Is Marketing a Ploy?

is marketing a ploy?

No matter what issue in their lives or business have brought clients to my door, at some point the conversation always turned to their marketing plan (or lack thereof). Of course this is normal: if you have a business, you’re going to need to do marketing. It’s up to you to figure out how to attract people to your business, how you keep them coming back, and what really works and is worth your time, attention and money.

Yet whether you are reading the New York Times Magazine article about the marketing of therapists or just deleting the constant barrage of Viagra ad emails from your spam folder, there’s an undercurrent that’s impossible to ignore.

The message that implies, “marketing is at best, inauthentic (trying to squeeze you into a narrow box that serves a narrow market) or at worst – a scam.”

And to be honest, a lot of the marketers I see on the Internet, Facebook (have you joined my FB page yet?), & billboards aren’t doing their industry any favors. When you see their ads, you know immediately that they are trying to get you to do something or buy something. Even worse they’re often pressuring you to do it with the scarcity tactic where an opportunity or sale price is going away soon. (I’m giving away an iPad Mini to one lucky FB page member next week – check it out. . . ).

It’s at the point where some social scientists estimate that we hear and see anywhere from 3,000-5,000 promotional messages a day.

Though this number is highly disputed (so don’t quote me) we all intuitively understand that it’s harder and harder to get people’s attention. So the marketing messages have gotten louder and demanded more immediate attention (pop-up boxes anyone?).

Does it work to be louder and bolder? My best guess is yes, this type of marketing does get results.

But that’s not really the point is it? I’ve realized, and my clients also eventually see, that if the marketing you are doing is not working for you personally, it doesn’t matter if it’s bringing people to your door. You want to bring the right people to your door, and you want to be able to serve them joyfully.

If you are up late in the night crafting witty Facebook and Twitter messages (make sure you click to follow me!) but too tired to happily serve your customers the next day – that’s not smart marketing. Similarly, if you are a business owner who is so overwhelmed with your highly strategic marketing plans & to-dos that you aren’t making innovative new products, responding to customer feedback promptly, or paying your vendors in a timely way – you’re not building a business with the freedom, creativity, and integrity you want for yourself.

The most common marketing frustration I hear is, “I just don’t know what to do to get more clients/increase my sales/increase my brand’s visibility. ” The next question is always, “What do YOU think I should do?”

That highlights the biggest problem I see out there, and the message that gets perpetuated over and over is that there is one right way to do the marketing. And if you’re not getting the results you want, you’re doing it wrong. Let me just say for the record that I believe this is pure and utter hogwash. (Yes I grew up in the Midwest!).

Each year the same marketing industry that teaches you how, “with their proven formula,” to build the business of your dreams, churns out more and more gurus, programs and evangelista’s; so it’s hard not to believe that it’s the only way that really works. Look, I’m sure there are great marketers out there, far better than me. And I’m sure a lot of stuff they teach really does work.

But it’s never the only way that works or to grow your business – of that I am sure!
I think what you really need, is a more personalized plan. The reality is that marketing is essentially about connection. Whether it’s connection with your target market or connection with people who influence your target market – marketing that encourages those relationships is really what you’re after.

So how do YOU connect best with your customer and clients? Is it through face-to-face lunch meetings? An active Facebook page? A booth at your industry trade show followed by personal phone calls? What do you think?

I think if you’re looking for marketing that doesn’t feel like a ploy – and creates true connections – you need to stop looking only at your ROI from advertising and start looking at the time you invest in creating valuable connections in your marketplace.

Here’s a simple (but powerful) exercise you can do for the next two weeks:

Each day around “closing time,” write your answers to the following questions:

What marketing activities did I do today?
Who did I want to connect with for each activity?
Who did I feel connected with in each activity (hint if no one, that’s a sign)
How strong was that connection on a scale of 1-10?
What action(s) will I take with what I have observed in this exercise?

Comment below what you think you’re going to discover!

Now go forth and do some amazing marketing connecting!

P.S. Yes all my annoying FB pleas were just a bit of fun (aka over-the-top pushy marketing) inserted in this article but yes I’m always happy if you want to join the conversation there.

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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