We don’t even have a title yet beyond the working title, but here’s a sneak preview of the introduction. Obviously, by the time this hits shelves, it may be different, so consider this a beta test of sorts.

Let’s try an experiment in marketing. Read this paragraph, then close your eyes and try to remember it word for word.

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved October 2007)” – American Marketing Association

How did you do? We failed right around the word institutions because we stopped caring.

For the premier marketing association in America, their definition of marketing needs some… well, marketing.

Let’s try this again. Read this paragraph, then close your eyes and try to remember it word for word.

Marketing is the sharing of ideas. – Marketing Over Coffee

Did you do better?

This is a book not about ideas, but about the sharing of ideas. Your ideas. Your company’s ideas. Your customers’ ideas. This is a book about ways your ideas will or won’t spread, and ways to make the former more likely than the latter. Above all else, this is a book that will help you be a better marketer.

Sit back, relax, pour yourself an extra large regular with 9 Sweet & Low, and let’s talk some marketing.

The Marketing Continuum

Every large company seems to have an org chart that looks roughly the same. Advertising. PR. Sales. Marketing. Customer service (outsourced). Business Development. Every large company has these departments, and by and large, the departments hate each other.

“Sales can’t make its numbers because our ads stink!”

“Customer service is swamped because Sales promised the customer something that doesn’t exist!”

“Marketing wants to kill everyone in customer service for creating that mess with a bunch of bloggers who are spewing venom about us on the Internet!”

Sound familiar?

The reason this happens is simple: everyone’s doing the same job, but they just don’t know it.

All of these professions – marketing, advertising, sales, customer service, PR, biz dev – are the same profession. We break them up into pieces because no one human being is scalable enough to do every job at a large company, but the fundamental job is the same:

Communicate skillfully.

Marketing, advertising, and PR all communicate to the outside world, to people who don’t know about our ideas yet, or who know about our ideas but don’t believe in them or in us. Marketing is the sharing of ideas.

Sales & business development communicate to people interested in our ideas and try to convince those people to become stakeholders in our ideas. Sales is the conversion of ideas into actions.

Customer service communicate to the people who already own our ideas and help make those ideas work better for the people, or at the very least fix broken ideas.

All of these forms exist on a smooth continuum with the customer. We break it up for job purposes, but really, who can say what the exact point is when marketing becomes sales? Who can say when the prospect finally convinces himself or herself that they want to partake of your idea? It might be face to face with a salesperson, sure. It might also be at 2 AM while they’re watching the late night special, and your brand finally makes that one impression that puts you over the top.

The vagueness of the continuum is doubly true in B2B marketing, since B2B relationships tend to be stronger than B2C. The business development woman you put at a trade show may be the primary contact for your company throughout the sales process, and depending on the size and importance of the account, may be customer service as well.

Want to improve your marketing? Treat everyone in the marketing continuum as a member of the marketing staff. Invite customer service reps to marketing meetings to get on-the-ground insights. Heck, take some of your managers and put them in service for a couple of days. Bring sales staff to advertising copy and design meetings. Get everyone who is involved in communicating together to share insights.

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