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What is Marketing?

The very best marketers do just four things...

In my experience as Marketing VP at Oracle, and at Harvard Business School, I developed Dave's Definition of Marketing. This is what the very best marketers do, just these four things:

  1. Keep trying new things.
  2. Measure the effectiveness of everything you do.
  3. When something you do works, then do more of it.
  4. When something you do doesn't work, then do less of it.
Again and again, we think (we know!) that we have brilliant marketing strategies, but the marketplace tells us that they're not as good as we think. Now and again, we hit a winner and find a technique that helps.

When the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers started selling in the US, they had big cycles, competing with Harleys, that they tried to sell. The dealers weren't interested in something that was as big as a Harley but lacked the Hog's reputation. However, the manufacturer's reps rode to the dealers on some small cycles, that were built for the domestic Japanese market, that weren't sold in the US. One day, one of the dealers, telling the reps that he didn't want their big bikes, told them that he would like to sell the small bikes they had ridden to his store!

Fortunately for the manufacturers, they were flexible enough to agree to sell the small bikes, and the Japanese cycle business in the US began. Over time, they introduced larger bikes to expand the product line, and gradually worked their way up to selling bikes the size of Harleys, which they do today. In this case, we can see that the manufacturer's reps followed all four rules, although not by plan. First, they were trying new things, bringing Japanese bikes to the US. However, they weren't selling the big bikes, but discovered that they could sell the small bikes. Applying rules 3 and 4, then, they went after the small bikes and gave up on the big bikes, establishing a whole new business.

What does that mean to us on the Web? Those same four rules apply to every marketing medium. So on the Web, we need to keep trying new ideas. Critically important, we need to measure how well they work. The most important measurements are made using the site log, which captures a lot of information about what each visitor on the site does and how they got to the site. The best product I've found for that purpose at a reasonable price is ClickTracks. With all of your measurements of user behavior on the site, then you can find out which great ideas are truly great and which are merely great theories.

Finally, be sure to apply rules 3 and 4. Many organizations, faced with data about what works and what doesn't work, fail to take than next step and stop spending money on things that don't work. If you are brutal about cutting off what doesn't work, then you will have the money you need to keep funding the marketing approaches that do work for you.

The Bottom Line: There is nothing fixed in marketing. Keep measuring the effectiveness of your marketing, and keep adjusting your strategies to emphasize what works and de-emphasize what doesn't work.


Dave Roberts provides expert Web marketing services to help you meet your business goals. Visit his Web site at: DaveDoesItAll.com

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