Invention is Your Business Engine, Marketing is its Fuel

“If you build  it, he will come.”

So goes the old saying of "Field of Dreams" fame, dedicated to encouraging anyone and everyone with a vision to see it through and trust in the outcome. It's something that can be easily paraphrased for your business as well, "if you make it great, customers will come."

Unfortunately this overlooks a key part of the process, the marketing of the product you sell or the service you offer.

[caption id="attachment_2562" align="aligncenter" width="546"]Vanity phone number on truck To keep your business moving, the fuel of marketing is required.[/caption]

Invention is Only the First Step

Simply developing an outstanding product or service is rarely enough, even though it is the most important part of any success story. The idea that customers will immediately gather to buy and the business or creator will become rich is a romantic one but not really based in reality for most business owners. Marketing budgets are big for a reason, and that reason is that great marketing bridges the gap between potential and execution.

Marketing has taken on something of a negative meaning in some entrepreneurial circles perhaps it has always been so - but it's also always been an integral part of bringing a product or service to the people. Whether we loathe or love the idea of marketing, every business is fueled by the connections it makes with customers through any number of channels, from social media and advertising campaigns to good old fashioned word of mouth.

Peter Thiel takes on this concept in his recent book Zero to One, who points out that marketing isn’t about much more than used car salesmen and sellers of snake oil. Marketing is making people aware that you exist, honking your horn a bit, and helping them understand why what you sell is so great; how it can help them in their daily lives. This doesn’t excuse inferior products or service, in fact it means that your business must walk the walk as well as talk the talk if you expect serious, long-term success.

Quite simply marketing means that people must be made aware of a new product if they are going to use it. Remember the zen wisdom about the sound of a tree falling in the forest? Well, even the best product in the world has limited sales if no one hears about it!

Great Marketing Fuels Your Product's Fire

There are any number of examples of cases where great creative minds and businesses have been scuppered by the Achilles Heel of poor marketing.

Electronics contemporaries Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, for example,  both were striking minds, geniuses who changed things for the better. The household name is Edison, though, who was a born marketer and businessman. Tesla has more recently received greater recognition, but this is late coming and, ironically, is somewhat shaped by the powerful word-of-mouth marketing propelled by the electric car company that adopted his name. Edison could  sell well and let the right people know about what he made.

Even Apple, the current king of desirable designer products and one of the world's biggest brands, saw a time when it's arguably superior computing achievements were overwhelmed by Microsoft, who got traction with the business market and got the Windows message through to so many people that it dominated for more than a decade. Despite a general malaise towards Microsoft, its marketing arm was a major factor in making the name synonymous with computing in the nineties.

Just like the market place, marketing itself keeps changing. There are more channels than ever to reach your customers but, if you can believe it, things are even more noisy out there and connecting with customers can be hard.

Having the right tools in your marketing tools in your kit helps a great deal, with memorable contact details, strong branding, and effective measurement all playing their part.  The rapid development of online analytics has made it possible to reach the exact people who will be most likely to buy in to your services. You can also understand what those people are doing with the content and marketing materials you put out there into the world, which helps to hone your message and deliver the best marketing message you can conjure up.

When it comes down to it, a great product with excellent customer service will always win the day. But the difference between having potential and winning with it comes down to great marketing, which is the fuel in the any successful company's engine.

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