"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."
--- Peter Drucker
When I first started in business, I assumed that I would do some form of marketing. After learning all I could about marketing, I would set aside time for marketing activity. I compartmentalized marketing and opened the marketing box when I thought I needed it.
A major point I was missing was that marketing isn't a one-time activity. You can't say you'll focus on marketing activities on Tuesdays only or once every two weeks. Marketing needs to be seen as an every day, every minute, vital function of business. We are marketing even before we get to the office or shop.
"Marketing is a contest for people's attention."
--- Seth Godin
Marketing your business is such an important piece of the puzzle that Googling "how to" will bring up endless resources from blogs, message boards, book reviews, seminars, and marketing companies. As convoluted as the science of marketing is made out to be, it really boils down to creating a WOW factor for enticing prospects to buy from you.
"I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination."
--- David Ogilvy
Creating a good WOW factor begins with giving your prospects and customers something that is surprising, helpful, and trustful. It is surprising when what your offer is different and refreshing compared to the competition. Something as simple as an inviting waiting room with a helpful receptionist addressing the customers by name, offering beverages, providing up-to-date literature about your company. Or, it could be the visit to a prospect's office with a catered lunch, or birthday balloons. The key is the WOW found in the surprise.
The next WOW ingredient is providing something helpful. Offering a product or service that provides a solution is the foundation. But finding out what else is troubling the customer and providing a solution really WOWs. For example, if you discover that a customer is having difficulty in an area outside of your expertise, but you know someone who can help and not only provide that contact, but facilitate the process to the end, (flipping the bill, organizing the project, etc.), that is being helpful to the WOW degree.
"Starbucks is not an advertiser; people think we are a great marketing company, but in fact we spend very little money on marketing and more money on training our people than advertising."
--- Howard Schultz
Finally, creating an atmosphere of trust generates a marketing WOW. When you show up when you say you will, do what you say you will do, and show respect and work with integrity, you are creating trust. These are things that are expected, but a lot of businesses don't do them. Rising above the average every day is Marketing 101. You are in control of marketing every time you take a call from a customer, submit a proposal, close a sale, buy materials, stop for coffee, greet a prospect, and send an invoice. Use every minute to create a WOW moment.
"Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department."
--- David Packard