An article in the New York Times today announces, "How To Market Your Business with Facebook ". Check it out at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/business/smallbusiness/12guide.html?emc=eta1
The writer tells us how to use Facebook to interact with our customers and in one place says, "It's not about selling." That's right! It's not about selling. But, it will always be about selling until we learn to use the "M" word correctly.
"Market" is not a verb (or infinitive). As long as we treat it as such, we will make all of the errors associated with product and service failure. When we discuss "How to market our businesses", we link back to the old days of creating products and services and waiting for customers to fall in love with them. Or, we morph back to the days when we threw dollar after dollar at the promotion of our beloved products and services only to find that no one else loved them. Then we threw up our hands and said we didn't "market" them enough!
David Ogilvy said, "Marketing is objectivity." We need to think about how someone might use our products or services not how beautiful we think they are. Philip Kotler said, "Marketing begins long before there's ever a product or service." We need to have a bias for research. Peter Drucker said, "A business only has one purpose: to create a customer." As long as businesses live by the mistaken notion that "If we build it they will come", we will have product and service failures. As Kotler said, "Marketing senses, serves, and satisfies the wants and needs of customers." As such, it must start with the sensing part.
As long as businesses say, "We need to market this more" we will have wasted promotional dollars. We will be selling. And, no amount of selling can move a product that no one wanted or needed in the first place.
Writers, like the one who wrote the aforementioned Times headline, are well advised to substitute, "How to understand your customer better with Facebook." That's what the article suggests anyway. That is, listen to your customers on Facebook, enter a dialogue with them, ask them about their wants and needs. Then, create a product or service to satisfy those wants and needs.
I know. It borders on a pet peeve. But, our actions follow our words. Our words reflect our values. And, many marketing sins are committed because creative types are busy using their favorite colors, typefaces and poetic language so as to win awards while not focusing on the customer. Too many workers are too busy gazing at their navels and delivering no, or poor, customer service. When things start to go bad, they turn to their old language and say, "We needed to market this better", as if more promotion will answer anyone's needs. Geez, even Don Draper understood the notion. On a Season One episode of Mad Men he exhorted a copy writer to "focus on benefits, not features."
So, all of you marketers out there, when you catch yourself using "market" as a verb, send me a dollar. We'll put the money in a safe place and give it to a worthy cause at the end of the year, "The Old Marketers Retirement and Travel Fund." Believe me, the dollars will add up quickly and we'll all be able to vacation in Rome!