The Fundamental Truths of Marketing

Why do some marketing efforts work and some (most) don’t?

Here’s what I believe: Most marketing efforts fail because they ignore some of the most fundamental truths about marketing. The variables that determine marketing success or failure are not usually high-level or complex.

Here’s an analogy. On August 6, 2012, the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, after an eight-month journey. It travelled 350 million miles and landed within 1.5 miles of its target. Yes, there was a lot of “rocket science” involved in directing Curiosity to its intended landing place, but that rocket science was largely based on some basic, fundamental truths about how the universe works, such as gravity, momentum, and the velocity of both Mars and Curiosity. Honoring and recognizing these fundamental truths enabled NASA scientists to navigate to their mark from 350 million miles away. If they had ignored these fundamental truths, Curiosity would never have reached its destination.

It’s the same with marketing. We succeed not when we have the most complex, intricate marketing programs, but when we adhere to the fundamental truths about what drives our results and what drives our customers. Over the following three issues of this newsletter I will describe “7 Fundamental Truths of Marketing,” that, similar to the rocket science that navigated Curiosity to its base after 350 million miles, will help you reach your marketing goals. As I describe these fundamental truths, I will outline practical action steps that will help you use these fundamental truths.

As a preview of these three upcoming issues, here is an overview of the 7 Fundamental Truths of Marketing.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #1: You don’t create your results. Your customers do.

I once had a humbling, yet healthy, realization. I don’t create the profits in my business. My customers do. My job is to encourage customers to act in ways that improve my results.

It’s the same with your company. You succeed when your customers do things, and your company’s marketing challenge is to encourage customers to do the things that help your business succeed.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #2: Customer = anyone whose actions affects your results

Yes, paying customers are really important to your business. But you have many important customers who never buy things from you. Think of how many people, or companies, can affect your results without ever writing you a check. Vendors and referral sources are two good examples. Do you have any other non-paying customers that affect your results?

Fundamental Marketing Truth #3: Your brand is not what you say you are. It is what your customers think you are.

A customer won’t believe a company’s marketing claims just because the company makes those claims. In virtually all cases, there is some level of disconnect between what a company says about itself and what its customers believe about it.

Closing this disconnect is one of the keys to successful marketing.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #4: You don’t brand your customers. They brand you.

Don’t ever use the branding of cattle as a metaphor for the branding of your customers. Will your customers let you hold them down and imprint your brand message on their brain? (I don’t think so.)

You do not create the brand impressions customers have of you. Your customers create them for themselves.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #5: Integrated marketing is something customers do, not something marketers do.

Marketers have long looked at integrated marketing as something they have control over. “Start with advertising, add in a pinch of PR, a dash direct marketing, a little bit of paid search and social media and, voila, you have an integrated marketing program.”

This is backwards: Integrated marketing isn’t something marketers do. It is something customers do. As customers have interactions with your company, they choose how to integrate those interactions into a comprehensive story about you.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #6: “Complementary” is more important than “consistent”

Consistency is usually set up as the paragon of branding, as in “you can get the same McDonald’s hamburger at any restaurant, anywhere in the world.”

So what? Is consistency enough to make me love your company? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Brand harmony requires more than boring consistency. It requires you to create a rich complement of customer interactions that tell an interesting, compelling story about your brand.

Fundamental Marketing Truth #7: Your external brand can never be stronger than your internal brand

Dine in a restaurant where the servers act cold and distant, and you will have a window into the soul of that restaurant’s culture. What your employees believe affects how they act and, in turn, affects the experience customers have with a company.

Want a strong brand in the minds of customers? Focus first on the brand inside your company.

Stay tuned over the next three issues of this newsletter for more details and practical applications of how to use these 7 Fundamental Truths of Marketing to help your businesses succeed.

Steve Yastrow

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