YOUR MARKETING PLAN – Turning Art into Science
Simply stated: Marketing is the process of identifying prospects and determining how best to turn them into customers. But there is nothing simple about marketing. It is at once fun and frustrating, obvious and elusive, conceptual and tactical.
And… it is bigger than many entrepreneurs realize. It requires knowledge of history, sociology, culture, geography, and human nature, as well as competitive trends, positioning, and pricing.
We can go on at length about its inherent contradictions and challenges, but probably the most useful analogy is to think of marketing as an art form. Learning any art is invariably a lifelong process, with no guarantees of success. So it is with marketing. But as any art is broken down into its major components, made measurable, and regularly practiced, it becomes more easily mastered.
The more involved we become with a particular art form, the more we are able to get past the mysteries that awed us as outside observers. We become aware of a particular mind-set and of patterns that help make solutions more easily identifiable. Many of our reactions become automatic; for example, a black belt in karate reacts to a punch or a kick from an opponent nearly without thinking.
Just as courses in art can help bring out the talent we may have in that field, so can similar training in marketing. It is essential if one is going to write a marketing plan and … no company can survive and grow without a written plan!
Marketing Misconceptions: The Limits of Our Understanding
An important distinction between marketing and other art forms is that many entrepreneurs who may not believe themselves to be talented in such fields as art or carpentry, or even in more familiar business areas such as financing and accounting, think of themselves as experts in marketing. Much as in politics, individuals form opinions and viewpoints concerning marketing that they feel very strongly about–typically with insufficient information or expertise.
That’s because we are constantly exposed to marketing approaches and strategies–when we walk through shopping malls, watch television commercials, stand in line at a bank, eat at a restaurant, or read direct-mail catalogs. Who among us doesn’t have a view about how a clothing store’s selection could have been made more attractive, how ads for food or beer turned us off, how a bank might speed up its lines, or how a restaurant could improve its service?
In these and dozens of other situations, we are reacting to some aspect of a company’s marketing approach. Certainly having a view about someone else’s business–even if it is based on insufficient or incorrect information–is fairly harmless.
The problem comes when you have strong views about your own business based on erroneous assumptions. Indeed, having misconceived views about your own business can be downright dangerous. You can quickly move down the wrong path and, before you have time to correct your mistakes, go out of business or suffer sever losses.
Obtaining the necessary information and coming to the correct conclusions about which marketing direction to take, however, is no easy task. It is the essence of moving marketing from the realm of art into that of science. Clearly such a move isn’t just desirable, it is essential