The Tao of Marketing, Part II: Three Business Philosophies

February 25, 2015

Marketing Philosophy

This is Part II of Van West Media’s series of blog posts “The Tao of Marketing.” If you’re just joining us, be sure to start with Part I.

I’d like to discuss three business philosophies– three possible attitudes to a customer, three mental priorities that directly impact the success (or failure) of a business enterprise.

Marketing Philosophy of Van West Media

These three attitudes or priorities are production, sales, and marketing. To the degree to which your business is production – or sales-oriented, it’s forfeiting on the marketing, and as mentioned in Part I, lack of a properly focused marketing effort is what undermines the best effort of business owners and managers to keep their ventures successful.

Even though most businesses would insist that they are marketing-oriented, it’s usually not the case.

First, let’s take a look at production-focused business. It’s a noble business paradigm, inherited from small crafts shop of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. Production philosophy prides itself in putting quality first: “build the best product possible, and the customer will come.”

For example: If Van West Media was a production-oriented agency (we could be because we do strive to achieve the highest attainable quality of all our products and services), we would simply focus on making great websites and web applications (and possibly on creating great online content). We wouldn’t care much about promoting ourselves – and I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. The quality of our work would speak for itself, and we’d be famous for it.

Production-type of businesses don’t care if the customer says, “no,” because the product is so good that another customer will step in and buy it.

It’s an interesting approach, but not for the modern age. It lacks the essential part of any healthy system: fast feedback. In our overpopulated world, there is abundance of competition. Superior quality is not recognized until after it has been experienced for a prolonged period of time. By the time the customer begins to think warmly of the high-quality product or service he purchased from the production-oriented company and is ready to buy again, that company is out of business, and the former owner now works for his competitor, who delivers at a lower quality, but knows how to sell.

This brings us to the second possible attitude: focus on sales.

Whoever came up with this first, had the right idea: a customer has many products or services to choose from, and the final choice and commitment to make a purchase is typically emotional rather than rational. If we can influence the emotions of a prospective buyer, we can trigger a “buying reflex” with sheer emotional persuasion and make profit. Sales orientation is all about overcoming the customer’s inherent resistance to buy a product while motivating the customer to say “yes”… even if he doesn’t really need the product.

A sales-oriented business relies on a strong sales team, thus building and maintaining such a team becomes the business’ top priority. This is really effective. Classic, old-school advertising is all based on this, and so is telemarketing. Selling is a difficult and noble art. Selling makes the world go round. Progress would stop without sales. So as soon as you feel the impulse to hire Van West Media – ACT ON IT. Hire Van West Media to make all your online dreams COME TRUE .

(That’s me selling you the sales attitude. Notice I’m not appealing to your rational left-brain hemisphere, but creating an emotional response in the right one – I even go as far as resorting the the most vicious sales tactic: humor. That is really a punch below the belt.)

Seriously though, you should make Van West Media your sole web services provider, because when Van West Media works for you, you’re a superstar. (That was a double-punch combo. Learned it from Jordan Belfort.)

And before I wrap this up, our sales techniques certainly works for us, so when you hire us, we’ll make these techniques work for you, too. We’ll make you rich, and you’ll move to the South of France. That’s it. Hire us.

Okay, enough of that.

There is something not quite right with the aforementioned sales model. It’s archaic and not sustainable for long-term strategy. Sure, the customer made a buy, but they will have buyer’s remorse, and many customers will never be back again.

Now, let’s take a look at the third, most promising attitude a business can have toward a customer: marketing approach.

Some time ago I had the privilege to collaborate with a skilled, mid-level entrepreneur (I’ll refer to him here as Mr. Miyagi – not his real name). Mr. Miyagi loved to ask everyone who worked for him the same question: “Who’s your boss? Who pays your salary?” A rookie employee would answer, “Well… why – you, Mr. Miyagi!” – to which Mr. Miyagi chuckled and replied, “No, not me. I’m just managing the cash flow. The customer is your boss who pays your salary. Make the customer happy.”

That is marketing philosophy in a nutshell.

Satisfaction of customers’ needs and wants is the priority and the rationale for everything a marketing-oriented company does.

For example, as I mentioned in the first blog post from this series, Van West Media prides itself on being a marketing-oriented shop. We find our clients through focused marketing efforts, serve as our clients’ go-to people, and craft marketing campaigns and ongoing strategies for our clients that bring them new customers and help fulfill their customer needs. To be effective, we must understand not only the needs of our customers, but the in-depth needs of our customers’ customers.

Marketing is the healthiest business philosophy and the Golden Rule in business. The goal is to epitomize value and quality in the eyes of customers.

Marketing integrates and absorbs both production and sales-oriented approaches, assigning them to their proper places in strategic hierarchy. Quality – the key concept of production philosophy – is defined as something that helps our clients serve their clients in the most successful and effective manner. We implement effective online sales techniques for our clients to help them gauge their customers’ needs, and sell products and services that truly satisfy.

We rely on our clients’ feedback to give them high-quality websites and web applications, mobile apps – or our ultimate service: an overall digital marketing strategy that elevates their businesses above others in their field.

Here’s the marketing model:

1. Identify needs and wants of the target markets, chosen based on our resources and speculated ability to satisfy these needs and wants (adjust the choice as needed).

2. Focus the research, production, and sales effort on certain segments of the target market (satisfying not all, but the most important selected needs and wants).

3. Create products and services of value that meet prospective customers’ needs, test them and modify, if necessary.

4. Succeed in business though customer satisfaction, and request customer feedback.

5. Repeat as many times as possible, widening (or in some cases, tightening) the scope.

Ready to take advantage of skilled, talented, result-oriented marketing experts of Van West Media? Let us know how we can help!


Stand by for The Tao of Marketing, Part III: The Battle for Marketing… coming soon!

The Tao of Marketing, Part I: Survival of Your Business

February 16, 2015

“Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production and the interests of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of a consumer. The maxim is so perfectly self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to [rove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of producers who seem to consider production, and not consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and commerce.”

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)


The importance of marketing

I was glad to find this quote from the work of the famous Scottish pioneer of political economy, because it illustrates the notion that marketing is the foundation of all economic standards, and the reality that marketing, even though self-evident and usually most avidly declared, is still the most neglected economic principle. You may be familiar with the alarming statistic published by Bloomberg that 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first 18 months.  A couple of years ago Forbes had published a simple and valid analysis of the basic reasons for that massive failure – and three out of these five reasons are due to marketing neglect.

Marketing and Survival of Your Business

Van West Media is here to help: the very reason why we are on the market is to help businesses like yours live long and fulfilling lives, through high-quality, modern marketing.

But back to the main subject. Even though marketing is on everyone’s tongue and (should be) in everyone’s budget, 80 percent of new businesses are not doing it right, and vanish – which is very unfortunate because they may have excellent products and services for sale and could truly benefit their customers or even advance civilization. Let me phrase it differently: those failed startups – they are not initiated by losers or idiots, or by people too lazy to work hard for their success. In fact, I am sure that all failed entities were run (into the ground) by people passionate about the new products and services they had to offer. However, the neglect of marketing is such a major mistake that no matter how talented these people are, their enterprises cost them time and money, and bring nothing but disappointment (and even debt) within a fairly short period of time.

This concerns not only very new businesses. The alternative, and more alarming statistics, published by Dun & Bradstreet and INC. magazine, states that 33 percent of all new businesses fail within the first six months, 50 percent fail within their first two years of operation, and 75 percent fail within the first three years. The estimates may vary, but the truth remains the same. Long or short-term, more businesses fail than they become successful – and the main cause is lack of correctly focused marketing efforts.

So if marketing is that important, it’s probably worth looking into, learning and implementing it. This is what we at Van West Media are really good at. But first, what exactly is marketing?

A technically precise definition of marketing was coined by the American Marketing Association (AMA – an authoritative organization that could certainly benefit from improved branding, logo and website design, but that’s straying from the point). So here’s their definition of marketing:

“Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.”

Note that the AMA definition doesn’t say that a business goal is to make profit, but rather “satisfy individual and organizational objectives” – this makes the definition of marketing I just quoted equally applicable to commercial businesses and nonprofit organizations. Yes – nonprofits face competition and knowledge gap, too, therefore they need marketing no less, and possibly more, than profit-oriented organizations. Here at Van West Media we often work with nonprofit organizations and value the unique challenges and learning experiences this branch of our service represents.

Satisfaction of the individual and organizational objectives is only possible when we are fully aware of what these objectives are for our customers. The challenge here is that the objectives are dynamic – constantly changing. To be successful in marketing, a business manager has to monitor the pulse of the customer, always anticipating a customer’s needs and wants in advance. Ideally, marketing should satisfy both needs (must-haves) and wants (nice-to-haves) because satisfaction is more complete when both are addressed.

But let’s focus on needs for a moment.

With the increasing complexity of modern life, people need things that they didn’t need before. It’s difficult to survive without computer or a phone these days, unless you’re a Jack Reacher type. A business – your business – needs a system of Internet-based solutions, usually including at least a website, ongoing dynamic social media activity, and often some form of customized software (e.g., CRM integration, digital signage, etc.) in order to remain competitive. For example, when speaking in terms of a website – in order to be successful, your business needs not just any website, but one that performs well and makes it easy for a prospective customer to buy something they need from that business.

The good news here is that marketing has a set of techniques – methods – that are learnable, rational and could be applied to a wide variety of specific business tasks and goals. I’ll outline many of these techniques and methods in further marketing-related posts in our blog, in the hope that our readers find them useful and learn ways to apply them to their business. The key to understanding marketing is the concept that identifying and satisfying customers’ needs is necessary for long-term survival of any business.

The web solution that we provide help your business to achieve that goal – and we operate based on the same principles when serving our customers.

Yes, Van West Media prides itself as a marketing-oriented firm from top to bottom. Whatever each department does, the goal is to understand our customer’s needs and wants (and, in many cases, help our clients to better understand their needs and wants), and to satisfy them with a maximally effective, creative and technical solution. Our job is to bring high-satisfaction to our customer’s clients and guarantee the survival of their business with maximum profit.

Contact Van West Media to discuss your goals!

Stand by for The Tao of Marketing, Part II… coming soon!

St. Valentine’s Day, Neanderthals, and Effective Web Design for Business

February 11, 2015

Web Design for Business Website

With St. Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s only natural that our thoughts should turn to Neanderthals. (It is rather common to think of Neanderthals on February 14th, and it’s proven that at least 8% of people do that.)

Okay – actually, this article is about effective design for business websites, but Valentine’s Day and the Neanderthals offer meaningful insight into what really makes a website profitable. (If at any time while reading this blog post you feel ready to make it a reality for your business,  contact Van West Media).

In case you somehow missed your first paleoanthropology lecture, the distinct species of Neanderthal humans roamed the world roughly 350,000 years ago – hanging out at stomping grounds as far and wide as Northern Germany in the North, Portugal in the West, Israel in the South, and the Altai mountains in the East. The Neanderthals made advanced tools, could speak, formed social hierarchies, buried their dead, adorned themselves with bird feathers, built dwellings, and even sailed the Mediterranean a hundred thousand years before ancient Greeks.

Then, sometime around 40,000 years ago – BAM! – just like that, the Neanderthals vanished.

The prevalent theory, until recently, was that the crude and uncultivated Neanderthals went extinct via the process of natural selection, simply because they couldn’t successfully compete against the genetically superior Cro-Magnon humans. (Notice how by introducing the notion of competition, I’m beginning to steer the conversation toward the subject of effective web design for business?) According to the Neanderthal extinction theory, modern humans have descended directly from a fairly small tribe of Cro-Magnon people who, being smarter, stronger and generally cooler than the Neanderthals, gently pushed the more primitive genetic cousins out of existence. Or not so gently, if we trust William Golding. (A similar thing happened with blog platforms in 2004: enter WordPress, exit MovableType).

As it turned out, we’ve been flattering ourselves. A recent genetic study concluded Neanderthal humans are still around. Not only have they NOT gone extinct, but they actually fared rather well. In fact, there are about 8 billion Neanderthals living on planet Earth today. You are one of them.

Sure, chances are you’re not a pure-bred Neanderthal, but a genetic hybrid of a Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, like all of us. Instead of going extinct, the Neanderthals did a much smarter thing: they followed Senator James E. Watson‘s favorite proverb “if you can’t lick ’em, jine ’em”, went ahead and seduced – uh, genetically merged with – the Cro-Magnons. I find this romantic, and I’m inclined to believe that the process began some 50,000 years ago – perhaps on a cold, windy, but sunny day on February 14.

So not only were the Neanderthals effective in genetic competition with the Cro-Magnons, but the very reason why modern Homo Sapiens are so evolutionally successful is because sophisticated, impossibly stylish Cro-Magnon men were smart enough to find something attractive in sturdy, streetwise Neanderthal women. Or vice versa.

Now for the effective design for a business website.

When regular web users think of great web design, they often tend to think in terms of esthetics. AWWWards showcases some amazing sites that certainly inspire and astonish their visitors. These websites are the Cro-Magnons of web design. They are works of art – elegant, glossy and expensive. The problem with a great number of these websites is that they often serve to showcase the creative capabilities of the design and development teams, rather than present a tool that helps a business to achieve its commercial or nonprofit goals.

On the other hand, we may see something fairly crude and ugly, like this: This website wasn’t designed by Van West Media, I’m just using it as an example. There’s nothing posh about it. Colors clash. Homepage is clattered. There’s too much going on. The copy is unnecessarily extensive, navigation is un-intuitive, the layout is not responsive, so it not very convenient for users browsing via mobile devices. This website really violates every principle of esthetics. It’s the Neanderthal of websites. Okay, let me just say it like it is: it’s freaking horrible.

But it works.

It works really well because it serves a very specific purpose: to motivate web users to pick up the phone, call the company and sign up for a home security service. When people shop online for home security, they want to know how much it will cost them. Guess what? The website answers the question instantly and boldly. As soon as the user loads the site in the browser, the price question is answered. It’s cheap. And since it’s America’s Number 1 Home Security Provider, as the very visible heading states in no uncertain terms, it must be the best choice (right?) – here we have something known as “social proof.” There are discounts and freebies offered very conspicuously to incite users to take action now. Finally, all you need is pick up the phone and call – and the number is right there, in large bold letters in the header, in the body, and in the footer – and so is the promo code. In case you’re not big on phone calls, a contact form is right there, as well. Also, the website is not as low-tech as it  appears at first: it tells the user how much time is left until the company’s call center is closed for the day. It even has a special tab that allows users to enter their ZIP code and check how safe (or unsafe) their neighborhood is.

And yet, the design is garish and confusing. I’m sure the website earns the business a lot of money, but it could earn a lot more. There are plenty of improvements to be made.

What you need is a website that is clean, easy to navigate, well-performing, and responsive – and it should also serve a clearly defined purpose: generate leads and urge visitors to take action that results in fulfilling their needs and making your business more successful. You need something like Daily Pantry Foods, Profound Cloud, Animal Health Center, or Golden Door.

You need a website that merges the beauty and performance of a Cro-Magnon with the down-to-earth, raw business power of a Neanderthal – a website that combines the beauty of your vision with the force of your purpose.

In other words, you need to give your business a Valentine’s Day present, primal style.

That’s where Van West Media comes into the picture. Our speciality is digital solutions for business. We will help you determine the hierarchy of business goals that you can achieve using modern technology, and express that through user-friendly, elegantly designed online software, handmade for your business.

Ready to increase your company’s ability to compete? Engage Van West Media.