Are You Marketing? Understanding Sales, Loyalty, and the Marketing Process

by Vince Skolny via @GrowDemand

What is marketing’s purpose?

Supermarkets’ emphasis on placing, pricing, and promoting products is the classic “Four P’s of Marketing.” The purpose is to sell stuff.

There is only one answer to that question: Selling products. Period.

While there are many approaches and nuances as to how we accomplish it, if our answer does not center on sales made, we aren’t marketing.

Arguments to the contrary are what make marketing appear confounding and complicated. It’s not, though. Marketing is trying to sell stuff. Get that through your head and disregard anything that says otherwise.

Ready?

Marketing Is Trying to Sell Stuff

It’s just that simple and there is no discussion to be had. Brand building, name recognition (much less “getting your name out there”), engagement, community building (much less likes and follows), relationship building, customer service, advertising, or any other activity not focused on sales is not marketing.

The only valid measure of marketing success.

Of course, all of those things become part of the marketing process, but only when we understand their role and function in selling things. Not before.

The moment we become focused on relationships or engagement or community to the exclusion of, rather than the creation of, sales is the moment we have ceased to be marketers.

It’s the moment we understand all of those things are not ends in themselves, but part of the process of marketing, ways to sell things, that we really get marketing.

Marketing’s Real Endgame

While the point of marketing is selling products, its real endgame concerns who is going to buy them. It is possible to successfully market products as a series of one off sales, infomercials are the classic example, it is not likely to sustain over the long run. Just consider how frequently the crop of infomercials turns over.

A sale! Marketing’s job is accomplished… but will the customer be back?

Long-run marketing strategy is not just interested in selling products, but in creating the customers who will buy them over and over and advocate to others to buy them.

Marketing’s endgame is to build a loyal community of brand advocates to whom you sell and who will sell for you.

It’s a perception shift that changes everything: Marketing becomes the continuous, ongoing process of building a loyal community of repeat customer advocates. It focuses every single thing we are and do as a business on building that loyal community of hardcore customers who will consider tattooing our brand on their asses.

The Marketing Process

The vital question is to whom will you sell? Only then can you answer how will you sell to them.

To answer it means having the end in mind at the beginning, not just to make a sale, but to make a sale in a way that earns a customer who is willing to do business with you again.

Marketing is best approached as a continuous, non-discrete four-step process:

  1. Locating potential loyal customers.
  2. Converting potential loyal customers into new paying customers.
  3. Transforming new paying customers into repeat customers.
  4. Nurturing those customers into a loyal community of brand advocates.

As we market like this over time, the process becomes self-perpetuating, as our community of customer advocates increasingly facilitates the process with and for us.

What do you think? Once you grasp The Marketing Process, its purpose and its endgame, your marketing becomes focused. The myriad of confusing tactics are crystallized to the few that make sense. In effect, your loyal community of brand advocates becomes your market.

We’ll talk more about that next week. In the meantime, let’s talk about this. Do you have questions or comments about marketing’s purpose or its endgame? Feel free to leave them here or to tweet at me.

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