From Chapter 14 of The Savvy Guide To Making More Money
Talking to your market so that your customers will listen
I bristle when I hear that marketing is just a buzzword and consists of nothing but jargon. Marketing is about finding the best way to communicate with the people in your market. Like market research, marketing is neither inaccessible, nor mysterious. It is the step that comes before sales - and nobody would ever say, 'Ah, sales, that's just a buzzword, it's only a catchphrase.'
We have grown accustomed to talking about marketing only in relation to business. Yet, throughout our lives, we are all involved in marketing. Say you want to meet new people in your local city. By choosing to go to a busy bar or joining a class, you're effectively putting yourself in the best environment to make that ambition a reality. You are marketing yourself by putting yourself in front of your target audience of new friends. During my time in college, I went to several careers fairs that the Careers Department had organized. I used to walk around the stands picking up some brochures; I spoke to the companies and universities exhibiting, gave them my contact details, etc. This was a very clear form of marketing on my part. I went to a place where lots of future clients (aka employers) were interested in hearing my message (aka my CV).
In many cases, we do it so naturally that we don't realize we are doing it at all. That's because marketing is not just a catchphrase but the child of common sense: you have to make sure a client, or an employer, knows about your offering, and that they are aware of the ways it can benefit them. Marketing is putting your product or service in front of your target audience, and telling them that your offering is the answer to the problem that they are actively trying to solve.
But unless we have defined a strategy for it, marketing can easily expand to take up most of the day; without a strategy, it can also become a reactive activity, where I'm forever responding and never initiating an interaction on my own terms. For example, I come across an online forum where I contribute some nugget of advice; then I get an e-mail about an event, sign up to go to that tomorrow; I get a call from a potential customer, spend an hour doing an e-mail for them; I write an article, send it to a couple of magazines and some blogs in an effort to get it published; I send out three tweets; I spend two hours reading updates; I price some advertising space in the local paper. It's now 5 p.m. and I haven't started doing any of the follow-up calls that might actually have generated sales.
The reason that I espouse KPIs as strongly as I do is because they keep us focused on what can really make a difference. I could get twenty different articles written and featured in various different magazines, newspapers, blogs and e-zines. What a result. Unfortunately this might have a low impact if the magazines have a readership that I can't really give a value to; if the newspapers are distributed in a part of the world that doesn't have access to my offering; if the blog has zero hits; or if the e-zine editor forgets to mention that I'm the author of the piece, which means the reader has no idea that I wrote it and has no means of contacting me. With the right marketing approach, I could have saved myself much fruitless effort, as my articles would have reached the people who needed to hear from me.