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Blog: Marketing guidance from a guru
Tire Business file photo Alaina Scott, Online Manager, Tire Business.

AKRON — About four months ago, I heard Gary Vaynerchik speak at an Ad Age Digital Conference that I haven’t been able to forget. And he said something that sort of stuck with me. Something that has been in the forefront of my mind as I help our events marketing team promote the ITEC show.

“Market for the year you are in,” he said.

It’s simple. It’s direct. It’s one of those phrases that can so easily become a professional mantra that you don’t even recognize it’s happened.

Profound statements can come in small packages.

So I have this phrase I’ve been carrying around in my pocket that makes me feels like I’m armed to be a big, bad social media marketer. But now what? How do I transform my awesome mantra into action?

How do I market for the year I’m in?

There’s no easy secret to ensuring I’m doing this. There’s no quick recipe for making sure I’m meeting the needs of today’s audience. And sometimes there’s not even feedback from the audience about whether they’ve seen messages we’re using to get their attention.

But, since I’m a geek, I’ve been doing some legwork, and it involves analytics. I’ve been watching where and how people connect with the messages of the brands I work for. I’ve been trying to pay extra close attention to how customers use the information we give them so I can better understand their needs. Because that’s what I think Gary meant. Or at least that’s what Gary’s message means for the brands I work for.

Marketing for the year we’re in just means changing with the times and with our customers.

If customers refuse to pay shipping and handling, then run specials without the fees. If they spend hours each day on social media, then take your message to that platform and find the customer there. If they want to make appointments online and not by calling, then add a feature to your site.

If they are busy and convenience proves to be worth a higher cost, then offer a car service so they’re not in the waiting room snacking on stale cookies when they would rather be at their son’s baseball game or in a meeting at work.

But before you can decide what the customer of today looks like or what’s important to him or her, it’s important to get a real clear idea of who your customer is — focus groups, meeting and talking to customers, surveys—it all helps to get an idea of how you can serve them best. And once you get that figured out, you can market the services your businesses has that meet those needs.

So, I’ve since adjusted my mantra. Although the principal is still based on Gary’s guidance, I’ve made it my own. Market to the customers you have today while forecasting their needs of tomorrow.

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Alaina Scott can be reached at ascott@crain.com or on Twitter at @alainaescott.

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