Sometimes I like to test and challenge common assumptions, even if they go against my own interests (at least on the surface).
So here is one: “It is important to really understand marketing for your business, and implement a well-thought-out marketing plan.”
That would seem like an obvious statement to make from someone who knows a bit about marketing.
But I’ll get heretical here and make this counter-argument.
“You have a viable business when you don’t need any outbound marketing or advertising. If you have that prerequisite, a great marketing strategy will incrementally improve your business results.”
The above statement certainly deflates the importance of marketers like me. But pragmatically (and looking at the business data I’ve viewed over the past couple of decades) one really important fact comes to mind.
If you are succeeding in business, virtually all of your customers will either arise from repeat clients or referrals (and I expect if you are just starting out, your “new” customers will have had some relationship or connection with you from the past.)
How does this play out in the real world?
Take the RFP game, for example. Even in open and public bidding opportunities, except in situations where there is a total race to the bottom, you will most likely win if you’ve done good work for the organization before, and it doesn’t matter how much you prepare your RFP response as long as you meet the technical requirements.
Sure, you don’t want to burn your clients, or deliver terrible service and have them never return for more, or not refer you to their friends. But while I could assert that common-sense approach is important to marketing, you certainly don’t need a marketing genius to implement it.
Unless you meet the prerequisites, (genuinely satisfied previous clients or relationships) as a rule, you can spend a fortune on marketing and get zip results.
If you have the basics right, of course you can enhance your business effectiveness. You can develop a strategic referral and repeat client development program, and you can certainly make it easy for people to find and form a good impression about you with your website and communications. And if you want to venture further into more expensive marketing approaches — including advertising — you can certainly do that.
The results will probably be good with planning, but they will certainly be incremental, and not fundamental, to your business viability.
Yes, get the basics right, and indeed you don’t need to market to stay in business. How’s that for heresy from a marketing consultant.