Ask someone you know about the sales or marketing profession, and you may get a less than positive diatribe about the worst-case experience. It is not new for people to hold negative opinions of the profession that works to persuade others to buy a product, service, or idea. Usually, the experiences most noted are those where the purveyor of influence was less than honest, or deceptive or where the resulting product, idea, or service failed to meet the customers’ expectations. As a matter of habit, most of us fail to reflect on the many times a well-written prose of marketing content, creative ad, or marketing influencer led us to discover a useful solution to a want, need or problem. To be very honest all of us are marketers or sellers of something, whether the act of informing and motivating another to act is a way of making a living or a volunteer effort to advance a meaningful cause.
For most people, the effort to move others to act is not of life-or-death importance, but for an entrepreneur or business owner, the profession of marketing is inseparable from all other elements of operating a business. At no time is this dual role more important or impactful to achieving sustainable business success than when the business is first established and emerging, because no one cares more passionately about the mission than the owner.
When done correctly, marketing is a generous act that listens to potential consumers, finds, or creates a solution, and delivers on the brand’s promises without utilizing tricks, scams, or distracting tactics. Marketing seeks to identify, target, and serve an audience looking for change or solutions to needs. “Great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems,” says Seth Godin.
Contrary to some marketing ideologies, throwing more and more money into the effort to inform and persuade does not produce more success. Changing minds is the most expensive aspect of marketing. Big budget, overt spectacles, special effects, and inauthentic hyperbole will most often end up alongside all the other loud noise in the promotional space. Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder of HubSpot, says, “Although it is still possible to blast the world with your message and offering, and try to interrupt your way into people’s lives with your marketing, that’s the most expensive way to do it. The cheaper and better way is to tell a story or share something helpful and useful: that’s the power of content marketing.”
Everybody loves a good story, and that thought is not just a popular line of prose. It’s a truth based on science. It is a fact that when a listener hears a well-told story, the brain reacts as if they are experiencing it in person. As marketing professionals and business owners, we are all about attracting customers for our businesses and our clients’ businesses. A well-told, personalized, and authentic story will deliver the message, increase sales, enhance visibility, and engage a targeted audience in a cost-effective way.