What is Marketing Really?
When I say ‘marketing’, what do you think of? For some it is synonymous with sales. For others, it is about building a brand. For others, it is a support function responsible for events and materials. None of these are entirely accurate and all underestimate the true value of marketing as a powerhouse driver for company growth.
Marketing is one of those functions that is not always well understood, particularly in companies with technical products or serving enterprise businesses. As consumers, we inherently understand marketing for consumer products. You see an ad for the latest iPhone (a product you understand) and you know that advertising drives trial and purchase. If the phone’s new cameras (featured in the ad) appeal to you, you’ll go to the Apple store and check out the phone and possibly buy it.
But in the B2B space, the products and the problems they solve as well as the audiences they address are often more complex. Accordingly, so is the marketing and the buyer’s journey. But fear not, the value of marketing, whether for consumer goods or enterprise offerings is the same.
Every type of marketing and every activity in marketing is ideally aligned to these two goals.
The Power of Awareness
Yes, marketing is about building brands. But brands are more complicated than a strong logo or tagline and a lot of advertising to make sure people know about the brand. Brand building requires a deep understanding of the market the company is in and the audience it serves. Once those are clear, awareness can be built.
But, you might be thinking, isn’t awareness just a tool for driving revenues? Yes but it’s an important goal to separate out. Positive awareness certainly leads to revenues but it is measured differently and operates over a different time frame than other marketing activities like digital demand gen or event participation.
Creating strong brand awareness is a meta-level and cumulative process that connects the brand to stories, builds confidence, and develops a connection to the brand that impacts revenues in multiple ways. Awareness can create a leadership position in the mind of prospects that will ensure the company is automatically considered (and positively) when the prospect is ready to buy, thus ensuring a strong pipeline. Positive awareness also signals a that the company is a good choice, allowing the company to potentially charge a premium over competitors for the quality it brings. And, strong brand awareness can enable access with new or existing products to adjacent markets, marginal buyers, and revenues via partnerships that open new revenue channels.
In other words, the power of brand and awareness is that it supports all sales and marketing activities by creating an aura of positiveness about the company. This may drive revenues immediately but is more about creating a fertile environment for business success across timeframes and markets.
Real Marketing is More than Sales Support
The day-to-day work of marketing is to drive specific revenues within specific timeframes. For example, a company may have a goal of driving $1 million in revenues from a new product or service in the first quarter of the year. Or it may want to see ARR growth of 50% this year. Here the connection between revenues and marketing is more direct. Marketing will devise and execute a go-to-market plan that delivers leads and revenue through existing channels, try out some new channels, and optimize spend to meet corporate goals.
For many, this is what they think of when they think of marketing but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that marketing is just sales support. Yes, leads from marketing are converted by sales into dollars but revenues are actually a function of many things: market interest, engagement, product market fit, brand perception, process, and the customer experience. Most of these are heavily influenced by one or more aspects of marketing. Marketing helps set and execute the strategy for how to bring potential revenues into the company in many ways.
To name a few:
Product marketing: Sets the price, determines markets
Product marketing determines what problems are being solved best and for whom with the company’s product or service. It determines how to segment the market, how to speak with key audiences and what to speak to them about. It also aligns pricing and packaging to optimize market uptake.
Digital marketing: Generates leads and interest throughout the buyer journey
Digital marketing makes sure the company and its offerings are easy to find online via search or other sites frequented by prospects. It actively targets them with content and ads that communicate why the company’s offering is the best option now.
Field marketing: Creates in-person opportunities to build relationships and close deals
Field marketing brings the company’s offerings directly to prospects via sales events that create and deepen relationships and help pull prospects through the sales funnel.
Marketing is a Lever to High Performance
Companies that perform best and outperform their competitors view and enable marketing as a strategic function. Understanding the twin goals of marketing — driving awareness and revenues — is an important first step to aligning the strategies, budgets and activities that enable real growth.
Related Resource | See my guide: Marketing As A Revenue Driver