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Great Marketing is More Than Just Profit vs Cost: It's About Education
December 29th, 2015
Marketing is often mistakenly thought of as "just another kind of advertising" - in other words, another way to say "buy my stuff" - This is a misnomer - Often, an expensive one, when a business owner dismisses it as such. Marketing is also defined as the process of getting a product from concept to consumer - including advertising, product research, placement and so on.
While one cannot dismiss the importance of each of these elements, I have to point out a much under-utilized - even realized - function of marketing: Education.
Not only does a marketer have to tell potential customers why their product or service fits their needs and wants - but a good marketer - heck, a great marketer will also help people realize that they have a need for their product or service.
I regularly follow the blogs and postings of an excellent transportation management company, Cerasis. (www.cerasis.com) - They're a great example of educating potential customers of why their products and services are top notch in their industry - and they're not wrong (believe me: That helps!) - My 'flash', so to speak, wasn't about how they save their customers time or money (they do - in spades) - it wasn't about increasing efficiency and reducing wastage (they do that too) - My thought about the Cerasis transporation management system is about the hidden benefits - the ones not often talked about, but which often reap very tangible benefits that are often hard to quantify on a spread sheet or show in a graph in the quarterly earnings report:
It's about employee morale and satisfaction.
Think about this, for a moment - no matter which industry you happen to be in. How often have you been frustrated, witnessing - or worse - being a part of an inefficient system, multiply redundant and unnecessary steps or simply hours upon hours, over the work year, waiting for others to get their work done so that you may begin yours ?
This is where, in this example, Cerasis comes in: A truly excellent transportation and freight management system reduces waste. It reduces inefficiency. It reduces dead hours - both in the warehouse AND on the road. Don't get me wrong; This really and truly is great for the bottom line, for the profit margins and for the shareholders - But there is another beneficiary: The employee or contractor driving the tractor-trailer who now spends less time waiting in the receiving yard, waiting for a loading dock, or dead-heading back to home base, hundreds of miles without a load in the back. It's men and women in the warehouse who are actually working during their shifts, because the stock has suddenly been organized in the order in which it is to leave the warehouse AND the trucks show up in that same order.
Never underestimate the value of a happy employee. Sure, higher wages and more health benefits can add to that happiness, but the one constant, the one thing that is always in effect is employee satisfaction (after all - it takes years to see the benefit from employer-contributed 401Ks and you (hopefully) aren't actually using the benefit of a lower co-pay to your HMO on a daily basis); An employee - and contractor - who knows their work is valued, efficient and makes a difference is an entirely different type of person who punches the clock in the morning and looks forward to nothing other than punching it again at the end of the day - And this, my friends, is where a transportation and freight management system can literally make a company-wide difference in a manner that is different - and to some - more valuable than - the bottom line.
It is literally a salable benefit that the company owner can make to the employees: "Thanks to this new freight management system, you will be working smarter, more efficiently and with less effort - not harder. With greater customer satisfaction - with greater profits - with greater efficiency - it means, without beating around the bush - that when you (or your union rep) comes to us to ask for a wage or benefit increase, it is suddenly a lot easier to smile and agree with a "You're right - let's sit down and talk about how much" - without ever even arguing the point of "should we in the first place" (It doesn't take a HR degree to realize that a truly happy employee making $20 or $30 an hour will provide orders of magnitude more production than an unhappy employee making $12 an hour and looking for ways to avoid work)
This isn't a wage commentary article - The above is but one example of the benefits outside of simple profit vs cost. And that's where truly good marketing comes in: It's about educating your customers about all the benefits to your product or service.-Marc Bissonnette
December 29th, 2015