The 3 Overarching Subjects, Every Marketer MUST Understand

When I tell people that I am in marketing - I am often met with a curious head tilt and follow-up questions. Why? Simply put, it’s a vague term. For me, the definition encompasses any action that is taken to bring your product or service to market. But, essentially we all marketers, whether you are marketing an idea to your wife, or promoting a multi-national brand. In my recent blog post I discussed the three life-cycles all companies must go through to successfully engage in marketing. But, after further consideration, I was curious what other subject matters come into play when doing so called ‘marketing’.

Turns out, I believe there are three underlying principles at the root of marketing: communications, sales, and human psychology. Those three fields are by no means mutually exclusive, but for the sake of this intro series, I will try to explain, define and highlight the important elements of each separately as it relates to marketing. Today, I am choosing to explore the field of communication, because how you tell your story today is more important than the story itself.

Even before communication can begin, you have to understand and define what your company story is?  Defining your company brand, is no easy task let alone communicating it correctly. Simon Sinek’s Golden Rule is a good place to start. Your story and brand needs to communicate the ‘why’ behind what you do. For example, Facebook is about a community and building relationships through sharing capabilities online, but technically it’s a mediocre software platform and somewhere to store large amounts of data. Long are the days that we market products on features, pricing and benefits. In today’s marketing world, you need to first, understand why you are doing what you do, who would identify with that, and shape a story around that belief. Only then, can we understand where and how to effectively share it.

Communicating a story has become quite the art form. Seth Godin articulates this point in his recent book - Marketers are all Liars. Essentially, you have communicate a story that others would share as their own, both in belief and around the kitchen table. In history, we shared stories of past lives and great historic battles because they helped our current existence by teaching us important lessons. Today, sharing a story is about resonating with others. No one in this day and age wants to be told, but rather feel they are being listened to, this is key.  

Once you know what you believe in, you have to understand who aligns with that and then choose the correct channels and communities to communicate with. A mass marketing approach is, or at least should be, a last planned resort. Why? Communities are shrinking in size, but they are growing in total number. There are more influencers and group leaders, than ever before and sadly, bloggers and teen pop stars can carry more weight in 2016 then news broadcasters. However, on a positive note we have more data than ever before to understand each of the million communities that exist and how they interconnect. If we look at youtube and video marketing alone, the trend is spearheaded by companies and personal figures that understood what questions their communities are asking and then helped deliver the answers. “How to” videos for products and recipes for food, indirectly sell the product in a way that is beneficial to the consumer. This leads to another important point - understand where your customer seeks information. To understand your buyers cycle, you can identify the best channels to reach them. Start simply by thinking what your clients are asking, and then figure out where they make ask, and begin communication where they need you first.

In summary, what you communicate should be the “why” and the belief behind how you can help a potential client. Who you communicate with should be based on understanding what audience will adopt and align with your belief. Where you communicate that message is based on where your potential clients are looking for help and or will engage with the message. I will end with a case example to show you the power of communicating, when it’s done right.

Case Study: Dawn Dish Detergent - Dawn Saves Wildlife - VIDEO

Brand Story - “Dawn helps save wildlife” In the past this item would be sold on price or effectiveness, whereas now they are appealing to our worldview and emotional side of helping animals.

Who they are communicating to: The story appeals to the demographic who makes this purchase, which is primarily women. Tugging on emotional heart strings and giving the impression that if we buy their detergent we are helping save animals.

How they are communicating: Creating a video to show how they are helping animals, using cute baby ducks appeals to the senses, and is more effective than if they wrote this story. In turn, the video doesn’t speak to how using the detergent can help you, but rather makes you feel good supporting a company that is saving wildlife. Thus, they have aligned with a worldview and deep rooted beliefs, a much more appealing argument than its cheaper or better than the competitors.