The sales function is built into the DNA of every business. It’s as basic and unquestioned as a “great steak” at a company sales meeting.
The story with marketing is quite different. It’s often viewed as a “side dish” to the sales “entrée,” nice but not necessary, particularly when the economy is either very good or very bad. When things are humming, who needs it and when the economy tanks, “we can’t afford it.”
There’s something of an “inbred” ambivalence about marketing. Wanting it but not really trusting it. Even more to the point is a pervasive doubt that it’s worth the investment or that it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
It’s not surprising that marketing often finds itself on the defensive, never quite sure of its future.
Even so, the menu of the value of marketing today is lengthy. Here are five:
• Guard against negative public comments. In the past, negative comments were mostly limited to word-of-mouth, with minimal spillover. Now that those same comments are viral, get prepared before you get hit.
Make it a continuing priority to encourage satisfied customers to share their thoughts about your business. Make it easy and convenient for customers to post comments.
• Create a reservoir of goodwill. It doesn’t appear on the company books, but you can take it to the bank. More often than not, its value is ignored, not taken seriously or dismissed as less than a “soft” asset. Whatever else it’s called, it’s goodwill.
Avon has banked enormous amounts of it with its long-time national sponsorship of the “Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Research.” Bank of America wants more of it.
• Help customers help themselves. Ian Gordon of Convergence Management Consultants offers an indispensable marketing insight. He contends that the incredible pace of change in technology, attitudes and products doesn’t give customers enough time to adjust, which causes continual stress, discomfort and frustration.