It's the little things that, collectively, make the big things when it comes to marketing. As I traverse the country working with independent colleges and schools, I am convinced that it is the attention to both detail and a broader definition of marketing that elevates and enhances the brand. The schools that get this right have really taken the time to think through their marketing communications from a broad and strategic perspective.
Why is that we have so narrowly defined marketing communications? Ask most marketing communications professionals about their brand management and strategic communications, they will most likely respond by talking about their industry tools - website, social media feeds, videos, print media, and advertising. Sure, these things are important - no doubt. But, they represent such a limited view of your organization from a brand management perspective.
Let's define marketing. Peter Drucker once said marketing was simply "an exchange of value". Phil Kotler defined marketing as "not simply devising clever ways to dispose of what you make, but the art of creative true value with the client". Marketing is client-centered, which means that marketing is really about the overall user experience. When you look at marketing from that perspective, it makes you think about some bigger questions:
- What does our physical plant really look like? Is it clean or well-groomed?
- Is our signage confusing and get a visitor get around and find their way easy on our campus?
- When a phone call comes in, is the receptionist distracted or focused?
- Is the lobby or waiting area of key administrative offices arranged in such a way that places the focus on the client?
- How are key people in the organization dressed and ready for client interaction?
Clearly, these questions are simply starting points. I could make this list as long as the day is old, but the simple point is that the little things are really the big things. A basic axiom of communication is that "one cannot not communicate." All things are acts of communication and brand management. To narrowly define your tools as the website, print media, advertising, or push emails simply misses the point.
Think of any great marketing organization and consider these questions. What does the way an Apple store is arranged tell you about their client-centeredness? What does their product design tell you about what customers want? Why are there no counters or lines?
Great marketing communications starts and ends with the client, and it is the little things that matter.