There’s a common fallacy among non-marketing folks that marketing = advertising.
A marketing theory textbook will tell you in no uncertain terms that advertising is only one form of promotion, and that promotion is only one element of marketing.
In marketing, we often refer to the 4 P’s: product, price, place, and promotion.
However, there’s one more element that most marketers forget: proof.
Proof is exactly what is sounds like. It’s evidence that your messaging matches – or doesn’t match – with what you are providing your customers.
What you promote, is what most marketers can excel at. It’s your logo, the photography on your website, the buy-one-get-one discounts you run, your email newsletter, your Facebook ads, etc.
Marketers love this side of marketing because it’s the side they get to control. It’s their domain, it’s what they do.
But there’s another side of marketing that goes beyond making things look and sound great. It’s the proof that what you say is what your customers will get. The proof lies in customer’s experiences.
It can be easy for marketers to puff up their chests and bravely ignore the proof. They might say, “I’ve done everything I can, I set up a gorgeous website and my promotions run well and my messaging connects with customers. Everything else isn’t my responsibility.”
If you set your shipping policy as two days and promote that everywhere you can – your website, your ads, your social media – but your shipping department is averaging three days, what can you do? You don’t work in shipping, it’s not your responsibility.
As it turns out, it is your responsibility! The proof of what you market is part of your marketing.
In fact, the proof is the most important part of marketing.
Your customer loyalty program isn’t driven by discounts and coupons, it’s driven by people who experience your organization and love it so much that they become loyal.
The Power of the Proof
There’s a great business concept called “Surprise and Delight.”
Surprise and Delight (v): the act of turning customers into lifelong superfans by catching them off-guard (surprise) in a positive manner (delight).
It’s easy to draw the connection between delighting customers and return business. Excellent service, a great atmosphere, a powerful brand, and high perceived value all contribute to delighting a customer.
That’s what’s going to act as a mental cue the next time they think about where they want to shop, or where they want to eat, or with whom they want to do business. When they think of your business, they’re going to think of a fantastic experience they had with you.
Remember, the experience they have with your business is the proof of what you say in your marketing!
If their experience was poor, you can forget about retaining them and go spend your money trying to find a new customer. If their experience was average, then you’re still competing for price, quality, or convenience.
If their experience was outstanding, you have a loyal customer.
According to Simon Sinek, “loyalty exists when an existing customer chooses to do business with you even when a cheaper, more convenient or even higher quality option is on offer from another company.”
That may seem like irrational behavior, but it’s how people work.
Let’s go back to the concept of surprise and delight. Surprises matter. As Simon would say, it’s just biology.
When a person encounters a pleasurable experience that they don’t expect, their nucleus accumbens gets a flood of dopamine. In other words, your brain’s pleasure center lights up.
Disney does a remarkable job at this in their parks. Everybody who works there is in a customer service role.
That’s because Disney understands that great experiences when you don’t expect them are super powerful.
Now, you don’t have to be Disney, but you should understand the power of surprise and delight, and how that can drive the best kind of business there is: repeat business.
Making what you market isn’t just good for business, it’s a matter of your integrity.
As a marketing agency, we take organization’s missions and we make them successful.
What we don’t do is portray our clients as something they’re not. If you’re not marketing who you actually are, that lacks integrity.
If you have a commitment to a two-day shipping policy but you’re averaging three, you need to either correct your messaging or improve some processes.
Your messaging in your marketing has to be consistent with who you are.
Now of course, there’s a gap between who you are and who you want to be. This article could have been titled Market What You Make, but you have aspirations for your business!
Your messaging has to be consistent with who you are – before you start marketing yourself as your company 2.0, make sure you actually get there.
When you make what you market, marketing yourself suddenly gets a whole lot easier.