known the right places to market it, done their promotion very well, and even played the politics but still miss the profit. I think that something must be wrong with the whole mix.

Marketing is everything you do to attract and keep customers in your business. And it is a combination of logic (and sometimes intuition), and connecting them to synchronize with emotion of the buyer. If the old marketing techniques don't provide the desired result, it's very imperative we try something new. We would be looking at two fundamental marketing ingredients that dozens tend to neglect during marketing exercise.

Understanding the Prospective Buyer
You shortchange yourself if you don't know who you are marketing to. It's usually difficult to relate to a person you barely understand in any way. A good understanding of who is buying helps you to build the exact platform to achieving your objective effortlessly. This comes naturally when you first establish rapport with him or her. Rapport is the link that connects you, your prospective buyer and your 'product-service'. Whenever it's in place, reaching on agreement becomes easier.

Marketing is not a blind game. And neither what you realize at the end of a long talk or demonstration, but the point you reach while you are busy connecting with the prospective buyer, bearing in mind his or her unique nature. Excellent marketers don't have their eyes closed on the prospect; they focus on them, and how to get their product-service across effectively. Knowing who you are marketing to set the tone for the rest of the transaction. If you don't know who is buying and why he is buying, and how you 'product-service' would benefit him, how would you sell? You would ultimately loose him and there would be no sell.

You would primarily need to determine your customers 'make-up'. For instance, his personality and communication style, and then channel what you've got to meeting his true make-up. Resolving this earlier would give you access into his comfort zone- the zone where he opens his wallet for you happily. He now sees you as a friend who understands what he really wants. Your ability to move into your buyers 'comfort zone' sets a stage for a very positive working relationship even after the first sale. (Relationship is the anchor that holds every business, including marketing). When you fail to put up a relationship you miss bigger opportunities afterwards.

As people differ, so are the strategies for reaching them. As we are different, so are our needs, expectation and drive. To help you understand your buyer better, here is my advice: listen, observe and follow through. But it all begins in listening.

We fail to spot chances when we fail to listen. Closed ears are closed opportunities, and you end up making presentation to the wrong audience. And when you have the right buyer, you spend time talking about your 'product-service' features and not the benefit; I mean the 'buyer's benefit'. This is like majoring on the minor. Benefits strike a chord in the mind all the time. Always remember that, benefit, value and quality are all relative. You only sell customized benefit, that is, what benefit means to the buyer. So, listen, listen, listen. Listening makes marketing easier.

Position Your 'Product-Service'
Your position is the place you occupy in the mind of your prospective buyer; it is how you are perceived by him or her. And it is perception driven. One significant thing that counts in marketing is the customer's perception of your 'product-service'. Your duty as a good marketer is to create the right perception. Marketing is a game of mental warfare; a battle of perception, and not of product or service. The rule of this game is manipulating those perceptions so as to appear as the best and also the most preferred. There are no best products, not even one. All that exist in the world are perceptions in the mind of the customer or prospect.

It's very important to know the person you are marketing to, and more importantly how to position your 'product-service' to reaching him. It is your primary duty to construct a bridge that would make your marketing messages (spoken and unspoken) to get to, the receiver's mind precisely. This is the whole idea of positioning. Precision is the key. If you miss it here, you may hardly regain it.

People have several reasons for buying. This is where you employ the knowledge you previously had about the buyer and then sell his benefit to him to her. While doing this, you should have one question in mind: how would I position this 'product-service' to meet the immediate needs of this prospective customer more then those of my competition? Answering this question earlier makes the rest of the work easier. Of course you are not the only one seeking the attention of the buyer.

To get your position right, you must have first defined it. I mean you must have take up a position that best suit you - your passion, uniqueness, specialty, and then drive that position to a conclusive end. If you fail to determine your position, you end up confusing yourself and your buyer, and what you get is rejection.

The bottom-line of marketing is to make a profitable sale. The sale is the ultimate marketing event - you are marketing to sell. It's one long journey that transits at certain ends. (Let's leave it for another day). So, understand the buyer, position your 'product-service', and enjoy the experience. But remain confident, be consistent, professional, and patient and maintain your excitement. And when you get your 'product-service' in the mind of your buyer, remain there.

There is much to say than this space can contain. For a comprehensive marketing training programme for your team, feel free to get my attention. Marketing has just begun to be fun, and it's up to you to make it happen!

Tony Ajah is a highly consulted Business Growth Strategist. He is the Principal Strategist, TA Strategic Solutions, a Lagos-based firm that is into business growth and development. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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