By . Published in Professional Planner, March 27, 2017

This week, I read with some bemusement an article quoting the chief marketing officer of Samsung in North America, who said the term ‘marketing’ needs to die. The nub of his argument is that the word is obsolete, and the role of a marketer has changed and is being held back by old-school thinking. It strikes me that the role of the financial planner has changed dramatically since the 1980s, yet I’m still comfortable calling you, well…financial planners.

Why do people in marketing seem to have an obsession for making things more complicated for the rest of us? That said, the article makes some valid points, especially about the future role of marketers. But it reminded me of a question I’ve heard before, especially from small and medium-sized businesses that wonder whether the costs outweigh the benefits: “Do I really need marketing?”

Marketing is not only important, it’s more important than ever. Here are my top three reasons why.

Marketing can engage your clients before your sales team even knows they exist.

Today’s consumers have more choice than ever before, and make decisions based on an endless stream of information they have access to 24/7. In fact, by the time a potential client makes contact with you, they’ve already completed as much as 80 per cent of their decision-making process. And until this prospective customer called your company or hit the “Contact Us” button on your website, your sales team may not even have known they were a prospect.

So how do you influence these potential clients while they’re in the information-gathering phase? With your marketing messages. A core component is your website – everything from how well the site is designed to guide the user from prospect to client, to the quality of the content on each page. Your content marketing is another crucial element. That means all your thought leadership, such as the blogs and articles you write, should be a part of a broader marketing strategy.

If you don’t have an effective go-to-market message, chances are today’s consumer won’t ever find you…but they might find your competition.

Marketing drives your growth

An area I explored in my post last week was the need to have a marketer who isn’t just creative but strategic as well. One of the key reasons a marketing strategy is so important is that it sets the foundation for how you’re going to win new business. In part, I’m talking about your messaging, but it goes further than that. Your marketing strategy also drives how you structure your offering to attract clients.

For your growth to take off, though, you need to apply your marketing strategy not only externally with your clients but also internally with your employees. An effective marketing strategy shows your people the direction of your business and how they should talk to clients about what you do. If you don’t get your employees on the right page, you’re likely to spend a lot of money on activities that fail to engage your clients.

Marketing puts the client at the heart of your decision-making.

If every business that says it is client focused were truly client focused, what a wonderful world this would be, filled with happy consumers. The fact is, being client focused doesn’t come naturally or by chance. And, you guessed it, this is another area where a marketing strategy can help you, because here’s the key thing to remember about marketing: it’s all about the client.

Formalising your marketing strategy forces you to focus on your client. After all, in order to know which messages will resonate with your prospective clients, you have to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand how they see your business.

Done right, marketing also makes you consider the rest of your client’s journey through your business after the sale. It’s about more than signing the client; it helps you retain and grow their business as well, and it speaks to both prospective and existing clients.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine

So, is it the end of marketing? Most definitely not. Sure, people in some quarters may want to change the name, but whether you call it marketing, customer experience or the next buzzword someone coins…it’s still marketing! And it’s still the best way to talk to your clients.

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