Marketing is the essential driving force behind any vision or sale that a business creates. In fact, after the pandemic took a hit on a lot of businesses, Salesforce found that sixty-six percent of marketers expect revenue growth over the next 12 to 18 months. Whether you sell a product or service, whether you’re a startup or a multimillion-dollar company, marketing is the difference between a missed opportunity and the right customer seeing your business.
But, it’s easy to tell business owners that, so instead we will show you from our own experience as marketers here at marketANDgrow, the strengths we find in marketing. Marketing is a journey that changes every step of the way. It takes both a creative mind and a strategic thinker to market. We wrote this blog to share our core beliefs about success by answering five big questions:
- How does marketing make a difference?
- Why do people give up on marketing?
- What is the mindset of a marketer?
- Where does a good marketing campaign begin?
- How important is marketing to an organization?
Below we also pulled quotes from six interviews that our founder, Sajid Islam, had with small business owners who used marketing to grow. They learned a lot of tough lessons along the way, and even so, came to these interviews with nothing but excitement and respect for what marketing can do. You can find quick links to their interviews at the very end.
How does marketing make a difference?
The core of marketing is attracting new and maintaining existing relationships while detracting relationships you do not want. Whether that be building a relationship with like-minded individuals or creating meaningful relationships with customers and their attention, both begin with a kind of understanding of one another.
Marketing then takes those relationships and uses them to build a growing business. In fact, this is a function that is crucial to building a brand. If you want to scale and grow, you need to get the marketing formula right.
For instance, consider Allen Korenstein, the CEO and founder of Camino Brewing Co. in San Jose. In his interview, he talked about a variety of different marketing techniques and how some of the best marketing can be just in your logo. Read how he is actively building a relationship with his consumers just by being on the shelves:
“We can a lot of the beer that we make. We have a distributor that covers Northern California, and that’s marketing because every time somebody sees our brand they make those connections. We have a lot of big competitors that control the shelf space in the big retailers, and we’ve got a guy who works for us full-time that is just elbowing our competitors for shelf space. He’s doing whatever he can to get that display. Having a great brand with good visuals, good color, and then having a story like ours that’s really authentic goes a long way.”
– Allen Korenstein
Once you have made those connections, the next step is educating people about how your product is best suited to solve their pain. When people are well-informed about your product, sales will increase. When you use multiple avenues to reach the heart of your audience, you create revenue options. Forward-thinking and innovative strategies bring attention and eventually customers. When you think differently about your approach to find one that works almost exclusively for your business, that’s when breakthroughs are made. See this at play in the next example:
A marketing relationship with your consumers can be literal as well. LaShawn Kenley, founder, and designer of Sun Gods talked about in her interview how she uses Instagram DMs to connect with her people on a much closer basis. While it takes more time, individually DMing people about their offers or sales means a lot more loyalty amongst those who follow her. She also uses DMing to her advantage when it comes to people joining her on her Instagram Lives:
“During our Instagram Lives, we have someone on our team that will take screenshots of usernames. That way we can send follow-up ‘thank yous’ to them. We also target those people for a spot on our feature IG lives, because 9 times out of 10 they might want to be on around the same time.”
– LaShawn Kenley
Check out our Instagram @mktandgrow.
With a little rethinking, Kenley created a unique marketing strategy that made a difference in her business’s community. When making connections with your audience is a goal that you prioritize, people will feel seen. Then, those relationships turn into a base you can rely on in the toughest times.
Marketing is natural
Let’s see a different kind of marketing example. Sometimes, people associate marketing and advertising with unnecessary or a waste of money, but in reality that is far from the truth. If you were to look at nature and see how animals market themselves, you will find that marketing is innate in all of us.
For instance, the majestic elk of Colorado. During the rutting season, the males grow huge beautiful antlers. It takes three months for them to reach maturity, and by that time they can weigh 40 pounds. All of this work and struggle, just to market themselves to the female elk and dissuade any other bull elk from messing with them.
Source: Winter Park Colorado
Or how about the Australian peacock spider? That cute little bug must dance for its life! Having a beautiful flash isn’t enough, the males also have to learn an intricate dance in order to woo the females. If he fails, he becomes her next meal. Here at marketANDgrow, we’re not really dancers, except maybe on our TikTok. But, we understand the kind of pressure and complete dedication required to create a good marketing campaign.
Source: Peacockspiderman on YouTube
Not all marketing is about attraction. The western diamondback rattlesnake is a fierce example of the kind of marketing that dissuades. When you hear its rattle, you know that the snake is telling the creatures around to back off and stay away or it will attack and bite them. This is an example of violence being advertised or marketed. This is similar to the kind of marketing the US military does when they announce new hardware or their latest weapon. It signals to other countries that the US is strong and it would be wise not to mess with them.
These animals all use their unique features to advertise different things. So, don’t go thinking that marketing is evil or unneeded because, in reality, it’s only here to help if you are cautious of the signs. Now that we know marketing is here to help your business grow to its fullest potential, let’s take a look at the pitfalls and victories you may encounter on your business’s unique marketing journey.
Why do people give up on marketing?
This question is at the core of marketANDgrow, since its the reason our founder Sajid Islam began our business. Sajid founded marketANDgrow after being sick and tired of seeing so many entrepreneurs and business owners lose their shirts on their first ad campaigns, only to let their discouragement hold them back from one of the greatest advertising channels available.
The first hump you need to overcome is unrealistic expectations. While it’s true that marketing can increase revenue in sometimes mere hours, that isn’t going to be the reality for everyone unless you have the necessary resources in place ahead of time. Think of it like fitness, you can not expect to hit the gym and be super fit overnight. Also, if you’re going from no marketing to your first campaign, you should expect a much greater leap than from your first campaign to your second. Don’t be discouraged when the initial numbers don’t meet your desired expectations. That’s ok, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Having a marketing goal (KPI) is vital; however, you should remain adaptable. Your data and results should be a source of encouragement for your next campaign, never a reason to give up.
Secondly, starting with a weak marketing strategy produces weak results or barely even moves the needle. Imagine trying to push a tractor-trailer by yourself; unless you are strong, you will barely move the trailer yet you will feel defeated. When you’re just getting started, it’s hard to know what is going to appeal to your target audience. But, there are a few things that work every time: good branding and a solid strategy. If you’re not really sure what that looks like there are many blogs, just like this, on our website for you to learn from. Or, just let us do the heavy lifting and book a consultation with marketANDgrow.
Thirdly, if you don’t allocate the proper resources, you’re not going to get the results you want, which means you’re more likely to quit. This was a big topic in the podcast we made with Brahma Mishra, founder of the online video platform MeetMonk. He advised that in the initial stages, you should be putting at least 10% of your revenue or projected revenue into marketing. Here’s why:
“One of the most important ways to be in front of the customers is by spending a little bit more money and doing a good job in advertising. My ex-boss taught me this: that best is the enemy of good. Many founders, especially technical ones like myself, come from a tech background. I can do product development in my sleep, but marketing is not intuitive to me. I’ve learned that if I keep fine-tuning the product, I can spend all my time, energy, and money on it, but nobody will buy it unless I put it in front of the potential customers.”
– Brahma Mishra
Folks, take advice from Mishra, stop tweaking and start marketing.
Finally, in the beginning, it may be easy to fall into the trap of tactics and gimmicks. These get-big-quick shortcuts usually do not work or not going to satisfy long-term goals. It’s like those crash diets that people jump on where they eat one grape per day for 15 days to shed a few pounds immediately but eventually they fall off the wagon and end up putting on more weight than they started with. Marketing is the practice of understanding your future customers’ challenges and how your product or service gives them their desired outcome. Then, use your communication to attract them to you and your business. Tried and true methods have data to back them up, that’s why they’re widely used. Be wary of unrealistic promises.
Check out our Instagram @mktandgrow.
Despite all of this, we will end this section with advice from Greg Kihlström, who works with Career Gig. If you follow all the above tips, and you are certain you are not going to give up on marketing entirely, sometimes it’s ok to admit that some marketing campaigns are taking too many of your resources than it’s worth. The sunk-cost fallacy can have a tight grip and because of this phycological phenomenon, it’s always a tough decision to make:
“There are situations where it’s time to shut something down. It’s not necessarily shut your company down, but it’s time to say, ‘You know what, we really tried to do XYZ, and as much as we thought it was the right timing, it just isn’t working.’ You can’t be afraid to explore both options and sometimes it takes courage to say, ‘I put a lot of time and sweat into something, but it’s time to focus on something else instead.’ It’s never an easy decision, and trusting yourself can sometimes be a hard thing to do.”
– Greg Kihlström
What is the mindset of a marketer?
We are a group of individuals who make sure we are always in the right mindset. This includes staying focused and positive when those hiccups do arise and knowing how to navigate through them.
1. Have a growth mindset
There is no failure. Either we are winning or learning. If you step into a campaign knowing that whatever happens will be an opportunity for growth and understanding, then there will never be a wasted marketing campaign.
2. Don’t be a know-it-all
Here at marketANDgrow, we are all about learning as much as we can, even from the most unexpected sources. Don’t be closed off from receiving help and learning from people from all walks of life. Continually, be engaged and excited to understand who your audience is and how to best reach them. This is best shown when LaShawn Kenley says in her interview:
“Know your consumer. Be passionate and educated about what you’re doing and what you’re putting out there. When you are knowledgeable about your brand or your service/product, it’s extremely helpful to get you over any kind of humps. If you don’t know the demographic, then you don’t know the person that you’re speaking to. How can you create content if you don’t know the person that you’re creating the content for? Keep learning, keep excelling, and don’t give up.”
– LaShawn Kenley
3. Be curious
This doesn’t just pertain to your audience or your consumer but to everything and everyone. There are lessons to be learned from everywhere, and a simple ‘hello’ to a stranger can turn into a whole new perspective. Be genuinely curious about other people, about their jobs, about how they are helping the bubble they’re in, and whether they have advice for you. You will be surprised at what you learn.
Also, stay updated and relevant, especially in your field. For instance, Sajid Islam publishes the This Week in Marketing podcast every Monday, and every week there is a substantial amount of marketing news. In this day in age, you have to stay on top of what’s going on to keep up with constantly changing times. By the way, if you’ve been meaning to keep up on marketing news, tune into the podcast every week, or subscribe to our email newsletter at the bottom of the page.
Getting stuck in your ways is the pitfall of too many campaigns. Just because something was successful this time doesn’t mean it will be successful forever. Do not rest on success: it should be a jumping-off point, not the destination. Use the success to your advantage. Then, when all is said and done, go find something better. It’s easy to innovate when ‘rapid experimentation’ is a term in your business’s dictionary. Keeping everything the same leads to stagnation.
5. Be willing to be challenged
If you take nothing else from this section, take this. All failures are lessons. No failures are true if you learn from them. Lessons mean a better chance of success in the future. This is what Greg Kihlström has learned in his many years:
“The thing I always keep in mind is that with the true icons of business, if you read their biographies, count how many times they fail over their career before they don’t… I’ve always learned more from failure than from success.”
– Greg Kihlström
Where does a good marketing campaign begin?
Good marketing campaigns begin with a good understanding of purpose. There are a few questions that you should be asking before a campaign begins.
- Why this campaign?
- Who is it for?
- Why should they even care?
- What will be the outcome of this campaign?
Then, the trick is to work backward from there. A good marketing strategy can make all the difference between success and failure. Keep these questions in mind to make a good marketing campaign.
But how do you make a great campaign? It takes a combination of strategy and heart. There are different paths that lead to success, and below we have all kinds of examples of entrepreneurs in the DMV area who used the cards they were dealt to create meaningful and fulfilling marketing campaigns.
Bettina Stern, owner of Chaia Tacos in DC, talks about the way that she built her business from a place of passion. She attributes Chaia’s success to the wonderful culture that she is promoting every time she opens her doors in the morning:
“I believe that great small businesses have great cultures. The way that we’re building Chaia, the way that we’re building our company, is what matters most. It’s my job, it’s my business partner’s job, and it’s my team’s job to build this company from the heart. We want to grow Chaia’s root system so we can build something sound and strong that can withhold the test of time.”
– Bettina Stern
Check out our Instagram @mktandgrow.
That’s exactly what marketing is meant to do: grow roots. So often it can be pushed aside to not be as important as sales, but creating a strong brand means creating a strong relationship with your customers. For Chaia, returning customers are the backbone of their shop, so getting more people through the door means showing off their beautiful food and creating a network that grows stronger with each purchase.
For another perspective, consider Alicia Sokol, owner of Barre 3 on 14th street. Coming from a public relations background, she talks about how she took her knowledge and lessons from her past and used it to market her passion project:
“Public relations is one of those things, when you have a business, you need to promote it and you need to be able to tell your story. You need to be able to say why you have the business and encourage people to check it out. I’m really glad that all those years of finding and shaping stories at past jobs have allowed me to feel comfortable in finding and shaping my story.”
– Alicia Sokol
Check out our Instagram @mktandgrow.
Storytelling is wildly important in marketing. People like to hear stories, they stop and listen – it makes people tune in. Data is just numbers if there’s no story attached. Being able to take your past and weave it into every part of your marketing means you’ll have an undeniable authenticity that people will naturally gravitate towards.
Finally, one of the great components of a marketing campaign is meeting your audiences where they are and speaking in their language. Greg Kihlström instructs us to be mindful of where we post, to find the consumer where they are. Yes, it’s true, that everyone is on social media. But nobody is marketing to everyone. In the same vein, not every platform is beneficial to your business. For instance, there’s no reason to put resources towards Pinterest if your business doesn’t sell a tangible product:
“Overall, it’s not just about being on the platforms. It’s about, are we able to offer content that’s valuable and really attuned to that platform? Otherwise, I’m just going to feel like I hit a button and send it to all platforms, and that just tends to fall flat.”
– Greg Kihlström
How important is marketing to an organization?
Finally, after all of this searching, we have come back to this all-important question. We have meandered through stories and advice; we have discovered how deep marketing can change the direction of a business and the lives of those around it. We know where great campaigns begin, and where they end up if they go right. It has been nothing short of inspiring.
So then, where should marketing sit in an organization? The marketing chair should be at the right hand of the CEO. It’s easy to love sales since they talk numbers. But what drives those numbers is marketing. If you want to ensure your future, that’s when you turn to marketing. A sale only happens when your future customer knows that your product/service exists and can solve their problem.
For instance, think of Mcdonald’s and its iconic golden arches. Imagine you’re on a road trip and you’ve been driving for four hours. You glance to the side of the road at a billboard advertising Mcdonald’s and you remember their brand. In your mind, you know it’s reasonable food that I can have super fast from past positive experiences with Mcdonald’s. Then when hunger hits, Mcdonald’s is already on the top of your mind, and it triggers you to veer off an exit to the nearest Mcdonald’s. That is the importance of marketing -building connections from past experiences and turning them into positive future experiences. It’s about being there at the right time, to the right people to create revenue.
Marketing builds a future. Allen Korenstein understood this when he said, “I’m all about the return. How do we create a brand that gives returns for days, months, years, or a lifetime to come?” The funny thing is, you have to take a risk first to make yourself more steady in the future. There are less risky strategies than others, but every marketing strategy begins with a leap.
As LaShawn Kenley says, “One thing I’ve learned is that we can survive. If we can survive a pandemic, we can survive pretty much anything from here on out.”
Take the leap today. Let marketANDgrow work for your business by subscribing to our YouTube @marketANDgrow and putting your email address into the box below. Furthermore, if you’d rather us give you a personalized consultation for your business, book a discovery call.