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The Ten Commandments of Marketing Yourself, Your Product or Your Services

I’ll start off with a somewhat controversial declaration: Marketing Rules! Okay, maybe it’s not that controversial. What I mean by that is business is all about marketing when you break it down to the basics. Therefore, successful business is all about successful execution of the company’s marketing function. Don’t believe me? I can swap stories with you that illustrate millions of dollars of lost value for companies that have struggled with the marketing function.

A company can have strong financial managers and accountants, but without customers, for what will they account? Without revenues, what will your IT staff have to maintain? The same questions can be asked of the operations, legal and many executive functions. At the end of the day, a company is successful because it has customers that pay. Without customers, the projections crafted by your CFO and sold by your CEO mean nothing.

Before we launch into the list of marketing commandments, let’s define marketing.

In my view, the easiest way to define marketing is as everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers. To more easily remember these concepts, marketing is often described as The Four P’s:

• Product (the solution being sold)

• Placement (sales and distribution channels)

• Promotion (finding new prospects and compelling them to become customers)

• Price (pricing and positioning strategy)

In this way, marketing encompasses a number of important activities such as public and community relations, brand management, media planning and advertising, product development and positioning, pricing schemes, sales and distribution strategies and much more. It is important that your company agrees on a definition of marketing. If you don’t, you’ll find that many necessary jobs will go unattended to and many roles unfilled.

Now that we’ve defined marketing, let’s review some guidelines that I believe can help you market your services more successfully. I recently joined LifeCoach Erika Jackson of Turnaround Coaching to talk about several of these. Here's my interview! LISTEN HERE

1. Thou shalt care -

The first rule is to care about meeting people’s needs. People don’t spend money to buy products. People spend money to alleviate a pain or avoid the likelihood of a painful situation. You have to care about that. This is the first and greatest commandment of marketing.

2. Thou shalt have a plan -

Write a marketing plan. Effective marketing campaigns just don’t happen. They are the result of diligent efforts from dedicated marketers.

3. (Unless You are Wal-mart or Dell) Thou shalt not compete on price -

By definition, there can be only one low-cost provider in any market. Therefore, if you can’t be that #1 provider, you are going to have to develop a new niche in which to be #1 and compete on something other than price. If you are the leader and can afford to compete on price, great! If not, play a different game.

4. Thou shalt practice integrated marketing communications -

Advertising is not marketing. Neither are public relations, community relations and direct sales. However, altogether, they each make up a critical part of a comprehensive marketing program. Smart marketers use an integrated approach.

5. Thou shalt execute your plan relentlessly -

Plans aren’t made for your bookshelf. After you write them, use them. Refuse to be a lazy marketer. Refer back to your plans from time to time to make sure that you are still on track.

6. Thou shalt not be boring -

the biggest risk is to take no risk at all. Some people consider this to be the greatest commandment of marketing.

7. Thou shalt not be cheap -

While marketing campaigns don’t always have to be expensive, sometimes you have to spend money. There is an old saying that goes like this: If you don’t advertise, nothing happens. I have learned the hard way just how true this is.

8. Thou shalt measure your efforts -

John Wanamaker said: “I know half of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” A century later Al Ries said: “If half of John Wanamaker’s budget was wasted at the turn of the century, then three-fourths of the typical advertising budget is wasted today.” Invest time in figuring out how well your money performs when used in various ways.

9. Thou shalt know your customer -

You never know your customers as well as you think you do. You have to know who is buying your service. This might be a very different person from whom you are targeting. Your past experiences, while valuable, do not tell you everything that you need to know and are no substitute for thorough market research.

10. Thou shalt always interact with real customers -

How many marketing plans are devised in conference rooms by people who haven’t seen nor spoken to a “real” customer in years, if ever? Too many! Successful marketing is magical. Compelling people to part with their most precious resources (their time and their money) and give them to you is hard work. The successful marketer doesn’t get nearly enough respect, in my opinion, for accurately identifying a market need, developing a solution to fill it and effectively communicating the solution. I have not known a good marketing professional who didn’t spend time in the field with customers at least some of the time.

These are my commandments. I find that things work better when I make sure that my teams obey them. When we don’t, I am convinced that we pay a great price, even when we don’t realize it. What are your commandments for successful marketing? Write me. Let me know and I’ll share feedback from our readers in the future!

A final note: every job requires dealing with people. Everything is sales. Even if you’re a teacher, you have to sell the school district on hiring you or you’ll remain unemployed. If you run a non-profit, you have to sell people on donating to your cause. Again, to my teachers, excellence in your job involves selling young people on why they need to do their best with the selected material. If you’re a minister, you have to sell people on Christ or to your point of view. Even if they buy your point of view, you still need to sell them on the idea of supporting you financially. Everything is sales.

Get used to it so you can begin to excel in it.

You can begin to sell like a monster, too! Order my eBook "10 Ultimate No B.S. #MonsterTips to Help You Sell More and Earn More NOW!" and you're on your way!

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Mark Anthony McCray is a Regional Manager for Rising Point Solutions, the leading Credit Restoration company in Texas as well as the Founder of "Live Big, Die Empty" a movement designed to help people live life more abundantly and walk in the purposes for which they were created. Write mark@livebigdieempty.com for more information and follow Mark on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LiveBigDieEmpty


The Nine Most Powerful Words You Can Say

"Where do you feel like you are right now?"

When you are working with a new prospect or just following up on a lead, once you have let them talk and tell you all about the deal or their situation, ask them this question.

It might seem redundant - like they just finished telling you the answer to this question - but I assure you you'll get more from asking this question than just more details about the loan request. When you ask someone where they feel they are, they will start to share more of their hurts, pains and frustrations -- leading you that much closer to getting their business.

"Where do you feel like you are right now?"

When you ask it directly (and sympathetically), the responses you get will lay out the path towards winning your prospect's trust and transform them into a client. By asking them their perspective, you've changed from a salesperson to a business partner, moving from across the table, figuratively speaking, to a seat next to them.

Bonus: When people say that they are frustrated with what they have been hearing from other service providers or don't like how they've been treated, the best question is the most direct. Your reply should be along the lines of this: "What exactly have the other lenders said that you haven't liked?" or "What is the other web designer telling you that doesn't make you comfortable?"

Does it sound like you're trying to angle to get their business? Of course it does! YOU ARE!

...and they will appreciate the direct approach more than you might think.


Overcoming Depression and Isolation

Holiday celebrations, and preparations are coming right up. This might be a tough year for many of us. Hopefully this will help someone.

Coming out of a major heartbreak, I met with a counselor who helped me see the signs of Depression in my life at that time. I thought I was strong and could "power through" all of my problems. I didn't do very well with that method. If you're dealing with depression and stagnation, my advice is as follows:

(1) Pray. I believe God is there for you. He was for me. Sometimes you won't even have the words to pray. Ask someone with some spiritual maturity to pray for you and then with you.

(2) Find a good counselor - I am not a counselor...just sharing some of what I learned. Get some help. Deborah Giles is great. Thaddeus Eastland is superb. You can reach them at
http://www.harvestofpraiseexalted.org/contact.htm. They can help you make decisions regarding methods, approaches, therapies and medications - if needed.

(3) Take at least one decisive action towards changing the thing that you feel is out of your control - it's not. I am told that the onset of depression often comes from staying too long in a state of cognitive dissonance - failing to act in accordance with your own values for a prolonged period of time. Do something. It will help. Sitting there feeling like you are stuck won't help at all.

(4) Change the voices speaking to you by finding some positive, hopeful and encouraging influences. There's nothing wrong with seeking encouragement until you're able to stand on your own again. It might be pride that keeps you isolated. You might have to cancel some influences.

(5) Change what you say to YOURSELF. Declare your desires out loud. You have to change your confession because your voice means more to you than any other. Simply saying "It's going to get better soon." is much more powerful than repeating to yourself only the worst possible outcomes.

(6) Pray.

If certain statistics can be believed, 20% of all people are dealing with either depression or an undiagnosed mental disturbance every single day.

I believe that one of the enemy's main weapons is isolation followed closely by giving you the impression that you're the only one struggling with the issue. We all suffer and everything we go through is common to all people.

(Forgive me for mashing two scriptures together - I try to be conversational instead of preachy sometimes.)

In any regard, you're not alone. Let's destroy that lie right now.

~~ OK. Preachy-time.

A lot of the problems in our society come from people who are hurting and either don't know it or won't acknowledge it. We hurt other people and destroy ourselves while trying to find ways to dull our pain using our numbing agents of choice.

I DO NOT believe this is the plan of God.

If we would just talk to someone who is spiritually mature and trustworthy and have them pray with us we would experience some healing. If we read James 5 in proper context, it teaches that there is healing in confession to one another coupled with prayer.

My encouragement to all of us is to talk to someone honestly about our feelings and challenges...then pray. That's a good start.