Monday, June 18, 2007

Holistic Marketing: look at the whole picture

There are a TON of marketing ideas out there. More of them crop up every single day, and every single one of them will work for somebody, somewhere. But should you hop on every last thing just because it's hot? Do you REALLY NEED a viral marketing campaign with some goofball doing something ridiculous in the name of your company? Do you really need a blog, or an e-zine, or a web forum, etc.?

I'll tell you a secret: you don't need ALL of it. What you NEED is to do some soul-searching and find out what will actually WORK for you. This is what I call holistic marketing; it's looking at the whole picture of your business, and of you as a business owner or marketing manager. By doing some of that internal work before jumping on the next hot marketing trend, you can save yourself some serious time and money.

When it comes down to it, there is no single marketing "magic bullet." In order to really get the marketing thing down, you have to come at it from different angles, and you need to spend time really looking at yourself, your business, and your capabilities to determine what those specific angles should be.

For example, when I started the zen kitchen, I knew certain things about myself, and about the business I wanted to create:

  1. I didn't want to spend a ton of money on marketing (since seriously, I didn't have a lot of money, and I have the added advantage of actually BEING able to do my own design work)

  2. I REALLY didn't want to spend a lot of money on direct mail pieces that were just going to get trashed anyway; although I do a couple of key mailers (for example, holiday cards), regular direct mail pieces involve too many resources for too little return in my line of work

  3. I really love talking to people, I'm not remotely shy, and I love writing.

  4. I spend entirely too much time on the Internet.

Given all these things, it was important to do as much of my marketing online and in-person as possible. So now my "marketing mix" (I actually prefer the word "toolkit" myself) includes regular mentions, listings and articles on various sites, networking with local businesses, being generally helpful on forums and listservs, this blog (of course!) and my newsletter, along with keeping thoughtful contact with folks in my network, and a yearly holiday card. And all of these have gotten me as much business as I can handle - and I never know where clients will come from. I now have an equal balance of people calling me based on my various online appearances and people that I connect with personally and keep in touch with.

Now, is this what you should do for your business? It could be. But if, for example, you're insanely busy with all that you're doing already and your hair is ready to fall out, you might not be ready to go as hard-core online as I have. And if you hate to write, you're not going to be motivated to keep up a blog. And in certain industries with certain businesses, other, more traditional marketing activities might work better - some businesses, for example, do actually really need printed brochures. Others (for example mine) really don't.

The point is to do some thinking while you create your overall marketing picture:
  • What do I actually enjoy doing? Can I build any of that into my marketing?

  • if I am looking at all of these lovely online opportunities, who do they seem to work for? Does it look like something that would work for my business? Are there any other businesses like mine doing the same thing?

  • Do I really have the time/energy to devote to this?

  • Is this something that I'll enjoy doing? This is especially important for online marketing efforts; blogs, for example, take a while to get really going and working for you, and you have to commit to it.

Happy marketing!

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