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Marketing 101: Everything you need to know

Marketing 101: Everything you need to know

If you’ve found your way to our blog chances are you work in marketing or you want some help with your marketing. But whether you’re an experienced marketer or a rookie we hope you’ll find something useful in this post.

This is our marketing 101 – an introduction to marketing. We’ve got a lot to cover so here’s a quick summary of what you’ll find if you keep reading:

CHAPTER ONE: A brief history of marketing

Okay, let’s not get carried away. We’re not starting with sponsored cave paintings. But we’ll take a look at some of the principles of marketing and how marketing has changed over the past 20 years.

CHAPTER TWO: Building a marketing team

Next we’ll get into the different skills you’ll want access to in order to run effective marketing campaigns. To make this a little more interesting we’ve staffed your marketing department from the cast of the Avengers. We’ll also look at in-house versus outsourcing. And we’ll highlight some of the bear traps to avoid when working with third parties.

CHAPTER THREE: Marketing tactics and strategies

The third and final section will take a whistlestop tour through the most popular marketing tactics and strategies. We’ll cover content creation, SEO, social media marketing and email. And also run through the different challenges and opportunities at each stage of the marketing funnel.

“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.” Mark Twain

CHAPTER ONE: A brief history of marketing

It’s hard to imagine a marketing campaign today that doesn’t involve one or both of Google and Facebook. Marketing though is as old as the hills. But we’ll save the marketing trends of ancient Rome for another blog post. Here we’ll stick to the more recent history.

First, let’s define what we mean by marketing. The Oxford English Dictionary defines marketing like this:

“The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

HubSpot, the marketing automation platform, has a more in-depth definition, which we prefer:

“Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company’s product or service. This happens through market research, analysis, and understanding your ideal customer’s interests. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.”

And if you didn’t like either of those, here are no fewer than 72 definitions of marketing. Something for everyone in there.

Like David Packard (the “P” in HP) said: “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”. It’s not a bolt-on or an after-throught. At least, it shouldn’t be. Marketing is something that should be woven into the fabric of an organisation.

Philip Kotler, regarded by many as the father of modern marketing, describes marketing as “the art of creating genuine customer value”. Professor Kotler has published close to 60 books on marketing since the 1970s. Something he’s written and spoken about extensively is the different marketing orientations that have captured the attention of marketers and business leaders over the years. As this is the history chapter let’s dive into that.

Marketing philosophies, concepts and orientations

There are a whole bunch of models and frameworks for analysing different approaches to marketing through the decades. We’re going with a popular one: the five marketing concepts as set out by Graeme Drummond and John Ensor (descriptions are our own):

  • The Production Concept: This stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap approach emerged during the industrial revolution. The idea is that supply creates its own demand. Companies should focus on scale and efficiency, because what consumers want is easily-available, affordable products. The priority for marketing is raising awareness. There is still plenty of evidence of this approach in practice today.
  • The Product Concept: This one is in many ways a reaction to the Production Concept. Rather than price and availability the focus here is quality. Companies build their strategy and marketing campaigns around their product’s quality, performance and features.
  • The Selling Concept: We could sum up this one as: “churn and burn”. The idea is to aggressively chase down every deal and prioritise short-term sales numbers over everything else.
  • The Marketing Concept: This orientation treats the customers a little less like sheep and instead puts them at the heart of the strategy. The Marketing Concept is about understanding what the customer wants. And then creating a marketing plan that speaks to those needs more effectively than your competition. 
  • The Societal Concept: This final orientation builds on the Marketing Concept. The needs of the customer are still paramount. But it also considers the wider impact of the organisation’s activities on the environment, community and natural resources.

Marketing in the digital age

You don’t have to work in marketing to be aware that the internet has been a huge disruptor in the marketing space. The internet has changed how people work, shop, entertain themselves and interact with one another. No industry has escaped the internet’s winds of change, but few have felt them as keenly as marketing.

Let’s take a look at where marketing dollars have been doing over the past 20 years. Back in 1999, we were all worrying about the Millennium Bug, the Backstreet Boys were number one and “The Matrix” had just come out. Marketing looked very different.

Fewer than 300 million people had access to the internet. As a result, television, print and outdoor advertising gobbled up the lion’s share of marketing budgets.

Fast forward to 2019 and we still have the Backstreet Boys. But the global internet population has exploded to 4.3 billion, according to Internet World Stats. This is what happened to ad spend over that period, courtesy of Zenith Media, an ad agency.

Zenith Media Ad Spend Data

You can see that online ads have now eclipsed other channels. Outdoor was the first to go in 2005, followed a year later by radio. Print, which has lost the most market share to digital, went in 2013. Television spend has been growing, driven by a renaissance in content quality. But even that was overtaken by online spend in 2016. Zenith predicts that 2019 internet ad spend will top USD $274 billion.

But these headline numbers don’t tell the real story. This is really about the two companies we mentioned in our introduction. Two companies the Backstreet Boys wouldn’t even have heard of when they were working on the lyrics to “I Want It That Way”.

Facebook first. Last year, the world’s largest social media network made USD $55 billion from advertising. That’s around a fifth of global online ad spend, but really it’s small potatoes. According to its parent company, Alphabet, our favourite search engine, Google, raked in more than USD $116 billion in 2018 from its ad products.

CHAPTER TWO: Building a marketing team

Okay, we admit “how [insert product or service] is like [insert pop culture reference]” content is a massive cliche. But they went to a lot of effort with Avengers: Endgame (it cost USD $400 million) and you won’t hear about much else over the next couple of weeks. So, we’re doing it. Marketers, assemble!!

Web Design and UX: Tony Stark/Iron Man

As the man himself said in the first Avengers movie: “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.” Most web designers don’t have to pick up the tab. But they are essential when it comes to getting your marketing reality to match your vision.

What you’re looking for here is a techie who doesn’t just know how to build what you want but can also bring their own UX knowledge to your marketing campaigns. Tony has a bit of an ego that needs managing, but all the best hires do.

Analytics: David Banner/Hulk

Miss your numbers and he’ll turn green and demolish the office. But that’s a small price to pay in order to have your biggest brain crunching the numbers. Analytics are crucial to successful marketing. From understanding what your data is telling you to making the case for more budget.

You want someone who’s comfortable, not just with Google Analytics, but also whatever social media pages and third party tracking tools you’re using.

Creative: Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

If you don’t have any actual super powers you have to get creative. Not the most tenuous link you’ll see in this month’s Endgame-inspired marketing blog deluge.

Ms Romonoff will add flair and the imagination you need to set your marketing campaigns apart from the competition. She’ll be able to turn her hand to design and video or find people who can. And she’ll come up with original and compelling ideas for packaging, presenting and promoting your key messages.

Writing: Thor

“Families can be tough. Before my father died, he told me I had a half-sister … that he imprisoned in Hell. Then she returned home, and stabbed me in the eye, so … I had to kill her. It’s life, isn’t it, I guess. I feel your pain.”

The God of Thunder has a way with words and got most of the best lines in “Avengers: Infinity War”, so look no further for your writer.

With such a premium on original content – and lots of it – you’ll always have plenty for your writer or writers to do. From turning out blogs and crafting new landing pages to snappy ad copy and engaging emails with clickable subject lines.

Editor: Clint Barton/Hawkeye

A poor man’s Jason Bourne, maybe. But he has an eye for detail. So, Clint Barton is your first choice for editor. It will be the editor’s job to ensure your campaigns fit the brief and that your brand guidelines are properly observed at all times.

Strategy and Project Management: Steve Rogers/Captain America

Experience is a vital element on any team. And how often do you get the chance to hire someone from America’s greatest generation?

Cap is a shoo-in for the strategy and project management role. You need someone who commands respect at all levels within the organisation. A stickler for doing things properly and ensuring deadlines are met, with military-grade strategic nous. His old school values and work ethic will get your projects delivered on time and on brief.

Outsourcing your marketing

Two problems with hiring the Avengers. First they don’t exist. And second they cost half a billion dollars per campaign.

Let’s assume you staff your marketing team with real humans. How do you decide what and when to outsource to third parties? We wrote a blog article on how content marketing agencies can be more effective than in-house teams. And as a content marketing agency, we obviously have a vested interest and natural bias.

So, rather than feather our own nest or recycle January’s blog article let’s take a look at some of the potential pitfalls of outsourcing parts of your marketing activity. Here are our top five based on our experience of helping clients pick up the pieces after bad agency experiences:

  1. Losing access to Google Analytics, Google Ads or social media pages: Among the most damaging situations we’ve been asked to help out with are when clients have lost access to their data, social media profiles or even their whole site because a relationship with a third party has ended badly. You should outsource to get extra pairs of hands and bigger brains. Never to hand off responsibility for your company’s key assets.
  2. Blackhat tactics to secure short-term results: Marketing is a competitive space and clients often ask for guaranteed results. So you can’t blame some agencies for giving them what they ask for. However, big promises often lead to disappointment or worse. Worse being short-term results delivered by nefarious methods that blow back on the client a few months later.
  3. Technology lock-ins: There are lots of third party tools – free and paid – that can make a material difference to your marketing campaigns. But make sure you’re involved in deciding which tools to use. These choices matter and can have long-term consequences for your business. Maybe they lock you in to ongoing payments or tie you to a particular supplier for a lengthy period.
  4. Outsourcing of knowledge: We quoted David Packard earlier in this post when we were talking about the importance of extending marketing beyond the marketing team. Marketing shouldn’t be siloed inside your organisation and it definitely shouldn’t be siloed outside of it. Agencies should add value both in terms of what they can do for you but also what they can teach you. Knowledge is something you always want to keep in-house.
  5. Brand disconnect: A big challenge for agencies when stacking up against in-house teams is that they don’t get the chance to live and breathe the company culture every day. They are hired help and they work on multiple client accounts. As the client, you need to be aware of this risk from the outset and compensate by really engaging with the briefing and feedback process.

CHAPTER THREE: Marketing tactics and strategies

In this chapter we’ll look at the marketing funnel and some of the popular tactics you’ll no doubt be familiar with for finding, engaging and nurturing leads.

The marketing funnel takes lots of different forms. Google it and you’ll see plenty of variations but also a common theme. Here is one of our favourites courtesy of

We like this one for its simplicity. You have three types of prospects:

In “Awareness”, it’s people who don’t know your brand or your products. Or don’t know that you can solve their problem.

In “Consideration”, people have engaged with you in some way already, but they’re not ready to buy for whatever reason (not the right time, haven’t been convinced yet).

And in “Action” they’ve reached decision time and it’s between you and the competition.

The challenges and opportunities for marketers change as people move down the funnel. But this sort of broad segmentation can be an extremely useful way to stress test your marketing campaign. Do you have content, a promotional strategy and a conversion goal for each funnel stage?

In our experience, brands often neglect the middle of the funnel, especially when it comes to setting a conversion goal. If website visitors – for example – have just two choices: leave or buy, you’re missing out on a massive lead generation and nurture opportunity.

So, let’s assume you’re sold on the marketing funnel idea and now you need some tactics and cool ideas to tackle each stage. Well, look no further. Here’s an intro, a top tip and a useful link for content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, email marketing and web design.

Content marketing basics

Content marketing is about creating valuable and relevant content that drives useful actions on the part of your target audience. You can use content marketing at every stage of the sales funnel from awareness with SEO-friendly blogs, to capturing mid-funnel leads with gated ebooks, to closing deals with compelling and well-targeted offer emails.

Top tip: Don’t rely on your creative skills to deliver ROI. Content needs to be promoted to get seen by the right people. As Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, said: “Before you create any more ‘great content’ figure out how you’re going to market it first.”

Useful link: How does content marketing work?

SEO basics

In Chapter One we highlighted the huge share of global online ad spend held by Google. The reason for this is that Google owns consumer intent. It knows what we want, when we want it because we tell it (5.2 billion times so far today). This makes ranking for the right search terms hugely valuable to any business. SEO is a longer-term play and less certain than PPC, but the ROI when you get it right is hard to beat.

Top tip: When it comes to ranking pages, the site is often more important than the content. So, it pays to pick your battles when competing for popular keywords. As Moz founder Rand Fishkin put it: “Without any domain authority or page authority it’s almost impossible to rank for competitive terms.”

Useful link: Content marketing and SEO: A Speed Date

Social media marketing basics

If your audience isn’t Googling, there’s a good chance they’re on social media. On average we spend 142 minutes a day checking, scrolling, posting and liking, according to Global Web Index, a consumer profiling company. And we do most of it on the same networks. In fact, four of the six biggest social media sites by users are owned by Facebook (Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram). The second biggest is owned by Google (YouTube).

That means social media marketing is really about going where your audience is. A generation ago marketers bought ad space in newspapers that their target demographic read every morning over breakfast. Now, newspapers don’t have the eyeballs. It’s a social media app on a smartphone.

Top tip: For brands, social media sites are advertising platforms. But just like television and radio, the ad content needs to fit the medium. So take advantage of the free tools and helpful ideas that social media sites offer to create really compelling ad content for your marketing campaigns.

Useful link: The importance of compelling content in social media success

Email marketing basics

Email is the oldest digital marketing tactic. Even the Backstreet Boys with their dial-up modems back in 1999 got marketing emails. But just like Captain America, old doesn’t mean obsolete. And thanks to marketing automation, email is enjoying something of a renaissance.

When you’re chasing people at the middle and bottom of your marketing funnel, few tactics are more effective than a properly-targeted email campaign. And if you use marketing automation software, you can massively ramp up the scale and level of personalisation that your emails offer.

Top tip: If email is a big part of your marketing strategy, don’t forget to feed the hopper. You always need a plan for capturing more email addresses, whether that’s pop-up subscription forms, interactive quizzes or gated ebooks.

Useful link: Your complete guide to successful drip email campaigns

Web design basics

Okay, so you can’t afford Tony Stark and no guarantee he knows about UX anyway. But web design has become an essential part of your marketing mix. People are increasingly hostile to slow, clunky online experiences. They want their interactions with brands to be smooth and fast on whichever device they use.

What this means is that your otherwise perfect marketing plan can hit a wall if your web design sucks. Maybe your form is difficult to fill in on mobile or the clever animated banner takes forever to load. You need someone with the web design and UX skills to put that right before it kills your conversion rate.

Top tip: Don’t underestimate the importance of mobile. We often hear that mobile doesn’t matter because most of the traffic is on desktops. That doesn’t mean people don’t want to access your site on a mobile, it means they can’t. People have multiple interactions with your brand these days, more and more of those will be on a mobile device, even if the purchase is on a desktop or in a store.

Useful link: 60 UX Tips Whitepaper

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Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

Read more of Adam's articles