Why people are the most important part of marketing, by a mile

My dad, who knows nothing about marketing, recently gave me the best piece of marketing advice I’ve ever heard.

“Remember, it’s all about the people”.

It was a generic piece of internship advice, for sure. I had, after all, only just clarified that my extra week in Exeter wasn’t anything to do with music rehearsals or wanting to keep away from my family. It was, in fact, a marketing internship, so the advice he gave as I ran off to the station was solid, fatherly advice for dealing with a new workplace. Thanks Dad.

But, as I’ve learned this week, he was more right than he knew.

In what way?

Marketing is undoubtedly about computers. The guys here at HoneyBe each have two at their desks, and every office window in Southernhay Gardens shows one face in profile, one coffee, and one computer. The brand doesn’t matter. Apple or Apple, they’re all the same.

And you can’t do marketing without the necessary skills. Maybe you’ll take a CIM course, or read guides online, or just learn on the job. You need research skills (finally, the humanities degree comes in handy). You need creativity, and can’t get anywhere without it. You need drive and patience.

But really, marketing is about people.

Do away with your fancy computer and your fancy courses and what you’re left with is a network of people that need something done. Consumers, clients, agency and intern, the web of interaction and understanding is complex. I’d draw a chart, but I’ve never been very adept with Paint.

So, here’s the rubric I’ve come up with this week to help myself get to grips with marketing.

1. Think about yourself

This is something I am particularly good at because I’m a human.

Unfortunately for me, not every consumer is a twenty-two-year-old female who likes Disney movies and sings A cappella. As a result, when critiquing a web page, or writing copy, it’s important to separate my own tastes from how the customer is going to interact with those materials.

Tone is everything in creating a good campaign. By understanding that my own personal tone is not neutral and is, in fact, a light-hearted mix of colloquialisms and classic High School Musical references, it’s easier to isolate that from work I’m doing for a client whose tone needs to sound totally different. Serious, even.

2. Keep up with the team

Communication is everything. While conversation is usually the best policy in social life, in marketing there are all sorts of fancy applications to help you ping messages to the person sitting opposite you without even opening your mouth.

But truth be told, we do like to chat here. It’s just a lot easier if work-related conversations live on an app with all sorts of useful features to help you make sense of your own plans. The second that things are forgotten or files mislaid, the stress levels are likely to creep up and attack you when you least expect it like (spoiler) Hans at the end of Frozen. What a nasty piece of work.

3. Get to know the client

If the client is used to a different way of communication to your office, being adaptable is vital. This can mean being prepared to use different software systems, switching your tone when chatting with different types of clients, or even communicating at different times of the day… within reason (they told me to add this).

Competition means that agencies need to work hard to capture and keep the attention of potential clients with shiny campaigns and well put-together pitches. In fact, the client’s happiness is the hinge on the door to success, so getting that interaction right is vital for smooth passage through the project. I’ll pause here to accept my applause for that analogy.

4. Make friends with the consumer

Times are changing, and people don’t accept the hard sell anymore. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this week, it’s the value of research in making the consumer not only know about the client’s company but love it with more passion than many members of their own family.

Audiences are now talking to companies, tweeting their questions, building up relationships, attending each other’s baby showers. But behind all this is the research, data analysis that goes into testing what people really react to online. From this information, you can calculate the best way to contact them, and how and where to approach them.

The opposite can be said of making friends in your social life, for obvious reasons.

So, thanks Dad.

If marketing was going to be boiled down to a basic, essential jus, let’s say, it probably wouldn’t be far off the taster I’ve just offered above. I’m no expert, but from what I’ve gathered from training at the Uni last week, and chatting with the guys this week, get the people right and you can’t go far off track.

That’s pretty good advice, I guess.