As I ventured into the unknown nearly seven years ago, marketing was something that fashionably dressed and overpaid young professionals did in cool offices with slides.
I now understand some of that (perhaps not the slides!). Not only is marketing done by trendy types, it also commands vast sums of money, huge tracts of time, and when done well, great talent.
Marketing is a nightmare. And a joyous revelation. After seven years I might have expected to know a higher percentage than when I started. I don’t. Thanks to my unconscious incompetence evolving slowly into conscious incompetence, I am at least now aware that I know much much less than when I started. After year one I probably thought I knew about 10%. I reckon I’m about 1% now and it’s still receding. Here’s hoping I plateau soon.
What I’ve learnt is relevant across sectors, albeit we’re marketing different things to different audiences with different values and intentions. Like any specialist area that takes itself seriously, there’s jargon. I’m fairly anti-jargon on the grounds of elitism and exclusion, whilst (as a linguist) accepting the importance of nomenclature for the purposes of specificity.
That terms like ‘key messages’, ‘value proposition’, ‘personality’ and ‘target audience’ now get bandied about in our team is a source of great pride and self-loathing (and team-loathing of me!).
Below is what I wish I’d known, but probably couldn’t have grasped without discovering it for myself:
- Less is more. The best marketing quote I have heard is ‘great marketing is saying most with least’. This is my sense check.
- Know your audience. Understand who you’re communicating to, what they care about, what your offer does for them and be lovely to them and about them.
- Target one thing to one audience. Our messages have been mixed and confused because our offers and customers are multiple. Focus on one at a time on the right platform.
- Keeping doing it. I’m a quitter. So if it’s not yielding results after five minutes I’m probably bored and want to move on. Don’t. Hammer it in for weeks and months with great images, stories, values, brand and key messages. Again and again. And again.
- Measure it. This doesn’t have to be complex. Every platform let’s you get under the bonnet and check the analytics. The clicks, the unsubscribes, the likes and the right time of day. This isn’t rocket science and you can do it yourself. And then apply a return on investment.
What these have in common is focus, simplicity and probably doing a bit less.