There are more kinds of marketing today than ever before. But I think many people (most people) have a very narrow definition of marketing. I think most people think about marketing as promotion. So, advertising and email campaigns are marketing.
I take a much broader view. I think of marketing more like branding: It’s everything you do. It ranges from the way you treat employees to the services you offer; from the way you greet new clients to the way you invoice.
Your clients are not merely buying your products and services. Chances are excellent that they can get those anywhere. Clients are buying you, your company, and the way you do everything. With that in mind, here are my three favorite kinds of marketing that you may not have viewed as marketing at all.
Education Marketing happens when you lead with education as a way to introduce new people to your brand as well as a great way to train your existing clientele to be more successful. The two most common “flavors” of education marketing are product training and more generalized business training. Education Marketing is perhaps the greatest marketing opportunity of the 21st Century – so far.
Product training is pretty obvious. You training clients and prospects on the products and services they buy from you. This is fairly obvious and is not the best “marketing” option I’ll address. More generalized business training is perhaps the best marketing you can do. It is not focused on you and your products. Instead, the focus is squarely on the client and how they can be more successful.
When you contribute directly to your clients’ success, productivity, or security, they are more likely to see you as a business partner rather than a sales person who only calls when they want money. 🙂
And don’t forget, we also love to be on the receiving end of good educational marketing. If someone will show me how to get the most out of a product or service, I am very grateful. Whether it’s in person or online, I am very likely to remember who helped me get smarter on a subject.
Network Marketing happens when you participate in social or business groups. These include online and in-person groups. My favorite local networking groups are on Meetup.com.
As a rule, the best marketing happens when the group is not about marketing and not about selling to each other. Groups might focus on social outings, sports, physical activities, hobbies, or business. But the topic is something you all have in common.
Sometimes, people start networking groups online (Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc.) simply as a way to promote their goods. Everyone sees this. I feel like yelling at them: “Everyone sees what you’re doing!” But the more effective groups are for people who share common interests and challenges.
So, if you’re not openly selling, why is this a good marketing technique. Quite simply, fully participating makes you an “insider.” So, when you have a favor to ask, people are eager to give you feedback, support you, and help promote you. As you would do for them. For example, I participate in writers’ groups. We all give advice freely. And when someone needs a little boost, we’re all eager to help.
Leadership Marketing happens when you jump in and contribute, rather than just show up and watch. Whether online or in-person, a lot of people want to show up and take notes. But they’d rather not volunteer and help the organization run.
“Leadership” does not have to mean that you volunteer to run the whole show. Participating and raising your hand when something needs to be done is also leadership.
Leadership marketing follows from network marketing. First you join the group, then you become a true contributor. There are people who are never elected chair or president, but frequently offer their advice and experience. They are all leaders.
John Milton says, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”* But that stanza is about serving God. Serving each other usually involves more than watching others do the work.
It should come as no surprise that these marketing activities are found in various combinations with one another. Many groups need regular speakers. So, network marketing requires a certain level of education marketing. And, obviously, volunteerism and full participation are active at all levels.
The final thing you need to accept is that none of these is a good sales technique. Sales doesn’t happen until you ask someone for their money. See What is Sales. Everything before that is marketing. As a marketing technique, each of the approaches outlined here takes time. You provide education to build your brand. You participate in groups to build your reputation. You participate fully to build relationships.
In other words, these techniques are great for laying the groundwork. At some point, you’ll get the opportunity to make a sale. But that’s a different activity altogether.