Marketing Above the Noise

"It’s time to move the discussion away from today’s latest hot marketing tools and tactics to what really counts: convincing customers to trust you with their business—not just once, but time and time again."

- Marketing Above the Noise, page xviii

Living in a digital world has created the expectation of immediate response. While it might be tempting to rely on new tools and “real time” tactics, Marketing Above The Noise offers a refreshing reality check about what really drives successful initiatives. Author Linda J. Popky gives in-depth explanation of the timeless and tool-agnostic driving forces of marketing and provides actionable tips and case studies that show how being mindful of these factors (or ignoring them) can dramatically alter the results of your marketing efforts.

The Golden Egg

Golden Egg: The biggest takeaway from the book

Same as it ever was

"The delivery mechanisms change; the basic marketing concepts behind them don’t."
- Marketing Above the Noise, page 48

Much of the first portion of the book is dedicated to providing in-depth details about each of eight dynamic market leverage factors, or “timeless marketing truths,” that should guide every marketing effort. If these factors seem basic, it’s because they are. No matter the specific tools and tactics you use to activate your marketing efforts, these eight factors need to be acknowledged, understood and carefully considered for a campaign to succeed:

  • Products – At the base of every marketing effort is the actual thing being marketed. Whether it is a physical product, a service or a point of view. Take a critical look at your product to ensure that it’s up to snuff.
  • Customers – Even the best product in the world is only as useful as its customer deems it to be, so your customers’ desires, needs, habits, lifestyle, challenges, questions and concerns should be a key consideration in any marketing efforts.
  • Market – A sound knowledge of the market for your product is essential to establishing and maintaining (or changing) your place in it.
  • Brand – Your reputation can help you or hurt you, and it exists whether you choose to manage it or not. Develop a brand promise based on your company values and mission, and be sure that you keep the promises you’re making to keep your brand intact.
  • Sales – Ensure that the individuals representing your brand in the marketplace have been provided with the knowledge and resources to properly represent that brand out in the market, and engage with them early and often to make the most of their experiences in that market.
  • Communication – Companies need to know how to effectively communicate the value they provide. There are a lot of ways to do this, and there may not be one “right” way, but communication is key.
  • Operation – Growth isn’t possible without reflection, and reflection isn’t possible without details to reflect on. Establish means of delivering, tracking and analyzing your marketing activities so you can improve.
  • Strategy – All of these elements should inform your strategy, not only for your marketing but for your business as a whole.

These factors should be viewed as essential and interdependent, and it’s important to recognize their influence on one another when developing a marketing strategy. Consider the value your sales staff could bring to a product conversation with their intimate knowledge of your customer base. Customer feedback and perception becomes a part of your brand, and can influence the way you create products, sell those products, and communicate your message. Understanding the interplay of these eight factors and letting that interplay inform your strategy is the key to marketing successfully, digitally or otherwise.

Gem #1

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

The Customer Conversation

"The era when marketers could talk at customers has long passed."
- Marketing Above the Noise, page 44

Web commenting, email and social media have made it so that customers are finally getting to respond to messages that marketers are putting out. And online conversations have many of the same dynamics as in-person conversations, including the desire for a speaker to feel heard. Popky lays out an easy three-step process to help marketers keep up their end of the conversational promise:

  1. Acknowledge that the feedback has been received.”
  2. Accept that there is valuable input and information in the feedback (whether you agree with the input or not).”
  3. “Articulate your next steps now that you’ve received this input (and share it with others in the organization, research the issues more deeply, make changes to a process or procedure, etc.)”

Gem #2

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

Singing the Same Song

"So sales thinks marketing just wants them to execute against a marketing plan that marketing insists sales should follow. While marketing thinks sales just wants them to execute against a set of deliverables that sales has demanded from marketing. See the patent here?"
- Marketing Above the Noise, page 105

A common struggle, especially in large organizations, is what Popky calls a “sibling rivalry” between sales and marketing. Because both the sales staff and the marketing staff will be evaluated based on the results that come from shared decisions, each feels compelled to assert their take on the issue at hand, which can result in tensions. To ensure the best possible outcome, both teams needs to share their value and also feel valued, so Popky advises an “exchange system” to promote optimal collaboration.

By allowing marketing folks to sit in on sales meetings or calls, they can gain perspective on the client-facing experience and come back with a new understanding of what customers want. When sales folks embed with the marketing team, they can better appreciate the various factors that go into creating marketing initiatives. In both instances, the “host” department will feel valued and appreciated for being recognized as a vital part of the process.

At the close of the book, Popky tells readers not to worry if their marketing efforts aren’t quite up to snuff just yet: In 2013, a Marketing2020 study showed that most organizations have not yet been able to pull off all of the key things mentioned in the book. But awareness and mindfulness is key to getting there, so Popky invites readers to take the online assessment to evaluate your organization’s status on the eight Dynamic Market Leverage Factors.

Which of the eight “timeless marketing truths” do you think gets lost most often as marketing rush into activation in the digital age?

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Melanie Deziel

ABOUT Melanie Deziel

Melanie's grandfather calls himself a "jack of all trades, and master of most," and she's hoping to carry on the family tradition. She has a background in journalism, and experience in native advertising, social media strategy and content marketing...
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