Marketing vs. marketing

Your Marketing (capital M) is too important to be the sole responsibility of your marketing (lower case m) department.

It’s a strange thought, right? But it’s true.

Think of every business having two marketing functions working seamlessly to succeed: Marketing and marketing. The first should underpin every strategic decision your company makes. The second tells the story of what you do—hopefully, in the most persuasive manner possible. 

The order they appear is important, because Marketing can’t be effective without marketing. It’s also so important that making the marketing department the so-called parent with sole responsibility for creating, cajoling, directing, providing guidance, correcting mistakes, and celebrating successes is a mistake that leading companies don’t make—but the average ones do with regularity. 

What do we mean by capital-M Marketing? And why is it the responsibility, first and foremost, of your business’s leadership team and, subsequently, of your entire company? Marketing with a capital M answers the following questions that shape the growth and profitability of every company:

Who are you for?

Who is your key market audience? Sure, companies often have more than one customer. But we believe that every company needs to understand, love, and put one primary audience front and center. Think of it this way. Let’s say that there’s customer in your mind, one that represents a large segment of your business. Now imagine that customer just disappeared. Stopped liking you, stopped recommending you, stopped purchasing from you because a substitute product came along or a competitor satisfied their needs and wants more fully. That would hurt, wouldn’t it? But does it hurt the most? Consider each consumer segment you serve, and don’t stop until you find that one essential customer whose loss keep you up at night. Drill down deep to identify who you are really, really for. 

You’ve just found the primary audience who matters most. So focus, and be something valuable to them. Be better to that customer than anyone else.

What do you really do?

Most companies immediately go to their products or services and say, “We’re in the automobile business, or the legal business, or the shoe business.” But products can be copied, service can be co-opted and other companies are just as friendly and passionate about what they do. That’s why you should think in terms of a core competency instead. An examination of your core competencies helps you really understand what’s important to your customers and what you really do for them. Think of your company as a tree. Customers see the branches (your products), but the true brand value you deliver is found in the root system, buried in the ground. 

A core competency is a unique combination of three to six strengths that result in a unique capability allowing you to deliver a unique benefit that’s difficult to imitate. 

Once you understand the combination of strengths that provides you with a unique capability, manage those strengths internally, across departments, and add others that make your core competency even stronger. Don’t worry about chasing what others are doing; focus on communicating your value to your customers. Be yourself, be unique and you’ll get even better at the things that matter to those you are for.

How are you really different?

Once you understand what it is you really do, you can pinpoint your organization’s unique, differentiating benefit to customers. Better yet, you can devise new ways to own your difference—be it your heritage, principles, practices or brand personality—across all customer touch points, from product development and sales to your communications and customer service. 

Determining your essential audience, discovering their needs and wants, and then satisfying those needs and wants better than the competition.

Is your organization ensuring that they’re on the same page of the same script? If not, your M and your m need to get together asap. 

Once your capital M is understood, the job of telling your story in compelling ways—or, lower case marketing—becomes oh, so much more compelling, honest and… effective.