As we roll into the end of 2006, I’ve been thinking about what big stuff I learned and observed while consulting and speaking across the US.
My list grows, but one top observation regarding almost every organization I’ve spent time around, large and small, nonprofit and for-profit, (heck, even my country club) stands out above the rest – the lack of REGULAR, ONGOING, DAILY MARKETING ACTIVITY.
When meeting a new prospect for the first time I always ask, "What do you DO exactly?" The answer repeatedly comes back in some form like:
- We publish books for the Christian marketplace.
- We develop solutions for radiologists.
- We do landscaping.
- We design and manufacture garage doors.
- We create and manage trade shows for the XYZ industry.
The fact is, these answers are not the primary business for these organizations. The correct answers would be:
- We market books that we publish for the Christian marketplace.
- We market solutions that we develop for radiologists.
- We market our landscaping services.
- We market garage doors that we design and manufacture.
- We market trade shows that we create and manage for the XYZ industry.
This is not just semantics we’re talking about here. This is important. Filling the funnel of future customers should be Job One of every organization every single day. Peter Drucker said the purpose of business is to create a customer and the first function is marketing. I would go a step farther and say the purpose of business is to create and maintain long-term, profitable relationships.
Yet almost all of us fall into the daily trap of confusing busyness with effectiveness. Our To-Do lists, voicemail, and email overflow with items marked "Urgent!" We dutifully tend to these tasks that, more often than not, have nothing to do with creating new business. The Tyranny of the Urgent, it’s called.
It’s cliche to say there’s a big difference between something that’s Urgent and something that’s Vital. Of course we know that something Vital is more important than something Urgent. But the truth is, we get done what we think we should get done, and something marked "Urgent" sounds, well, urgent. Isn’t it interesting that we don’t have a button on our email or voicemail marked "Vital?"
What’s the answer? It’s a lot easier than you might think. Tomorrow morning when you start your work day, don’t even look at your To-Do list for the first hour. Invest that first hour on the Vital task of Marketing. Call two prospects and two current customers. Clip out an interesting article and send it to your top ten prospects with a note, "Thought you’d find this interesting." Begin writing a whitepaper. Add an entry to that blog you’ve been meaning to start. Do something that markets your products or services.
Make that first hour your daily Marketing Hour. Fill that funnel. Nurture a new relationship. And be vicious with that time. Don’t let somebody take that away from you with something they think is Urgent. Remember what Drucker said.
Marketing is VITAL.