With the beginning of each new year comes a new set of business objectives. These likely include increasing revenue and “improving our visibility in the market,” or, “more effectively communicating the meaning and value of our brand” to certain market segments or potential customers. What we’re describing with all of these statements is, in a word, marketing.
According to the father of modern management, Peter Drucker, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Creating a customer looks very different across products, industries, and markets. In the grocery business, it’s causing a customer to make an impulse buy of gum or batteries at the checkout line. In our business, it’s having a relationship with someone who knows and trusts that we will take care of people and their damaged property, restoring them to pre-loss condition in a timely and efficient manner.
At its heart, marketing is about understanding people. It’s about determining what customers want. Even though it may be tempting to think of markets as virtual entities, it’s important to remember that, even in the business-to-business world, every product and service is purchased by a human being. Another painfully honest truth to remember is that, contrary to today’s popular feel-good wisdom, in business, winning is everything. Every transaction or opportunity has one seller and one buyer. When you get it right, your company and the customer both win. All of the other would-be sellers lose. The real world is brutally competitive, and good marketing is vital to staying ahead.
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