Let’s Forget About Marketing for a Minute

Let’s Forget About Marketing for a Minute
Jamie Lee Wallace - Mon Nov 15, 2010 @ 08:14AM
Comments: 15

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
- Douglas Adams

I rarely attribute a business' success to its marketing. Yep, that's right. Though I am a marketer by profession, I don't think the fruits of my labors are the key to making or breaking a business. Sure, I think that good branding can create affinity, strong PR may help increase awareness, and strategic content marketing can educate and persuade your audience. However, when it comes right down to it, a business lives or dies by the quality of its products and its service.


Good marketing can give your business an initial boost, temporarily pull you out of a downward spiral, or provide some much-needed spin during a crisis; but marketing cannot make your widgets or your service better. Marketing is just a mirror, or - in some cases - smoke and a mirror. It can only reflect what's already there. Dishonest marketing distorts reality or even masks it. (Hence the common misconception that all marketers are on the same evolutionary level as sleazy used car salesmen.)

If you really want to succeed, you should focus less on your marketing and more on your products and services. Stop worrying so much about how to package and promote everything. Start worrying about whether your widget is the best widget out there. Worry about whether your customer experience provides customers with end-to-end bliss, or feels more like a slow and painful descent through the nine circles of hell. These are the things that will make a real difference to your success ...

... in the long run.

Applying good marketing to a bad product is a short-term solution. Marketers are not magicians (though we understand the confusion on that point). We can help put you and your brand in the best light, highlight your best features while taking focus off the less-than-stellar bits, and give your company a voice that people can relate to. What we cannot do is turn a sow's ear into a purse ... at least not for real. In pixels and print, we can create all kinds of positive perceptions; but once our work gets a prospect to pick up the phone or send an email it's up to you. At that point, it's no longer about whether our marketing lives up to your expectations but whether your product or service lives up to our marketing.

People don't care about your marketing. It may help them to better understand your offering, encourage them to initiate a conversation, or even convince them to make an initial purchase; BUT what will sell them on your company isn't what you say ...

It's what you do.

Do you deliver what you promised? Do you stand behind your products? Do you treat people with respect? Do you really care? These are the things that your customers will remember. These are the things your customers will share - with their peers, and their social networks. These are the things that really matter. The qualities that are valued in a human being are the same qualities that make a good company: honesty, courtesy, trustworthiness, reliability, friendliness, authenticity, and so on.

This isn't rocket science, people.

The bonus is that if you focus on just doing the best, most honest job you can do, you've just made it easy for your marketing team to make you a star. When you're doing things right, you don't need to struggle over how to position your brand or how to convince people to work with you - all you have to do is tell the truth about what you do.

Marketers, do you find that your clients worry more about how to make themselves look good vs. actually being good?

Brands, how much time do you spend on improving products vs. creating an amazing customer experience vs. marketing. Are your efforts off balance?


About the Author: Jamie is a freelance strategist, teacher, and copywriter who partners with solo entrepreneurs to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, visit her site at Suddenly Marketing, or drop her an email.

More posts by Jamie.

Image Credit: Kevin Dooley

Comments: 15


1. CJ Walker  |  my website   |   Mon Nov 15, 2010 @ 09:07AM

Jamie, thank you for a wonderful post.

If these things were as promoted and analysed as the mechanics of the matter, everyone would win, don't you think?

2. Jamie Lee Wallace   |   Mon Nov 15, 2010 @ 11:09AM

@CJ - Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked the post. I agree - if there was more focus on what making the products and services fabulous instead of just figuring out another way to SAY how fabulous they are, everyone's job would be easier and the customers would be happier.

3. Kathy Snavely  |  my website   |   Mon Nov 15, 2010 @ 11:36AM

A great example for your post is from the movie, Kate & Leopold, with Farmer's Bounty margerine that Kate enlists Leopold to market in a commercial for her - which is fine until he tastes it!

If we take the lead from our customers and stay true to what they want, we can't go wrong. Clearly, some businesses don't seem to care. Some still manage to muddle by on what I can only explain as the grace of God. Marketing is the whipped cream on a great tasting slice of pumpkin pie - so, here's to pumpkin pie!

4. Bambi Gordon  |  my website   |   Mon Nov 15, 2010 @ 01:46PM

Aahhh...it depends on your definition of marketing. If you consider marketing to be satisfying your customers (in a way that is financially sustainable for your business) and communicating to them that that is what you do....then marketing is in fact "being good" as well as "looking good".

Gr8 post. I agree that nothing will bring a bad product to its knees quicker than a great marketing campaign.

And yes - a challenge I face with some clients is that they want to 'do marketing' (by which they mean they want to promote their business - run a campaign of marketing tactics) but don't want to address whether they have a unique position in the market place where they can provide a clearly defined customer base the best product or service for them.

Makes it pretty tough for that marketing campaign to work let alone generate a ROI.

5. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Tue Nov 16, 2010 @ 01:45AM

@Kathy - What a great analogy! Because - seriously - if the pumpkin pie is just awful, no amount of whip cream is going to make you say, "yum!" ;)

@Bambi - You said it! I find that my "marketing" role often starts to slip and slide down the slippery slope towards "product development." It's too easy to go from working on how to put a product in the best light to working on how to make the product worth shining a light on at all!

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