Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Change the marketing language

In my conversations with company owners, executives and entrepreneurs about marketing, these are the words that they use most: 

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Content
  • Cost
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Views
  • Data
  • Logo
  • Leads
  • Time
  • Effort

This vocabulary reflects a desperate search for results through activities. It corners marketing into the expense column of the income statement and fills any senior manager or owner with dread - "where must I spend my money?".

However, after paying careful attention to the way the client describes their requirements, I try and introduce a new set of words:
  • Market share
  • Customer value
  • Brand reputation
  • Objectives
  • Messaging
  • Meaning
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Timelines
  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Results

These words shift the conversation from "marketing as the colouring-in department" to "marketing as a growth facilitator". It moves the mindset from expenses to investments, from tactical activities to strategic momentum.

I recently bought a house and was amazed at how poorly most homes are maintained and expanded over the years. It's just a patchwork of rooms, showers, kitchens, patios and fireplaces added to old structures without much coherent thought of the impact on the overall flow. In a desperate attempt to advertise a place as having three bedrooms; two bathrooms (one en-suite), people take old homes and convert them as cheaply as possible. They skip the architect and go straight for the builder. Hardly any plan or oversight. This is also how most marketing departments inside SMEs look - unplanned.

All business functions must ultimately be an investment. Your accountant must help you save money; HR should ensure the best people stay, and the rest leave; logistics and operations must ensure efficient allocation of resources and product quality. The same is true for marketing - it must not be an expense, even though that's how it's accounted for. 

By using language that ties marketing into business performance, the conversation naturally lifts out of a valley of despair and onto heights where new horizons open.