Making Marketing Work for You

By John Graham

Marketing rarely fails because of a lack of interest, ideas or adequate resources. It fails when it doesn’t turn prospective buyers into believers. Marketing derails when it's little more than a series of uncoordinated “tactics”— email campaigns, promotions, presentations, blogs, social media engagements, charitable support, newsletters, collateral pieces, webinars, events, and all the other stuff intended to “get the message out.”
There’s another way to look at marketing: helping customers enhance their lives and fulfill their aspirations. When someone makes a purchase, it’s as if they’re saying, “I believe.” Far more than spending money, they are putting their trust in a business or a brand.
Making marketing work
So what will make marketing work? The answer is in asking the right questions:
#1. What’s your message?
Or do you have one that everyone in the company can verbalize if asked? Most importantly, could your customers express it? Like so many other companies, you may be letting others define your message. If so, it’s time to take charge. That begins with asking questions and gathering information.
Here are a few starters:
  • Why should anyone want to do business with you?
  • What sets your company apart from the competition?
  • What are your customers' complaints? What do they like about you?
How do you know what your customers think about you? Ask them. Get on the phone, use surveys, or, better yet, go and see some of them. That’s right, in person. They’ll get excited to see you instead of an invoice.
By now, you may have figured it out. Marketing has nothing to do with your company or what it sells. Marketing is 100% about what customers want and what’s in it for them. To put it bluntly: if you talk about your company, visitors will run. Why? They care about themselves. We can learn from companies with a customer-focused message:
  • Walmart. Save money. Live better.
  • Toyota. Let’s go places.
  • Burger King. Made to order.
  • Coca-Cola. Taste the feeling.
  • Capital One. What’s in your wallet?
Now, take it a step further. Focus on what’s important to your customers, such as responsiveness, transparency, ease of access, keeping promises, helpfulness, and caring.
Next, come up with four or five customer-focused messages. Then, survey your customers and prospects, asking them to select the message that best represents your company. Along with obtaining valuable information, you are letting them know you care.

  With a compelling marketing message, the next task is deciding how to deliver it to customers and prospects. In other words, how do you go about pulling them closer so that they will want to do business with you?

#2. What’s your strategy?
There’s another way to look at marketing: helping customers enhance their lives and fulfill their aspirations
Here are possible components of a marketing plan. Each should have its own strategy and customer-focused content:
  • Social marketing. Choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business. Don’t dilute your efforts by trying to be everywhere. Explore Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Yelp.
  • eNewsletters. Capture interest by sharing your knowledge and experience, as well as customer testimonials and helpful alerts.
  • Events, webinars, and podcasts. Make sure the content is always customer-focused.
  • Group presentations. Identify and contact relevant groups and ask customers for suggestions.
  • Charitable support. Partner with a charity where you can leverage your company's capabilities and make it your corporate mission.
  • Advertising. Both online and print ads do well if your choices are well researched. Consider Facebook advertising.
  • Website. Think of your website as a resource for attracting customers. Focus the content on what interests them and what they want to learn, not what you want to sell.
  • Bylined articles. Demonstrate your competence by writing articles. Post them on LinkedIn, and send them to trade and general online and print publications.
  • Videos. 45 to 90 seconds. Demonstrations, customer testimonials, but no talking heads.
If you think such a list is daunting, you’re right. So, first, tackle those tactics that are the most critical. Then, set realistic deadlines for implementing new initiatives, but always think “excellence.”
#3. How can you keep your marketing on track?
Marketing tactics often begin with enthusiasm but quickly fade away. This happens when the purpose isn’t clear. Keep asking yourself: “Why are we doing this?” “Is it helping us pull customers and prospects closer?” If the answer is no, evaluate and make changes. More than anything else, this is what helps keep marketing on track.
But there’s one more thing: The effects of marketing are cumulative, not instantaneous. Sure, early adopters are quick to jump aboard, but it takes more time for others. They want to be sure before they buy and that doesn’t happen quickly. Unfortunately, too many marketers fall into the trap of quitting too soon. What’s important is being there when customers are ready to buy.
Even so, competitors are always ready to strike, and that’s why consistency is marketing’s “secret juice” that goes a long way in bulletproofing customers. When customers know why they are doing business with you, they stay with you, and they are also more likely to make referrals.
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at, 617-774-9759 or at
  • Posted February 13, 2017 IN