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How to be a better marketer

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Why read this? : There are many different things you can do to be a better marketer. In this article, we share 3 different ways to get started. Read this article to learn how to communication more clearly, be more commercial, and be more influential. Quick and easy things you can do (and avoid doing) to raise your marketing game. Take your first steps to being a better marketer. 

One of the more challenging but fun aspects of marketing is there’s always something new to learn. And you can use lessons from other subjects to be a better marketer. 

Marketing isn’t a pure science. You can’t follow pre-defined steps and get the same results every time.

That’s not to say you can’t use scientific methods in marketing (see our behavioural science in marketing article for example). But marketing is about people. And people aren’t predictable. 

Woman standing on stage telling a story to a large seated audience

Doing “x” in marketing won’t always deliver “y”. That’s not how it works. 

But nor is marketing purely an art form, where you base everything on subjective judgement. (though it has a role to play – see our creative approvals article for example).

No, marketing sits somewhere in between science and art. If you want to be a better marketer, your marketing context drives how what the right mix of ‘science’ and ‘art’ is for you. Understanding your context is a big part of how you build your brand expertise

Your marketing context depends on the size of your brand and what industry you’re in. But, in our experience, you do find some consistent behaviours that marketers can use in all contexts. 

Let’s look at 3 of the easiest things you can do to be a better marketer right away. 

Avoid jargon and buzzwords

It’s ironic that one of the most common goals in marketing is clear communication. But, marketers aren’t often clear communicators themselves. 

Marketers get obsessed with using jargon and buzzwords. These seem designed to confuse non-marketers. Great brand marketers soon work out that only marketers actually care about marketing. Non-marketers don’t really care about marketing.

You need to keep your language as clear and simple as possible, if you want people to listen to you.  

Two people holding up large ears on a small dog

And to be a better marketer, you need people to listen to you. 

Customers only care about the benefit your product or service gives them. You need to be able to express this in a clear and simple way. If you don’t, they won’t get it. And if they don’t get it, they won’t buy it. 

Put it into words the customer would use themselves. Make sure you avoid marketing language creeping into what you say. Here’s some overused and jargon-y examples of what we mean :-  

Solutions

Many brands like to talk about ‘solutions’ in their advertising. Plumbing solutions to fix your toilet. Financial solutions to sort out your mortgage. Travel solutions to book your holiday.

But do real customers actually use the word ‘solutions’?

We don’t think so. 

Be very careful of using the word solutions in your advertising. Focus on the benefit instead. A fixed toilet. A better mortgage. Or a hassle-free holiday. That’s what customers want to hear.

Connections

Similarly, we don’t believe many customers talk about making ‘connections’. Unless they’re referring to their total number of social media contacts.

But how many brands do you see talking about how they help customers make ‘valuable connections’?

Again, do real (i.e. non marketing) people actually ever say this? 

At push, maybe if you’re talking about CRM. But otherwise, no. Avoid it. 

A rope net with many connections

Vision

And worst of all, those brands that feel compelled to share their ‘vision’ of the world.

Urgh.

Maybe if that vision’s in a not-for-profit organisation supporting a good cause, it can maybe work.

Maybe.

Anything else – banking, chocolate bars, mechanical widgets – it’s just not that interesting to customers. Please, really, just don’t share it. Nobody cares.

Man's hand holding a camera lens in front of a lake with mountains and blue skies in the background

Nobody’s going looking for your brand vision other than you, your agency and your competitors.

Our best advice is to pick someone in your life you trust. But someone who has nothing to do with marketing. Your mum, dad, significant other, whoever you trust to tell it like it is.

Test out your advertising and comms ideas with them. It’s a pretty safe bet, they won’t think much of words like ‘solutions’, ‘connections’ or ‘visions’.

Sales mindset

It seems like sales and marketing should be a match made in heaven.

But, in many businesses the sales and marketing functions often bicker like cat and mouse.

Marketers see sales people as short-term and impulsive. Sales people see marketers as slow and not commercially-minded. 

They’re both valid opinions. But there’s a sweet spot you should look for between the two sides. 

Sale sign in white on a red window with outline of a person walking past in the background

The best marketers have sales experience

One of the best things a marketer can do to develop their career is to spend a few years working in sales. If you don’t want to do a traditional sales role, try building your e-Commerce capability instead. E-Commerce and marketing fit together well, but most marketers are not e-Commerce experts.   

If you only ever work in marketing, you can fall into the trap of being a ‘big picture’ marketer. One who ‘only does strategy’. You call yourself a strategist and look down on the world of ‘sales’. Don’t be one of those types. No-one likes them.

These type of marketers get hung up on advertising and media. But, they’ll often neglect sales promotion and price discounting as a way to deliver results. 

Sales activity and promotion brings the brand to life and persuades customers to buy. Without sales, businesses go bust. So yes, by all means develop your marketing plan. But make sure selling is part of your brand activation

When you work with sales teams, you focus on actions and results. Their customers and contacts look to them for inspiration and direction. They look to marketing for great ideas and answers to their questions.

Understanding the needs and wants of your sales team and customers is an important part of your marketing plan. Bringing marketing campaigns to life at the point of purchase has a massive impact.

Learn how to engage non-marketers

Beyond the sales team, you also have to consider how to get the best out of other functional teams in your business.

You need to know how to explain marketing to non-marketers

Marketers don’t work in isolation and need the support of other functions. 

But, if you can’t make the people you work with every day love what you do, how do you expect to make customers love what you do?

White round badge with a read heart symbol against a dark grey background

If you make physical products for example, you should know how best to work with your operations and supply chain teams.

We’ve seen many marketing plans grind to a halt when the factory manager says that vital new machine will take 6 months to install. Or, you’re already running at full capacity with that production line or warehouse. 

If you are in a service industry, have you engaged the front-line staff who talk to customers every day? Your fancy sounding ‘service proposition’ hatched in a workshop with your brand agency in their trendy office might sound like a lot of pretentious guff when it actually makes out to your customer service teams.

As a marketer, think through the other connections you have to make within a business.

Meet their needs

Try to communicate what you are doing in a way that meets THEIR needs as well as your own.

Finance teams need clarity of reporting and evidence for your forecast to back up your investment plans. IT teams need to be sure your websites are well protected and tested for faults before they go live.

Show how what you do in marketing helps those other functions meet their own needs. 

(See for example, our guide on how these different functions come together in e-Commerce). 

Close up of a hand with thumb up

Conclusion - How to be a better marketer

There are obviously MORE things you can do to be a better marketer.

But the 3 we’ve covered here are a good start. Avoid jargon and buzzwords. Have a sales mindset that drives dollars in to the business. And learn how to engage non-marketers, so that they buy into what you want to do. 

Marketers with those 3 abilities are definitely already one step ahead of most of the competition out there. 

We can help you grow other marketing skills with our marketing coaching and consulting services. Contact us, if you need help to be a better marketer. 

Photo credits

Woman presenting on stage : Photo by Product School on Unsplash

Dog ears : Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Rope Netting : Photo by Clint Adair on Unsplash

Lens : Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

Sale : Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

Heart Button Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Thumbs up (adapted) : Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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