A business owner reaches out to a marketer and they get together for a cup of coffee. A clash of different worlds really.

The reason for this meeting is usually the owner who has come to the difficult realisation that he now needs to take marketing seriously. They can’t anymore hide from the fact that the competition is looking better; that word of mouth marketing won’t result in higher growth; that everyone else is taking marketing seriously.

It is a checkmate situation for any cash-strapped entrepreneur.

The marketing meeting that follows takes on a familiar format with the owner dictating terms:

  • “I need a new logo”

  • “I want to update my website”

  • “I need to be on Facebook”

The marketer gladly responds, usually in the affirmative. “Yes, I would modernise that logo….your website can definitely be improved…time to take social media serious…” A good meeting, until the difficult topic of money comes up.

What is wrong with this scenario?

The issue is a matter of perspective. The marketing problem is viewed through the eyes of the owner and marketer, but they are not the most important people in the equation.

You see, it is not about the business owner’s preconceived ideas of what he wants, nor the marketers opinion on what she thinks. All of this is mostly irrelevant. What matters most is what the customer wants.

Marketing is not an inside out science. It is not about what you, the owner, or they, the marketers, think will appeal to the customer. Rather it should be outside in focused, namely who is the customer; what do they want to see; what will get them to take action, and ultimately how much should you pay to do this type of marketing.

Here is some marketing planning advice to entrepreneurs: for your next coffee chat with a marketer, remember there is a third person in the room, the customer. Intelligent marketing discussions veer away from superficial views on seemingly important topics such as logos, colours, websites, social media and fights over budgets. Rather it focuses on the crucial topic of exploring the customer.

This is what makes marketing so tremendously powerful in a business. It forces an outside in view like no other functional area.

Next time you invite a marketer over for coffee, make sure that you keep a seat open for that invisible third person in the room. The customer.

Image credit: Flickr