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updated 5/11/2012 11:29:06 AM ET 2012-05-11T15:29:06

A lot of marketing theory confuses people because it’s more complicated than it has to be. While wondrous new technologies can help you in your mission of raising your profits, marketers don’t let those technologies blur that mission. Keeping it simple is a powerful competitive advantage when it comes to speed and profitability.

The seller is happy when the buyer is happy. So make as many buyers happy as you can. That requires quality and service, but that’s why you’re here -- and it’s not complicated.

The entire process is made up of five broad strokes. Take those strokes and add as many bells, whistles, systems, technologies, apps and economic doodads as you want -- but be sure that all five broad strokes are taken. Do that and you’ll never think that marketing has to be anything that Simple Simon couldn’t handle with his right hand tied behind him.

1. Listen to find a problem you can solve. The first broad stroke doesn’t require any of your hands -- only your ears. The first broad stroke is your ability to listen. Be alert for problems. Be alert in social situations and the social media. Be alert in the attention you pay to the mass media. Are people talking about problems they have, problems that need solving? 

Zero in on the problems that don’t yet have solutions. Pick a problem that you can solve. That’s how you respond to opportunity.

Related: How to Make Your Marketing Work Together

2. Pricing the solution. The second broad stroke is determining how much it will cost you to solve that problem. Maybe you can solve it with information and with service. If not, how much will it cost you to make it or buy it? Be very careful with this step, as with all the broad strokes, to overlook nothing. Broad strokes tend to magnify errors, so you don’t want to make even the most minor mistake.

3. Marketing. When you tally the costs of producing your offering, don’t overlook the costs of marketing it. And don’t overlook the necessity to market it.

If you build a better mousetrap, the world won’t beat a path to your door unless they know about that mousetrap. They learn about it from your marketing, especially if it’s marketing.

If you’ve come up with a truly nifty solution, the marketing for it will catch wind and fan out to others who have long been searching for a solution. It’s nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you market.

It is now well understood why people patronize the businesses that they do. It’s known that they favor products and services that they trust, a human characteristic that has given rise to a phenomenon called “branding.” Branding helps people trust you. One of the jobs of a marketer is to convince customers to trust his or her offering.

Of course, quality is one of the factors that earn trust. And that’s why it’s part of the third broad stroke. Another factor that gains gobs of trust -- and gives the little guy an edge over the big guy -- is the ability to service what he sells. Don’t forget that one of your sacred goals is make your customers happy. Terrific service does just that.

4. Service what you sell. Terrific service is not necessarily free for you to provide. And yes, it does require effort. In particular, it requires a person who wants to deliver it and doesn’t do it just because he’s supposed to.

Factor in the cost of service right along with the cost of marketing and cost of goods.

Related: 5 Ways to Build a Solid Email Marketing List

5. Earn profits. The fifth broad stroke is what marketing should be all about. Not sales. Not store traffic. Not turnover. Not responses to an offer. Not hits to a website. Not awards. Not sales records. Not any metric you can name. That fifth broad stroke is profits, what’s left over after you’ve deducted the cost of everything else in your business. No matter how glowing the other numbers in your business may be, it’s the profits that should glow, that keep you in business, that enable you to grow your business, that attract investors, that entice buyers of companies, and that ought to be the prime reason you went into business.

It’s your job to grow healthy profits every year. You owe that to yourself, your employees, your family, and your future. That’s why profits best reflect your success. Profits are elusive. Profits are honest. Profits are hard-earned. But profits are not complicated.

They are the fifth of the five broad strokes of success, and they are crucial to your company’s health. But earning them is not a winding road. Instead it is a straight road, possibly uphill, but always leading to exactly where you envision going. 

Related: 5 Easy Steps to Measure Social Media Campaigns

 

This article is an excerpt from  The Best of Guerrilla Marketing -- Guerrilla Marketing Remix (Entrepreneur Press, 2011) by Jay Conrad and Jeannie Levinson.

This article originally posted on Entrepreneur.com

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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