Peter Drucker, known as the father of modern management, was quoted in a 2006 article in Forbes as saying, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” Although today’s business owners are often inclined to see marketing as an expense, Drucker’s view is more accurate. Marketing is a needed investment. Marketing drives results by finding new customers.
When organizations treat marketing as a cost, they often focus on short-term sales and ignore the long term. However, if you want your company to continue growing, your goal should be to build as much of a moat around your business as you can. This is achieved by expanding your investment of marketing dollars into your company’s owned assets. Such investments may include; updating your message and website every year, producing customer video testimonials for use as sales tools, developing a series of educational webinars, and developing content that can be used both for thought leadership and for search engine optimization (SEO). Although these efforts may not produce short-term returns, they will aid in strengthening your manufacturing business over time.
The problem is that if you only look for marketing initiatives that guarantee an immediate ROI—consistent with a view of marketing as an expense—you will never plant any of these long-term marketing seeds needed to build the moat that is necessary to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Examining my own life as a business owner, I have “walked the walk” while growing TribalVision. The reason TribalVision has achieved success is that, from day one, I’ve understood the importance of marketing to unlock dramatic growth. Before even opening the doors for business, and with little money to spare, I wrote a book, spent months crafting TribalVision’s message, built a website that made TribalVision look like an established company, developed an animated video to explain the “why” behind TribalVision, wrote multiple white papers, developed numerous marketing presentations, and crafted a 30-page marketing plan to identify and capture new business.
If I had viewed marketing as an expense rather than an investment, I never would have done any of these activities. I simply would have started TribalVision with a business card, an average 10-page website and not much else, which is what most startups with little money do. Looking back 10 years later, although I cannot attribute a specific ROI to each of those assets, I know those investments as a whole provided a much larger payoff than I would have earned by focusing only on short-term ROI initiatives.
If we are to build something great, we must take a leap of faith—a calculated leap of faith but a leap of faith nonetheless.
If Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk invested only in efforts backed by guaranteed results, they never would have built their empires.
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