Good marketing

Marketing is a lot of things. Sometimes, it can be about promoting your business or product. That’s the advertising part. But that should not represent a big part of your focus as a marketer. Most of the time, marketing is about figuring out what people need, and how to build and deliver that at a reasonable price, so you stay in business and people get value from whatever you offer. That part is much less fun because it requires much more empathy and humbleness than the other part.

Charles Schwab, the discount-investing giant, has been focusing that part of marketing in past decade to turn around its business. You can read all about it in this great Bloomberg profile.

Here are two quotes that stand out from the article:

“We will survive if we do the right thing for people,” Schwab says. “We will collapse if we ever deviate from that mission.”
The company, he says, operates essentially by the “do unto others” Golden Rule. He tells you about a “virtuous cycle.” Lure new clients with low fees and easy-to-use services. Strong financial results and shareholder value follow. Repeat.
He recalls a board meeting at which he joined Schwab to pitch the turnaround strategy. “The board said, ‘We’ve just lost 40 percent of revenue, and now you’re suggesting we give up 15 or 20 percent. How are we going to make it up?’ ” Bettinger recalls. “We said, ‘The goodness of human nature.’ We sit here 14 years later with evidence that that’s exactly what works.”

I know this sounds like a lot of corporate cool aid. It might be. But it’s a good reminder to simply focus on your clients, and build around their needs and frustrations. You’re smart. But not to the point of being able to read into people’s mind. Get out of the office, talk to people who buy your stuff, and find ways to make your stuff even better. It’s not that complicated.