To paraphrase the golden rule, market to others as you would have them market to you. In what marketing textbook is it written that marketing must be intrusive, obnoxious, insulting or unethical? If you love receiving phone calls during the dinner hour, then by all means, telemarket your service. But consider how your customers or clients like to receive information. If you are unsure, ask them.
As to ethics and manipulation, your ideal customer doesn't like being lied to anymore than you do. A business that honors your core values will more than likely honor your customer as well. The impact of customer satisfaction is huge. A general rule of thumb is that when someone likes a product, they tell an average of three other people about it. However, when they are unhappy, they will tell seven other people about their negative experience.
The last common-sense guideline is to do what you are comfortable with. If you detest public speaking, don't do it. You will be uncomfortable and probably not show your business in its best light. An alternative might be to write articles or put up a Web site that people could visit. Create the marketing mix of product, promotion and pricing that works with your style and supports your values. This might mean hiring people to do the parts you feel are necessary but are not prepared to do yourself.
Find a Need and Fill
The best definition I ever saw of marketing was on the side of a cement truck on a California freeway. The big mixing drum was rotating, and the slogan painted on the side was "Find a Need and Fill It." Rarely do people purchase goods or services unless they perceive a need. And it is an uphill battle to educate someone who doesn't believe they need something. So target marketing was invented. You have to find the people who have the need for what you're offering.
Define your ideal customer or client. Then spend some time thinking about how they make purchasing decisions. Who influences them? Where do they get their information? What is the need your business fills, and what are the benefits to the customers?
Once you have identified customer needs and benefits, checked your business against your core values, assessed your personal strengths and weaknesses in communicating with prospects, and reconnected with the passion that brought you to this career in the first place, you are well on your way to marketing from the inside out.
Later articles in this series will examine how to do a market analysis and build an effective marketing plan that works for you.
Rebecca Cooper is a professional and personal coach who works with visionary people seeking to create and live authentic lives. She helps provide clarity, illuminate choices and reflect the passion of her clients. To explore what's next in your life, e-mail her at Rebecca@authentes.com or visit her Web site at www.authentes.com.