Mind Over Market

Over 20 years ago, Jay Conrad Levinson changed the way entrepreneurs thought about marketing with his book, Guerrilla Marketing. Now, he shows you how to master guerrilla marketing for the 21st century.
Magazine Contributor
11 min read

This story appears in the March 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Editor's Note: Looking for our online exclusive? Click here for even more guerrilla marketing techniques from Al Lautenslager.

Have you ever wondered why you don't have all the clients or customers you need? Many times it's because you can't decide where to begin marketing, you aren't sure how to put the pieces together, or you can't stay motivated and focused. You are capable of doing many of the things required for effective marketing, but the real question is, will you?

If you're making a list of the top three things that would make your business a success today, marketing should be at the top of the list. Pure and simple, if people don't know about you, your products or your services, they can't buy from you.

The answer to today's marketing and sales challenges starts with developing the guerrilla marketing mind-set. A marketing mind-set starts with you--not the company, not the marketplace and not the customers. Your goal is to be market-ready. Tell yourself that. Convey it to the world!

In the spirit of guerrilla marketing, marketing is everything you do or say that your prospects and customers see and hear from you. This includes everyone you meet, every vendor contact, every sign, every point of contact and every communication. A guerrilla marketing mind-set requires thinking about all this all the time.

The marketing mind-set is dedicated to the idea that each person and every activity in a company or organization should be focused daily on the following question: How am I building awareness with my prospects and clients through our marketing? While all employees know what their jobs are, they might not be able to answer this question about their marketing mind-set.

The mind-set starts with you. Running a business is more than manufacturing products or delivering cost-effective services. Nothing happens until something gets sold. But you can't sell a product or service no one knows about. Thinking like a marketer all the time ensures that this never happens

A marketing mind-set isn't just thinking about your brochures, signs, messages or packaging. It is the way you think about how all these activities and other things work together to achieve your marketing goals. It is about tying all your activity to the mission statement of your company or organization. It is about understanding your target market--who will buy from you, and why? It is the measurement of your plan, and it is about relationships with customers and prospects.

Change Your Attitude

Whether it's guerrilla marketing, business or life in general, everyone is guided by a certain set of beliefs. One of those beliefs is that you can find a way to achieve something, get something you want or need, or move from point A to point B according to your desire or plan. Without that belief, you're bobbing on an inner tube in the ocean of life, just waiting for whatever happens to happen, going wherever the tide takes you.

Your beliefs are closely related to your attitudes, to what you say and to what you do. Your attitudes shape where you want to go. For beliefs and attitudes to guide you, you must first start with your mind-set.

Are you born with a mind-set? The answer is no. A mind-set is a reflection of your beliefs and attitudes, a conditioning. The good news is that a mind-set can be learned and developed. So can marketing skills. The first step in acquiring the skills is to develop a sensible attitude toward marketing-an attitude based on your beliefs, because what we believe determines how we behave.

Think about your marketing in the same way you think about paying your bills. You pay them routinely every month without giving them much thought. Your marketing can be compared to your breathing. You can't live very long on just a single breath. It takes many breaths, one right after another. Marketing works the same way: You won't attract new customers or new business with just one marketing initiative. You keep breathing to stay alive; you continue marketing to make more trips to the bank.

A positive attitude helps build enthusiasm and motivates you to create the time to develop new skills and set realistic marketing expectations. Your guerrilla marketing attitude combines optimism with energy so that marketing tasks are handled with enthusiasm and passion.

Develop a Marketing Mind-Set

One simple way to develop more of a marketing mind-set is to look around you. Which signs or billboards catch your eye as you're driving around town? Which radio commercials stick in your head? Which direct-mail pieces do you throw away and which do you keep?

Pay attention to features, headlines, benefits and calls to action. Which ones work, and which ones don't? Paying attention will not only become a habit for you after a while, but it will also be a continual contributor to your ongoing marketing mind-set.

Do a competitive marketing analysis. Who is doing what type of marketing? What seems to be working in your marketplace?

Keeping both your eyes and your mind open is the first step in creating your marketing mind-set. The next step is learning how these no-nonsense techniques and methods can be used in your business. It will become habit, and habit becomes mind-set.

Your marketing mind-set is supported by your focus on customers, on their needs, and on satisfying those needs. This means getting the right products and services to the right customers in the right way at the right value, all while making a profit. Thinking about these issues all the time keeps your marketing mind-set fresh.

So many brochures, websites and salespeople talk about "what we offer," "our features," "what we do," etc. A true marketing mind-set puts you in the customer's shoes. Ask yourself: What's in it for them? How will they benefit? You must develop or shift your mind-set so it's driven by value, a customer focus and a strategic approach.

Define what business you are really in. Are you selling eyeglasses, or are you selling vision? Are you selling drill bits, or are you selling the holes? Are you selling circus tickets, or are you selling thrills?

Develop the attitude that says each and every customer's visit is important both to the customer and to you. Delighting customers is your goal. Put them first. Every day, think of several things you can do to amaze at least one customer.

Continuous learning and improvement is especially important today, with so many changes occurring in marketing. Seek the help of experts, and learn from them. Expand your mind by researching books, websites, seminars and more. Keep a journal of what you learn.

What Works . . . and What Doesn't

As important as understanding how to develop the marketing mind-set is understanding the attitudes that can sabotage your marketing mind-set. Are any of them affecting you?

1. Thinking in terms of "I make a good living" or "I'm comfortable and my numbers are fine." Complacency is your number-one enemy once competition steps in or a market turns. Not having the right marketing mind-set will leave your company in a vulnerable state and a catch-up situation. Many times, action comes too late when there is already too much to recover from.

2. Thinking in terms of "I already lead in my market." Sooner or later, the competition will get stronger. There will be a new competitor in the market, or the technology will change. Some industry factors are beyond your control. Lack of a marketing mind-set will put you at risk from those factors.

3. Thinking in terms of "I concentrate on the financials; marketing belongs to the marketing department." Marketing starts with you, the business owner. Taking on this responsibility requires the right marketing mind-set. Growth and survival cannot happen without marketing, and marketing can't happen without the proper mind-set.

4. Lacking a competitive spirit, not having a killer instinct, and not playing to win. Vince Lombardi famously said that winning isn't everything--it's the only thing. The same goes for marketing. Marketing is not a hobby: It is put in place to win customers and business, and winning customers requires a winning marketing mind-set.

Once you have developed a marketing mind-set, the following steps will help you maintain it:

  • Continue to meet people to build your network.
  • Keep track of whom you meet.
  • Constantly review, audit and evaluate your marketing activities.
  • Have a marketing plan, and use it as a living, working document to guide your marketing activities.

Marketing does not consist of mini-events that happen between orders. It's about always communicating, sharing information and solving problems, all in the spirit of giving. Developing this mind-set will ensure a constant marketing attack and a consistent approach to your markets and customers. A marketing mind-set combines motivation and passion to drive your business's vision forward.

A marketing mind-set means thinking, living and breathing marketing. Many people know what to do, but they spend too much time getting into position to get into position or too much time getting started getting started. Starting and maintaining the right mind-set ensures your success.

The Man Behind the Mind-Set

Cultivating a marketing mind-set in your business isn't just a good idea--it's a necessity, according to marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson, co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days . Levinson weighs in on some key points about developing a marketing mind-set:

How does having a marketing mind-set make a difference?
A marketing mind-set helps you have a realistic perspective of marketing opportunities and realistic expectations of what marketing can and cannot do. Without that mind-set, running your business is like walking through a smoky room--it's hard to see what you're doing. But with a marketing mind-set, things fall into place more easily.

How can a business owner get his or her employees to think more about marketing and recognize opportunities?
The way to get all your employees thinking about marketing is to make a marketing plan. Get your employees to contribute. If they feel involved in the creation of a marketing plan, they feel a sense of participation and will help it come to life.

How can you make sure that the marketing mind-set sticks?
You can't have a wonderful, knock-'em-dead meeting with your people and then think it will "take" from there. Unless you refresh your marketing mind-set on a regular basis through meetings and training, it will die on the vine.

What's the most common mistake companies make when trying to develop a marketing mind-set?
One pitfall is lack of commitment. At the end of the month, they've been doing all the right things, but they don't see any real results and say "Well, maybe we're doing it wrong, so let's start again." If they had waited a couple more months, they may have seen a barnburner of a campaign. Commitment is what really makes marketing work. Mediocre marketing with commitment works better than brilliant marketing without commitment.

Words to Live By

Inspire your commitment to marketing by keeping this Guerrilla Marketing Creed where you can see it and refer to it often:

  • I am committed to marketing. I will always think of my customers' needs and desires first, and shape my business, products and services around them.
  • I will approach my thinking creatively, using my talents and all available resources to develop the best solutions for clients and customers.
  • I will always strive to improve my marketing knowledge, seeking new and innovative ways to develop products and services and ways to communicate with customers and prospects.
  • I will give all my customers and prospects the proper attention all the time. This will be done in a proactive manner, not a reactive one.
  • I will continue to seek out new business opportunities. These include strategic alliances, fusion marketing, joint ventures, cooperation and other partnerships.
  • I will "think marketing" all the time.

Adapted from Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager. Additional information available at www.entrepreneurpress.com .



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