Surprisingly few people can even tell you the purposes of marketing, let alone how to achieve those primary purposes.

What is the purpose of marketing? If I ask 100 business people this simple question, I”ll get 100 different answers. Some people would say marketing”s job is to get your name out in the marketplace. Others would say marketing positions your company or builds your brand name. Most hope marketing generates sales. Others would say that marketing”s job is to generate leads that are then handed over to the sales department. Still others would say it”s to build brand awareness, hoping people remember the name when they go to buy. And there”s always the group that just says marketing”s job is “to make money.”

All of these answers are partially right. All of the answers are results of what happens when your marketing and advertising does what it is supposed to do.

Marketing is supposed to do three things:

Objective #1: Capture the attention of your target market (prospects). Although this seems straight forward, there are right ways and wrong ways to do this. Our method that ensures you always do it the right way. Unfortunately, it”s done the wrong way 99 percent of the time.

Objective #2
: Facilitate the prospect”s decision-making process. Teach and train people how to make the best purchasing decision. Give them enough information to facilitate their making the best decision possible when buying what you have to sell.

You have prospects who need to buy what you sell. There are plenty of people who are starving and craving information and solutions you can provide. Because they”re not experts at what you do, they don”t know the benchmarks or the relevant issues surrounding the decision. They don”t know how to make the best decision, which gives you an opportunity to guide them through this process. Your job is to share information to help them make the best decision possible. If the best decision is to buy from you-and it should be-then that”s all the better. You should think of yourself as the “fountain from whence all knowledge flows,” at least knowledge relevant to what you”re selling.

All business owners and stakeholders want the same things: They want more new customers and less competition, more profitability and less waste, more retention and less turnover among their best employees, better results from their marketing and advertising, more loyalty from their customers, and higher conversion ratios for their salespeople. In short, they want to make more money.

Your prospects and customers want the same things. They want to feel confident that their money is well spent and their purchasing decisions are wise. They want to get the best deal in terms of both price and value. You never hear anybody say, “I shopped eight car dealerships and negotiated the best possible price, then decided to buy where I got the third best deal.” No! People intuitively want to make the best decision possible, for them, and not feel like they have to second-guess themselves all the time.

So, we have two sets of values: The business wants more customers, more loyal customers and higher margins. Customers want to feel confident that the get the best possible deal in terms of overall value. The process and principles that govern the matching of those two sets of values are the same for every business.

As the marketer, “all” you have to do is figure out what”s important to your prospects, educate them about what constitutes the best deal in your area, and then provide quantifiable proof that you provide that best deal in terms of price and value. If you communicate that message properly, your prospects and customer will pay attention to the message, believe you, and then take action. They will then get what they want from you: the best deal in terms of price and value with the confidence that they are making the best decision possible for them.

The problem is most businesses don”t hold up their end of the bargain. Instead of using marketing to build a case that facilitates the decision-making process, most companies fill their marketing with self-serving hyperbole, fluff and platitudes that are only a thinly veiled way to say, “Buy from me because I want you to give your money to me instead of somebody else.” That”s why people become jaded and resist marketing. They tend to either dismiss it or become skeptical of the messages. But you don”t want to breed skepticism! You want your prospects to say that they”d have to be absolute fools to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price!

Objective #3: Give your customers a specific, low-risk, easy-to-take action that further facilitates their ability to make a good decision. Lower the risk of taking the next step in the buying process so you can further educate them.

You can”t cram everything that a person needs to know into one advertisement. You have to find a way to give them more information-and you do this via marketing tools-reports, websites, audio CDs, and CD ROMs.

Have you ever bought a new home from a builder? They have lots of ways to advertise and promote, one being the Sunday paper in the New Homes section. But if you look in that section of the newspaper, you”ll see that none of the ads there accomplishes the three objectives of marketing: 1) to capture the attention of the target market, 2) facilitate their decision-making process by educating them about what they need to know, and 3) give them a low-risk way to become more educated and take the next step to further the buying process. Those ads don”t do this. Instead, they feature beautiful, happy, smiling people, pictures of houses and floor plans, price ranges of homes, and maps to various neighborhoods.

The ads all look virtually identical and contain similar pictures and words. From the prospect”s standpoint, they are the same. There”s nothing to get their attention, no acknowledgement of what the customers needs or problems might be. And, there”s nothing in any of the ads to educate the prospect. There”s nothing to facilitate their decision-making processes. There”s nothing to show them what they need to know or tell them what issues to consider. How many things do you need to know when buying a new home? Are you an expert on lumber, plumbing, masonry, electrical, insulation, flooring, framing, roofing, finish out, and the 613 other relevant, pertinent issues involved with building a home? Of course not. And you won”t be after reading those ads, either.

I”m not saying every buyer wants to know all that stuff; I am saying that all buyers would like to at least be aware of the relevant issues that are at stake. With these ads, all you know is that smiling people supposedly live there, and they all have floor plans and maps to neighborhoods. All of these ads are ineffective because prospective buyers want and need to be educated-so they can feel confident when making their decision. Nobody is providing this information. The first one who does, wins.

Then there”s no low-risk way for the prospect to take the next step in the buying process. The only option these ads give is to come into the model home. You say, “That”s low risk.” The heck it is! If you”re just thinking about buying a new home, and the only option is to come to a model home that”s 45 minutes from your house, and you know that it will stocked with starving salespeople who will do everything in their power to force you to buy that home on the spot, is that low risk?

All of the ads fail miserably on this level; as a result, they get lost in the shuffle of all the other ads.

There”s a better way to handle this situation.

Why do you think that marketing people always feel forced into a price-competitive situation? If you feel like that”s the case in your business, it”s your own fault. Your lack of marketing ability has led to a situation where there are no distinctions between you and your competitors. You haven”t introduced the proper parameters or educated your prospects on the relevant issues. You”ve made no offers to lower the risk of taking the next step.

Effective marketing accomplishes all three objectives. It causes your prospects and customers to conclude: “I would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you regardless of price.”

If you feel that you”re always competing on price, it”s because price is the only relevant variable you”ve given your prospects to consider, and from the prospect”s perspective, all things are equal, so they would be fools not to demand a lower price.