The purpose of marketing

Marketing should not be considered an expense, rather an investment.

What is marketing?

These days the term gets mixed up with public relations, digital marketing, social media etc and so it is not uncommon for many businesses to believe that marketing means a flashy website and/or a social media presence on one or more platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to name just a few.

Whilst these mechanisms certainly all have a place, there really is no one size fits all solution here and to be effective, it is important to understand four key things:

1- What do I want to achieve through my marketing?

2- What message do I need to send?

3- What are the most appropriate channels for me to disseminate the message?

4- What is my budget and expected return on investment?

Let’s deal with these in order.

For most businesses, the Wikipedia definition of marketing typically applies, that is: “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising”.

The majority of business owners will enlist marketing to enable more sales and hence income, but there may be other reasons to undertake this such as promotion of an event, build market presence or enhance brand image for example.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to quantify the expected outcome in measurable terms so that you can determine whether the marketing initiative(s) is/are successful or not and hence see whether the technique would be useful to continue to use in the future.

Knowing what specific message you want to send is actually the most important part of the process and not as easy to do as it may seem.

A core concept in marketing is “the hook” which is the bit that’s going to attract the attention in the first place.

Since the average attention span for consumers has dropped from 12 to around eight seconds, it is vital that your message is succinct and engaging. Once you have engaged, you would then be looking for the recipient to take some kind of action leading to purchasing your product or service.

Next time you watch the adverts on television, ask yourself whether it is clear whether the next action they require you to take is clear or not. If not, chances are that the advertising won’t be as effective as it should be.

Where you place your (effective) marketing message has a dramatic impact on the results you can expect, a bit like throwing good seed on poor soil.

This is why it is well worth thinking about where your target audience is most likely to show up and be active. Mum and Dad businesses may well gain traction by posting on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram whereas bigger businesses are more likely to be active on LinkedIn or more public forums like radio and television.

Of course posting advertisements online or in print via the Star Newspaper Group should enable widespread visibility of whatever it is you wish to promote as well.

Some may disagree with me, but for me, marketing should be thought of as an investment not an expense.

So, if the intent of your marketing is to increase sales, then unless your return on investment is greater than your marketing expense, why on earth would you do it?

This is where defining a marketing budget and being able to track the financial impact of the marketing initiative itself really matters.

There is no fixed percentage return to be achieved but you should define what you require at the start of the process.

Ian Ash ACC, AInstIB

Managing Director OrgMent Business Solutions –