Dear Marketers — Let’s create more value, not more marketing

Yes, you are going to lose weight, stop smoking, learn a new language and spend more time with your family next year. And while you are in the make-a-bunch-of-resolutions-to-be-totally-awesome-next-year phase, there’s another resolution I want you to consider. As a marketer, do not create more marketing. Create more value.

[Warning: This is going to be brutal. So come along only if you are not afraid of pain.]

7 things to learn about business from a stripper doesn’t really have a lot to learn from, neither does Lady Gaga’s hairstyle. x ways to do y like z where x=7 or 10; y=business, marketing, sales or customer relationship; z=stripper, drug dealer, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber is done to death. Stop. Now.
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Marketing is easier than you think

They say marketing is all about trying out a whole bunch of things. Most of these things will fail but some might work. Go big with the ones that worked and make a note of the failures so you don’t repeat them. While that does make a lot of sense, it makes marketing a function of the number of hours you spend and the things you push out the door.

Marketing doesn’t have to be that hard.

I had been doing that for a long time too. I would write blog posts, create infographics, comment on communities, buy ads, buy some more, optimize the already running ones, create new landing pages, come up with new campaign ideas, and then see which of these stuck. Even if one of them did, the impact it finally had on revenues was much smaller than what I would have liked it to be. And then I read this series from David Skok about a systematic way to go about marketing, a process to create a sales and marketing machine.
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Be opinionated

Nobody likes safe. Nobody likes honest opinions. I think answers. Or your two cents.

People want an opinion. A point of view. Have one and make a strong case for it. Even if you are wrong, people will listen to you and respect you for standing up for something.

If you are trying to be safe, you are just being boring. You are just one in the crowd.

Just my honest opinion.

Keeping sight of the big picture

In my last post, I talked about the importance of marketing fundamentals and how having the big picture is important before you get to the details. The interesting part is that a lot of people who do put together the big picture completely lose track of it when they are deep in execution mode.

It’s bound to happen. And it happens to everyone. So what do you do about it?
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Where have the fundamentals gone?

When was the the last time you read about how a startup positioned itself? Or how they segmented the market and figured out the most profitable ones to go after? Or the right pricing model, maybe even charging a higher price than the market to create the perception of a premium product? A long time back? Never?

But should I care about those things at all, I hear you ask. Hasn’t marketing changed fundamentally?
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Competition is good. Very good.

They say competition is good to shake off complacency and drive innovation. They say it validates your business idea when you are entering new territory. They say competition helps with blah, blah and blah. True, true and true. And you know what? It’s good great for marketing too.

When you don’t have any competition, which is rarely the case, you have to develop the market yourself. You have to go out and educate people about the need for your product. You have to evangelize it. Only when you have done that can you pitch your product as the solution to that need. And it only gets tougher when you are challenging the status quo. But when you have competitors, all of you are in it together educating and evangelizing the market. Not all of the money has to come out of your pocket and not all the sweat from your body (did I mention that could lead to body odor?). You share the load with them taking your product to a product category.
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The art of storytelling

Once upon a time, I was doing nothing in life. Like pretty much nothing.

I was on a year-long break (which finally turned out to be about a year and a half long) after having slogged my ass off at FusionCharts (founded by my brother) for about three years right after college. Now I don’t mean slogging my ass off in a bad way. I learnt a lot in those three years but FusionCharts was in Kolkata, a city that I just don’t fit into for some reason.

And as a result, I had no life. I had gone from being lean and mean to having a couple of tires sitting on me. My back had gotten stiff and the big wide eyes had been replaced with small red ones from all the time spent in front of the computer. I had lost my social skills. I couldn’t hold a conversation with someone for more than two minutes if it wasn’t related to work. I had lost all but a couple of friends owing to what I thought was a lack of time. And I hadn’t dated a girl in like forever.
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Make notes

I don’t have too many hobbies. But one of the hobbies that I do have is reading. Books, blogs, PPTs, talks (though that’s more like listening), I go through pretty much everything I can lay my hands on. Most of the reading is around marketing and business but I indulge in the occasional fiction too. But with so much reading, as you can imagine, it gets difficult to remember things. And while fiction is for reading pleasure, the marketing and business books are not. They are for learnings I can apply in my work, whether today or a decade down the line.
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Content + marketing is just 2/3rd of content marketing

Build it and they will come doesn’t really happen. Similarly, write it and they will come doesn’t really happen either with content marketing. There’s also the marketing to content marketing. So there’s content, there’s marketing, how does that not make up content marketing?

Well, it doesn’t. How do you know if the readers agree with the post? What do they disagree with?

What part did they find most valuable? What was crap?
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8 marketing books I highly recommend

A degree in computer science engineering is no preparation to become a marketer. So when I decided to get into marketing, I threw as many blogs and books as I could at myself to get up to speed quickly. While blogs were good for how-tos and an overall idea of things (like this one is) but to learn something from within, there’s nothing like a book on the subject. Here are 8 books that I have learnt a lot about marketing from in a very random order – not all of them are marketing books per se but have great marketing lessons to be learnt from nonetheless.

Marketing Management

Yes it is old, an MBA course book and a dry read for the most parts. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Even in this age of shiny new tools and tactics, the fundamentals of marketing remain largely the same…just the mediums to reach people have changed. No matter how much of a A/B testing ninja or rockstar inbound marketer you are, you still need to understand your market size, segment it into different measurable units, find the most profitable one and then go after them. This book teaches you all of that, and a lot more.

Amazon link
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