If you’re confused by the whole marketing topic — it’s not your fault.

Hell, I’m in the marketing business and even I get confused about what the gurus on the mountain are classifying as marketing.

In the next 3 minutes, I’m going to lay out a few things about marketing that will change everything for you and your business and will get you on the road toward doing less marketing, spending less on marketing and making more money.

what is marketing

Marketing is the business you are in

You are in the marketing business.  Not the real estate business, not the restaurant business, not the computer or software business.  Whatever business you are in — you are in the marketing business.

You are in the business of getting and keeping customers — or else you aren’t in business.

When you hear people talk about “marketing mindset” — this is what they are talking about.  A marketing mindset means re-framing and re-contextualizing what business you are in.  Because if you think that you are in the “widget” business, then you want to make more widgets.  But if you don’t sell the widgets you make — you aren’t in business.

If you’re in the restaurant business, then you’re in the business of moving food out the door — but without customers eating your food — you aren’t in business.

You are in the marketing business.  Your business is about getting customers in, delivering value with your product or service and sending happy, smiling, delighted, satisfied customers out.  That’s it.

Marketing is a customer getting and keeping machine

what is marketing

Once you’ve wrapped your head around the idea that you are in the marketing business — that is, the profitable customer getting and keeping business, it’s time to build a machine.

Seems logical doesn’t it — that you should build a machine that delivers on whatever business you are in.  Hence, you’re going to need to build a marketing machine.

Choosing a marketing strategy tells your marketing machine what to do and how to do it.

Before we get into plans and drawings, you need to know what you want your machine to do and how you want to do it. After all, every business has its own unique set of circumstances,  every business owner does things their own way and every customer wants their product or service a certain way.

This is where you choose a marketing strategy.

Don’t worry, there are only three marketing strategies to choose from:

  1. Paid Advertising (PPC) — Choose this if you are in a niche business, would rather pay for Google, Facebook or other online adds than cold-call.
  2. Direct Marketing – Choose this strategy if you want to generate customers fast, aren’t afraid to cold-call send a lot of emails, and have a product or service that is less niche and requires a personal touch.
  3. Content Marketing – Choose this strategy if you have TIME because it’s going to take a lot of it to reach your goal.  You have to love creating content (written, video, social, infographics, etc).  This is a great strategy for thought leaders and subject matter experts.

That’s it — you just have to choose one of these marketing strategies.  WARNING — whenever you see anything out there that says 12, 36, or 101 marketing strategies – those are really marketing ideas that can fit into any of these marketing strategies.  Don’t confuse or overwhelm yourself.

Draw out your customer journey – how your customer will find you and choose you

After choosing your marketing strategy, it’s time to create a map of how your customer will find you and choose you.  It doesn’t have to be fancy here’s an example:

  1. Search for “widget” on Google
  2. See paid ad
  3. Click to landing page
  4. Order samples
  5. Receive samples
  6. Ask questions
  7. Make decision
  8. Purchase

Don’t overthink this – start somewhere and you can fill in the details as you go.  Create the simplest process possible and then as you refine that process and add those special customized touches, your customer journey will evolve naturally and not get overly complicated (and expensive).

Marketing requires a slush fund of time, money or both

People are always asking “Can I do marketing for free?”  If you’re asking can you advertise for free, the answer is yes.  If you’re asking can you grow your business for free, the answer is no.

Sure, there are the .1% who have hit the marketing jackpot of becoming an overnight success with no money invested in marketing.  While that might be you, chances are – you’re going to need time, money or both to grow your business.

Building a marketing slush fund is unbelievably powerful and freeing.  Here’s why.

When you choose a strategy and then select the tactics that will support that strategy – you’re going to want to start implementing right away.  Maybe you need to update your website, maybe you need to place ads — these things all take money and time.  If you have the cash available in your marketing budget to invest and the time available to manage this new strategy implementation, everything will go smoothly and you’ll start attracting customers stress-free.

When you start and stop your strategy — it will lose steam, you’ll waste time and all the money and time you have invested will be wasted.

Practice strategic patience — save marketing money, allocate time to implement your strategy and you will get up and running with new customers before you know it. This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn.  Having done it both ways (multiple times) I can promise you that the slush fund strategy wins hands down

What to do next

First, just stop and think about being in the marketing business rather than whatever your business is.  If you were in the marketing business and if the goal of your business was to generate more customers rather than make or provide a specific product or service, what would that look like?

What would your marketing machine look like?  If you were to give your customer directions for finding you and choosing you, what are the most basic steps you would list?

Start a $5,000 marketing slush fund.

This is the least amount of money that you will need in your slush fund to feel somewhat comfortable.  Start saving by separating about 10-20% of every sale and putting into this slush fund.  As you’re saving, strategize, plan and figure out exactly where you’re going to invest this money and what your ROI will be.

For example, start saving now and start interviewing people to update your website, get quotes, understand exactly what you’ll need and want and how much it will cost.  By the time you have a plan researched and in place, you won’t need to wait much longer to have just the right amount of money in your budget.