This week we spoke to Rachel Lee, Teaching Fellow at Keele Business School, about the importance of marketing as a tool in business.
I am currently a Teaching Fellow in Marketing at Keele Business School. This means I have the privilege of supporting students in their learning so that they can critically understand the role of marketing, and the tools and techniques available to them to tackle some of the challenges and opportunities they may face in future employment or self-employment. Prior to becoming a Teaching Fellow at Keele, I studied a BA (Hons) in Business Studies with The Open University and an MA in Marketing at Keele University. Following this, I went on to gain a Professional Graduate Certificate for Post-compulsory Education from Glyndwr University. During my studies, I gained experience working in the retail sector and working as a freelance artist and illustrator – a perfect chance to see marketing in action!
How important do you think marketing is in driving successes for start-ups and entrepreneurs?
Marketing is one of the many pillars needed to support and enhance organisational success. Marketing fundamentally helps create a dialogue between an organisation, their customers and the wider environment in which they operate to ensure they are delivering the best experience possible. A common misnomer that surrounds the world of marketing is that it is just about selling, advertising and talking at customers.
‘Marketing is a two-way process’
But actually, it is a two-way process of communicating with your target audience; it involves talking and listening so that a relationship that is beneficial to both parties can genuinely be established. So, for any start-up business or entrepreneur, marketing is the gateway to ensure the best information is being fed into the business so that a strong message is getting back out to the right audience.
Is digital marketing overtaking physical marketing in terms of impact?
Technology continues to advance at a rapid speed which can be both exciting and daunting, particularly when launching a new business. With a plethora of digital tools available to deliver impactful marketing content, start-up and entrepreneurs are faced with more marketing options than ever before. There is no denying that technology has now become a vital marketing tool, with many people interacting and engaging on some form of technological device. But I think it important with any marketing tool, physical or digital, to treat it as an asset, not a solution. Businesses need to decide which marketing tool is going to best deliver the results they are seeking to achieve.
‘Technology has become a vital marketing tool’
For example, if I were launching a new healthy snack bar, whilst digital presence is going to be helpful, I ultimately need people to try the product. So, yes, I think there is a natural development and movement towards using more digital marketing, but at times physical marketing may still be the more effective option for engaging with the target audience.
What are the three most important resources for a marketer?
A notebook (physical or digital) – this might sound strange, but I firmly believe in having somewhere to note down ideas, inspiration or observations as they strike you. You can sometimes spend a long time trying to solve ‘a problem’ or come up with ‘the idea’, but this can come at any time in any form – so having somewhere to write it down means it won’t get lost from the various distractions in life!
Getting feedback – whether this is achieved through a conversation with a customer, data collected from online surveys or advise from a mentor, any insight into current performance and areas for improvement is vital for developing the marketing of a business.
Online presence – anything from a simple website to a complex digital marketing campaign, the reality is that most people check out an organisation online, so an online presence is a must-have in order to be found by those who might be interested in what you have to offer.
LadderTech provides mentoring software for start-ups and entrepreneurs, matching them with professional service providers in their area and helping them connect to their wider business community.
Do you think mentors are a valuable resource for start-ups and SMEs?
Being mentored by somebody who has experienced a similar situation that you are facing is extremely helpful. That is not to say that a mentor will have all the answers or that they are there to tell you right and wrong, because every experience is different, and start-ups and SMEs will always have their own lessons to learn. However, a mentor will have walked that unfamiliar path before and can shed some light on how to tackle some of the experiences that are brand new to a start up or SME business venture. Knowledge shared can mean a problem halved.
Do you think business mentoring can have an impact on growth?
By having a mentor or simply seeking some form of advice means you are actively engaging in a process of growth. It means you are opening your mind to improve and change. A mentor won’t take the action for you, but they will encourage you to develop and grow. So, yes, I think having a business mentor naturally impacts both personal and professional growth, however painful this can be at times! It helps people and businesses extend out of their own comfort zones and beliefs to seek new opportunities or approaches. A growth mindset towards your business means that you are open to learn, develop and improve in the long-term.