The Purpose of Marketing (I love this article!)

Written by Somik Raha
Go To Original Article Here

"You need to understand the purpose of marketing," said a successful CEO mentor of mine, with stern compassion. He'd invited me to meet him, and since I'd just finished my Ph.D., he asked me about my work. I went on for about 15 minutes about my dissertation, which focused on getting clarity on our values in the context of decision-making, before he dropped this gem in my lap (paraphrased): "This world is a noisy place, and people gift you a short amount of time with great difficulty. You have no right to steal their time by rambling and being unclear. To honor their time, you must share your deepest truth as directly and clearly as possible. Now, in a single sentence, I will summarize your work. Your work is about helping people align their decisions with their core values!"

It was the most simple, succinct, accessible, comprehensive and beautiful description of my research. More importantly, I started to wonder, what is marketing really about? I realized that I'd been filtering my understanding of marketing through my own biases and to reexamine this question, I had to ask a more fundamental question, "Do our beliefs create our experiences, or do our experiences create our beliefs?" A professor of mine once shared a three-step exercise he did at a retreat that provides insight into this question.

In the first step, he was asked to look at a sculpture with intense love and note his experiences -- he found grandness, beauty, simplicity and many other "good things." Then he was asked to look at the same sculpture with intense hatred. He noted paint peeling off, problems with symmetry and many other "bad things." In the third step, he was asked to look at that sculpture with neither love nor hatred. At this point, he realized his beliefs were completely swaying his experience in the previous two steps, and was convinced of something powerful: by making the polarities of his perception explicit, he was able to release their subconscious hold. As a result, the quality of his third experience was poignantly clear, and he was able see things more as they were. We can understand marketing more truly by adopting this method.

Belief: Marketing is Good: Take the example of the Buddha, an expert marketer of grand ideas -- he never delivered his message in the same way to everyone, instead tailoring it to the occasion, with mindfulness of his listener's ability to access his message. He focused on asceticism with the monks, on being a good householder with householders, and building a strong republic with kings. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were also legendary marketers in recent times. Gandhi made full use of the pen to take his message of nonviolence and commitment to truth far and wide. His short phrase, "The fragrance remains on the hand that gives the rose," was his philosophy of marketing. His vision was that of providing people a way to constructively channel their frustration with a great injustice. Be it spinning cotton at home or making salt from the sea, he connected a great pain with a simple, yet great action. These examples have one thing in common: the marketers did their marketing without any expectations of personal gain, and had in their hearts the well-being of those they wanted to serve.

Belief: Marketing is Bad: This was a viewpoint I held for a long time. I remember reading Robert Cialdini's Psychology of Influence for an Organizational Behavior class; the book horrified me with its depiction of what goes on in marketing -- its study of human habits for the express purpose of manipulating people into buying things, regardless of actual need. Cialdini described our tendency to fall into repeated patterns with a succinct phrase, "Click, whirr." That is how mechanistic and predictable we humans tend to be. For example, marketers know that we respond to kindness and gifts, so they bombard our mail with gifts goading us into purchases. Over time, we develop a thick skin to avoid being sold on something, although researchers find that we are less successful than we might think.

Marketing As It Is: When I consider the things that I've desired and acquired, I wonder, why am I bored with many of them quickly? It is usually because I discover that these things are severely limited. So then, what I'm really seeking is limitless satisfaction. There are those who are skeptical about this and say, "there's enough for our need, not enough for our greed." What if there were enough for our limitless wants? What if we could really have limitless satisfaction?

The trick is that limitless satisfaction cannot be achieved with anything that is limited. Now, there is nothing mysterious about limitlessness -- anyone who has meditated deeply and felt something separate from their thoughts has tasted it. Those who have not meditated may also have tasted it, by entering "the zone" at work or in sports, where their effort seems effortless. Or by giving or receiving overwhelming unconditional love. Or by giving up on a complex problem only to have an elegant solution float in front of their eyes.

In all these experiences, we don't remember the "I," however briefly that may be, and this is where it gets intriguing. What emerges from this space is a creative impulse grounded in abundance. In every experience that has been marketed to us, this is what we have really been looking for. A connection to our own limitless creativity. We are deeply joyful when the connection is made -- and deeply sorrowful when it eludes us. Ironically, we can only perceive this limitlessness when it is limited through our creations, just as light can only be perceived when bounded by darkness.

It's a game. We enjoy this play of placing limitations on ourselves and then breaking these limitations over and over again to discover that we cannot be limited! Going back to the CEO's message, we can now restate the truest purpose of all marketing: it is a game of inviting others to access their unlimited creative nature by sharing our creations with them, and doing so within the limits they've placed on their time.

Of course, not everyone sees it this way. There are marketers who have exploitative and deceitful intent -- wouldn't blindly accepting their invitation amount to falling into a trap? An ancient Indian tale inspires us to deepen our awareness. Whenever sages would grow powerful in their practice of connecting with their limitlessness, the lord of the senses, Indra, would feel terribly insecure and try to disrupt their practice. When all material pleasures would fail, Indra would send sensuous beauties to distract them. Most would succumb, but not all. As the story goes, one sage was invited by Indra to attend a dance by his most beautiful dancer. As she proceeded to dance, she also started to strip, and to Indra's delight, the sage swayed wildly, saying, "Take it off, take it off." This continued, and soon there was nothing left to take off. Indra was certain that he had knocked the sage's mind off of limitlessness. And then, he noticed strangely that the sage continued to sway and utter, "Take it off. Take it off."

The stunned silence from Indra and his dancer marked their recognition of one who pierced through the limited into the limitless. By being established in his own limitlessness, that unknown sage transcended all judgments and words, and effortlessly marketed a timeless possibility: it is always possible to see the limitless in our own limited experiences. Are we game?

Craving Zen and Inspiration

I have this nifty little zen sandbox on my desk. It’s about 3 inches wide and about 9
inches long, has a little rake, 7 stones and about 6 tablespoons of sand, if that. Sounds like an insignificant little desk decoration, doesn’t it? Ah, but in its simplicity lies extraordinary gifts.

A recent study by Basex, a New York research firm, found that office distractions ate up 2.1 hours a day for the average worker. Another study found that employees devoted an average of 11 minutes to a project before being distracted. Researchers Gloria Mark and Victor Gonsalez of the University of California, Irvine, found that once interrupted, it takes workers 25 minutes to return to the original task, if they return at all. “People switch activities, such as making a call, speaking with someone in their cubicle or working on a document, every three minutes on average,” Mark was quoted as saying.

So, how many times a day do you wander away either physically, mentally or both for lack of focus or worse, for lack of creative inspiration?

As many jobs in the United States move further away from the old factory style, process driven work that used to be prevalent, and move into a more skills and ingenuity based model, the most successful companies are increasingly becoming the most creative ones. Out is the old mind numbing, repetition based work, and in is the new and ever changing creative and inventive, idea based work.

So how to spark that creative enthusiasm at the office when you have to tackle some project that you are perhaps not so passionate about? How can you build a creative palace inside the same old work cubicle that you are so familiar with? Here are a few tips.

Want Something New for Yourself

The most important step in the process begins inside of you. You have to want to add something, life or a spark or a new perspective, to your work. Often, if they can get away with either pummelling through a task on automatic pilot or attacking it with zest and excitement, many people will choose the former simply because it’s less work. It’s hard to fire up those creative juices, and all the best tips in the world will not help you one bit unless you really, in your heart, want to find inspiration.

Change it Up a Bit

Sometimes being in the same space with the same layout day after day after year can be a major contributor to brain fry. Try moving around the furniture a bit to get your creative juices flowing. Put the desk over by the other window. Change a few of the pictures around or buy a new painting or print for the wall. Experiment with different flowers in fun, colorful vases. If you keep doing the same thing you can expect much of the same results. Sometimes just switching around a few basic things in your workspace can give your mind an entirely new and fresh perspective on life.

Write it Down!

Your mind is like a continual idea factory always pumping out ideas. Granted, many of these are illogical, unusable, or even unrelated. Ask yourself this: If I have to write down a hundred lame or unrelated ideas to get to one jewel, is it still worth it for me? If your answer is "damn straight! Yes", then grab a Post-It and a pen or your cell phone and get into the habit of writing down practically everything that comes to mind. Develop some kind of a system to mine through those ideas at a later date in order to sort out the bad from the good from the brilliant.

Take Breaks!

An essential step for the most creative minds, stopping and thinking about something else every once in a while can be one of the most crucial parts of your creative work day. It's all about stepping back and looking at the big picture, but sometimes it’s more about stepping away and looking at a different picture for a while. Hence, my little desktop Zen sandbox. Schedule five minute breaks throughout your day and use these to go somewhere else and do something completely unrelated to your tasks. Go outside, stand in a patch of grass, and look at the sky. Find some carpeting and do a couple of stretches. Close your eyes and meditate on all the wonderful things in your life. When you get back to work, you will find your brain to be much more amenable, and your inspiration levels will soar.

The People Mill!

Running your good ideas through other people can often turn them into great ideas. There’s simply nothing like collaboration if you want to do something really great. Find some like-minded people and use them to bounce your ideas off of. They will often open your eyes to new aspects of an idea that you might not have thought of before. Make sure to also give them feedback on their ideas as well. Honesty is important in a process like this and there is no room for negativity. Make it a rule that all ideas will be considered.

Brainstorming is Key!

Besides all the wonderful tips above which can do wonders for indirectly or directly stimulating creativity, it’s also important to set aside a specific time to actually be creative. Dedicate a portion of your day to turning everything else off and focusing on pulling down that new inspiration. Better than a time limit, an idea goal will help get you started on the right foot. Keep with this brainstorming process until you have come up with a lucky number of seven to ten fresh ideas. They don’t all have to be good ideas either, just whatever comes to mind. Later you can sort them out and see if you’ve come up with anything truly genius.

Inspiration can be found in even the most mundane of places. We just need to learn how to spark our own inspirational fire by changing the typical way we view our work and responsibilities. Make interacting with creative others a normal part of your routine, and find time to break up the monotony of your daily schedule. Seek inspiration when you might usually zone-out and go on autopilot, and always look for an opportunity to grow.

If you are interested in owning your own Zen Sandbox, please let me know. I know the manufacturer directly and have them available for purchase for $5 + S+H.

Online or Offline, that is the Question...

I’m told that many business owners feel like they have two businesses; the one they started in brick in mortar and the one they launched as the power of the internet took hold. I’ve been asked repeatedly by clients lately, how do I integrate my existing brands and company awareness with that of the one the internet seems to be creating for me?

My first response is that the branding of your products and services does not have to differ between marketing or information venues. Moreover, it is the nurturing of the relationship with your customer that is always the key to your success so it is THAT element that must be reflective of the venue. So, if you start from that basic premise supported by your unparalleled customer service and attention to detail, you back into how you provide that continuity of support in an online environment.

Online businesses as extensions to brick and mortar businesses offer unlimited ability to reach your potential customers when it is convenient for them, rather than when the doors of your office suite or retail shop are open to the sunshine. Remembering as you expand your online footprint that your customer base is more global, may not know you or your products and may be coming to you with preconceived notions about what you are offering or what their needs are is imperative.

Your online presence is an extension of your existing business if you so position it, however, you must remember that a global audience has probably never heard of you before and is often comparing you to others. If you consciously begin offering other products and services through your portal to the world, however, you begin to recreate yourself and indeed, will find yourself running two separate and distinct operations unless you then import your new direction into your brick and mortar business.

Running An Offline Business vs. An Online Business

Running a company as an "offline" business is very different than running a business online. While the goal of selling a product or service may be the same, the means used to actually achieve those sales can be very different.

Offline enterprise companies will often have an extended outside sales force that will travel to potential customer locations and demo the products or meet with the potential customer to explain the services. Traditional companies will also run seminars or training sessions from time to time or offer other support mechanisms to maintain a close, supportive relationship. Some of these techniques have been adopted for online companies, with some online companies scheduling online demos or holding webinars (website-based seminars), but it really isn't standard fare for the typical "online" company. It is far more common that an online company will offer promotions including sampling, free trials, and online specific promotions with very little overhead and marketing cost to the company itself.

Running an Offline Business in combination with your Online Business

It is important to provide continuity in branding, philosophy, and policy whether you are marketing on or offline. Consider your online presence simply as an extension of your offline business, and use the same principles online as you would offline. Continuity should exist within the brand. In other words, the image portrayed online should be consistent with any existing offline branding. Use the same color schemes, logos, tag lines, and company philosophy online as the ones that exist offline.

Online Shelf Space Is Free

Unlike retail stores, the "shelf space" online is essentially free and unlimited. That doesn't mean that you should clutter your website with excessive materials; it simply means that you can choose what to promote, as well as the amount of exposure the promoted items receive, and all at a relatively low cost.

Loyalty among your Current and Prospective, both Online and Offline Customers

A traditional retail business, with face-to-face customer interaction, can be very different from a virtual business, where customer contact is limited to phone, email, and interactive forums. It is more difficult to use these online channels to build customer loyalty.

It is important that online companies encourage communication with customers. Online companies can use website forums, blogs, RSS feeds, social networks, email, or even work to build an online "community" around their product or service. Strong communication is important to building customer loyalty. It takes more work to build loyalty online than offline. Online companies should provide communication in a variety of formats, so that customers and potential customers can choose how they want to receive information or updates.

Expanding Your Audience

The Internet is global. It is not uncommon for online companies to routinely sell into foreign markets. Offline companies, on the other hand, are often somewhat limited by geographical borders. Take the opportunity to pursue foreign markets at very low costs with an online presence.

An online business can be a lucrative extension of an offline business. Having an online presence is no longer simply a nice addition to an offline company -- it really is a necessity in this day and age. Consider this: if your company does not have an online presence, chances are good that your competition does, and they are taking business that could be yours.

Small to Mid Size Business Use of Twitter Doubles

No surprise to us at Freakin' Genius Marketing, social media has become an important marketing tool for small businesses, particularly younger firms: 32% of small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) in operation for 0-6 years use Twitter, compared with just 7% of those in business for 11+ years, according to a report from BIA/Kelsey. Meanwhile, Twitter use among small to mid-size businesses doubled, from 9% in 2009 to 19% in 2010.

The longer a SMB has been in business, the less likely it is to use Twitter, and those older SMBs (11+ years in business) are more likely to use printed Yellow Pages (37%) than those in business 0-3 years (17%) or 4-6 years (22%).

Additionally, and also not really a surprise, nearly one-half (48%) of surveyed SMBs use Facebook to promote their businesses—even more than the 43% of SMBs that report using e-mail marketin, with over one in five (22%) SMBs use blogging to promote their businesses.

So it seems, digital media is a largely integrated part of most small to mid size businesses' marketing plans. Is it part of yours? Contact Freakin' Genius Marketing today to create a tactical action plan for digital in your marketing.

For more research results and to

Do you know who your SUPER INFLUENCERS are?

Ok, so you have a database and, yes- I know how much it cost and how painstaking it was to get them to opt-in to your mailings. I also know how challenging it is to create emailings and social-media based promotions to keep their attention without encouraging them to opt-out because of a deluge of offers you might be sending them.

Have you customized groups within your email databases? By doing this you can define criteria that enables you to market 1:1 to each of your customers based on their individual purchasing habits and overall interests with you and your business.

By customizing groups within your opt-in databases you will be able to identify who your target markets for specific “products” or “services” are rather than blanketing your whole database. Opt-in or otherwise, deluging your customers with offers that they won’t relate to is not a way to keep them lively and responsive.

Additionally, and more to the point of this blog post, have you identified your super influencers? These are your customers who are not only likely to purchase something from you, or take you up on one of your email promotional offers, but more importantly these are the customers who will share your offer with others. These are your “virtual” testimonials who will pass along your emails and your blog entries.

If you haven’t identified who your SUPER INFLUENCERS are yet, you may be spending a lot of time facilitating social media that isn’t working for you. You may be FB’ing and Tweeting but without a great sharing ROI (Return on Investment) on pass-along.

You know I’m big on ROI…in fact, it’s my mantra. So let me explain.

Simply slapping up social media content and hoping it works to build awareness and drive sales is not enough. Many business owners fail to get maximum exposure for their social media campaigns because they don't take the extra step to activate viral sharing of their content. And if marketers don't identify their key influencers and motivate them to share, they're missing out on the real promise of social media: Social content works best when it's shared.

According to industry research, people who visit a campaign link after it's shared with them convert at up to four times the rate of those who just fall upon it by chance. So when you encourage sharing, you aren’t just increasing your reach—you’re dramatically boosting your viewer conversion.

So how can you get your following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as bloggers who love your products and services, to start sharing your content far and wide?

Here are three key ways to activating your key influencers to share more and more often:

1. Identify your Super Influencers

You know the rule, 1% of your social media followers are responsible for the majority of sharing. These "super-influencers" share your social media campaigns with their larger social networks, passing on links to your contests, promotions, deals, and other marketing campaigns.

These influencers are more than just fans, they're ambassadors. The process is fairly straightforward. There are a boatload of social media measurement tools that enable marketers to find the people who are talking most about their brand; see what type of content they're sharing and with whom, and learn how they are sharing it (email, Twitter, Facebook, their own blogs, etc.).

Once you find your influencers, the trick is activating them to share even more.

2. Activate Your Super Influencers

Once you've identified your super-influencers, you need to motivate them to share more. Do this by offering them "sharing incentives" that encourage them to share and reward them for their efforts.

One of the best incentives you can provide is exclusive information. Super-influencers love to be an inside source of information for their friends and followers—sharing contests, information, or deals with their social networks before other people have heard about them. Create exclusive content you share only with your super-influencers, and let them know they're part of a select few to receive this special offer.

Other incentives you can offer include shareable friends-and-family discounts, access to exclusive or after-hour in-store sales, VIP parties, and discounts for sharing a deal with 10 friends.

You will also want to comment directly on your super-influencers' blogs, link to and promote their content whenever possible, and publicly thank them for their loyalty via email or posts.

3. Measure Your influencer's Effectiveness

You won't know whether sharing is working to increase brand influence and drive conversion if you don't measure it. It's important to find out exactly who is sharing your content the most, who they are sharing it with, where they are sharing it (which blogs, sites, and social networks, or via email), and whether that sharing is directly resulting in clicks and conversions. You can use those social media measurement tools I talked about above to find out the exact impact sharing is having on bottom-line results.

Creating and publishing social media content is not enough these days. Business owners that want to benefit from the real power of word-of-mouth need to find their super-influencers, and then motivate them to share. If you do this effectively, such sharers will directly boost traffic to your site and drive a large increase in conversion and hence, sales!