Five essential truths of marketing

June 5, 2013
According to marketing icon, Ted Levitt, the purpose of a business is to get and keep customers.  Getting and keeping customers is marketing.

According to marketing icon, Ted Levitt, the purpose of a business is to get and keep customers.  Getting and keeping customers is marketing. To make your marketing better, pay attention to these five essential truths.

Truth No. 1:  Marketing is a Conversation. Doc Searls and David Weinberger nailed it in the Cluetrain Manifesto… “The first markets were filled with people, not abstractions or statistical aggregates; they were the places where supply met demand with a firm handshake. Buyers and sellers looked each other in the eye, met and connected. The first markets were places for exchange, where people came to buy what others had to sell — and to talk.”

Since medieval times, people would come to the market to buy and sell, and also to interact, to converse, to share the news. Conversation was integrated into the transaction, and not much of it was about the sale. It was news, gossip and weather.

This was the way the world worked until the 20th century. With the advent of mass media, business forgot that marketing was a conversation. Dialogues became monologues. Advertisers had megaphones and shouted at the customer. Marketing research was a substitute for listening.

Advertisers thought the path to success was to shout at consumers, so they did (and many still do).  Lacking the ability to converse, consumers became cynics and skeptics about advertising.  Smart marketers understood this and held implied conversations, even if the conversations were necessarily one-sided.

Conversation is becoming more important today thanks to the Internet’s ability to give everyone a megaphone. Consumers have regained their voices, making it more important than ever to engage and listen to the customer.

Truth No. 2:  You are not the customer. Most contracting companies are run by men. Most residential decision makers are women. They do not listen to sports talk. They do not find butt-crack jokes funny. They are not amused by contractors who paint pictures with the lower half of a man sitting on a toilet on the door of the truck.

It is irrelevant whether you like a form of marketing, a particular television station or a radio station. Only the prospect is relevant and she likes different things than you do. What matters is what works.  Evaluate marketing based on its effectiveness, not your personal preferences.

Truth No. 3:  The customer only cares about herself. Every customer is tuned into WII-FM, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. WII-FM, of course, is “What’s In It For Me.” People care about themselves. They are not interested in your company. They do not care about your problems. They only care about what you can do for them. Your marketing needs to be solely focused on what you can do for the customer, how you can help her, how you can make her life better, and how you can reassure her and ease her concerns.

Truth No. 4:  Nothing works every time or everywhere. Just because a particular marketing initiative works for you today, does not mean it will work for you tomorrow, and vice versa. Just because something works for you, does not mean it will work for another contractor, and vice versa.

While the use of multiple VOIP phone numbers allows marketers the ability to track like never before, it remains impossible to predict effectiveness with certainty. The weather, the news, traffic, and a host of other factors can affect marketing effectiveness in ways that cannot always be known or anticipated. This is why consistency is so important.

Do not try to time the market. Invest in consistent marketing that builds on preceding efforts.  Accept that sometimes marketing will fail for no known reason, but that does not mean the campaign is doomed. Give it time.

Truth No. 5:  Marketing is everything you do. Every interaction with and impression by a prospect and customer represents marketing. Your trucks are marketing. The way you answer the phone is marketing. The condition of your uniforms, the appearance of your website, the quality of your invoices, and the grooming of your plumbers are all marketing. Look at everything you do and everything you display from the customer’s perspective. Make sure it communicates the message you want. Make sure the message is consistent.

Improve your marketing with the Service Roundtable.  It’s contracting’s largest business alliance.  It’s affordable.  It’s full of proven marketing material.  It includes a support network of leading contractors and business consultants.  It even includes a buying group that pays rebates on purchases. Call 877/262-3341 today and ask a Success Consultant for a complementary tour.  Or, visit

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization.

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