By Laurence Green, founder of 101

Laurence Green, founder of 101, explains why ‘a great marketing campaign is defined by the irrelevance of the salespeople who follow’.

Definitions of marketing abound, and continue to proliferate as the world around us changes. No less than four of the top 10 marketing bestsellers at Amazon right now concern themselves with the internet and, more specifically, social media.

Often mistaken for ‘messages out’ from a business, such as advertising, the wider definition of marketing in fact includes ‘messages in’ to the business also: from the market and from the consumer. Some definitions conflate marketing with sales. But sales is not marketing, and marketing is not sales. Indeed, some have argued that they are opposites.

Management guru Doug Richard teases the two apart thus: selling is the activity of closing, whereas marketing opens. And while sales are of course ‘the underlying purpose that marketing serves…a great marketing campaign is defined by the irrelevance of the salespeople who follow’. A great salesperson, by contrast, is only required if marketing has not been done well.

Sales and marketing, then, are complementary but distinct activities for all but the smallest of companies. Of the two, marketing is the more fundamental, at least when it is properly understood and practiced: it can and should orient the entire organization around what the consumer wants to buy, and not what your company has to sell.

Although marketing best practice is prone to its fashions and fads, concerted efforts are in fact being made to establish the common factors that lie behind marketing success.

Where Ries and Trout’s ’22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’ set the bar many years ago, attention has turned more recently to evidence-based and empirical study of how markets operate, how buyers behave and how marketing can best impact brands and sales.

I draw from the most recent ‘breakthrough’ marketing science title for my 5 tips. Byron Sharp’s ‘How Brands Grow’ takes issue with much accepted wisdom and textbook marketing theory. It sets out a straightforward and largely generalisable framework for successful marketing.

So while some brands in some categories may occasionally march to a different beat - and although there’s no substitute for working out exactly what works for your own specific brand - most of the time the following will serve you well:

• Prioritise the reach of your brand. Brands thrive on popularity and broad penetration, and earning the loyalty of a few is seductive but wrongheaded. Skoda’s business doubled when we stopped them talking just to petrolheads who could see beyond the badge and instead tackled the widely held stigma attached to the brand. See how apparently ‘niche’ products like apple and Kindle present themselves.

• Get noticed. In store, in advertising and beyond. Fame is commercial gold dust. The price comparison site jinglefest is perhaps the extreme form: a ruthlessly practical battle for attention in a world oversupplied with brands and their comms.

• Create and use distinctive brand assets. These are the consumer’s friend, and make what you do work for you and not others. Great brands all boast these.

• Refresh and build memory structures. This is the stuff we draw on subconsciously and consciously to make our decisions. What is your brand’s history, truth, agenda? Commit to it.

• Be consistent yet fresh. No-one likes a brand that wobbles all over the pace. But tell the same story in new and interesting ways and you will be rewarded.

Finalists for the Excellence in Marketing Award will be announced on 2nd August and the overall winner will be announced at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner on 8th November. If you would like see who wins, and mix with the most influential people in UK plc, book your places now. Call 0207 234 8755, email Anthony.akoto@ubm.com or visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for details.

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