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Do I Need Marketing? Some Lessons from Only the Paranoid Survive

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Do I need marketing? It’s a question I get frequently asked by customers. As I look out onto the show floor at SI Executive Forum here in Miami, I see a healthy industry, but one with some concerns. Growth’s been good, but the people at Staffing Industry Analysts are reporting moderation and some people think they may already be feeling it. When times are good, there’s more business than people can handle, and when it gets rough, it seems like nothing is going to help, let alone marketing, which most people view as an expense. Let me give you a short answer. You can’t afford not to market. Andy Grove, co-founder, former CEO of Intel and author of Only the Paranoid Survive, once said the best time to invest in a business is during a downturn. Think about that – it’s counterintuitive because the semiconductor industry is one of the most cyclical businesses on the planet. Intel’s marketing strategy was to build the premier semiconductor brand in the world, which it did during the halcyon days of the PC. When the inevitable downturn came, it had the best brand, and it could adjust its marketing strategy, leveraging its brand, to being a partner to the PC manufacturers. This strategy not only enabled them to survive during the downturns with minimal disruption to their business, but thrive and beat their competition handily when high volume orders came back. Sounds like a winning combination doesn’t it? I’m not suggesting you can exercise the same market power as Intel, but then again, maybe you can within your local market or with your most important customers with the right strategy.

Marketing is about fulfilling a need and it is symbiotic with sales. Great sales strategy and execution helps you exceed your revenue targets during the boom times. However, the combination of great sales and marketing, propels market domination and lasting value through whatever economic conditions you face. So the real question isn’t do I need marketing, it’s what kind of marketing do I really need and how do I apply it to fit my business, market and long term objectives. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be delving into this topic to share some trade secrets I’ve learned from marketing technology and services over the last twenty-five years (I’ll take the hit on my “seasoning” to get your attention) that has helped one start up go public and two others achieve successful M&A. What you won’t hear from me is esoteric blather about branding. I’ll share some sound, low cost, yet holistic ideas that hopefully will get you thinking out-of-the box. I will also let you in on something that hopefully isn’t too much of a secret – your best marketing tool may be something you’re looking at right now – Bullhorn and its CRM. We’ll talk about that but go beyond it to demystify marketing and how to apply that great marketing equalizer – the Internet – to your advantage. Till the next time.