I am currently doing a course through one of the top marketing professors in the world. You can read more about Professor Mark Ritson and his superb mini-MBA programme in Marketing here. I won’t be overstating it if I say it is an eye opener. It has also been quite a reality check!

Professor Ritson does not mince his words and his articles are littered with colourful language. But more than anything, he calls a spade, a spade:

Like that Marketers should accept that they are the least important people in the room. And that as a Marketer, your job is straightforward – to help the company make more money! Neither of these fall on easy ears.

Needless to say, Professor Ritson stays far away from the overheated debates about Social Media, SEO, Adwords, Websites and the latest promotional tools on Facebook. These tactical tools are neither here nor there if the groundwork hasn’t been done. The marketing fundamentals!

But what is the groundwork?

In my view smaller entrepreneurial companies need to take a different approach to larger corporates because different things drive them forward!

The first runs on energy, ideas and passion, the second on concepts, targets and budgets. For the first you try to control a raging fire, namely a business owner wanting to try every trick in the book; for the second you try to light a fire under people’s rear-ends. Chaos versus control.

This difference also impacts the approach to marketing. The groundwork for a Corporate is always a large research project in which the market is mapped out qualitatively, then quantitatively. Based on these numbers some hard decisions can be taken. But what is “marketing ground zero” for a small business? Clearly it can’t be a R500k research project.

The answer in my opinion is to combine three things: substance, size and speed.

  • Substance is about doing the right stuff, in the right order. You can’t do marketing without certain basics in place. No matter what size your business is, you need a target market, a brand position and a communication plan.
  • Size, which has to do with where you aim. In simple terms – aim small! Big companies can do big research, big advertising, using big money. Small companies need to do the opposite. You need to define your goals tighter, brief your advertising partners smarter, and generally focus your efforts better.
  • Speed, which I have discussed before in this post, requiring smaller companies to go faster. Much faster! Big companies do things over months; small companies need to do it over weeks. Big companies plan for a year. You need to plan for a quarter. Monthly meetings must be replaced by daily contact and weekly reviews.

Marketing is not a short term gamble with creative tools. That’s advertising. When done correctly Marketing is a powerful strategic tool to support (not lead) the business to greater profits.

Are you doing Marketing correctly?