by Steve Adubato, PhD

Virtually every professional is involved in promoting, selling or advertising something. Put together, these activities come under the umbrella of marketing.

A colleague of mine recently described marketing this way; "Marketing is the strategy you apply in order to sell your idea, concept, service or product to a group of targeted customers."

Even if you don't advertise, you still must have a marketing plan. And while today's buzz words around marketing include such terms as branding, imaging, positioning and synergy, all this comes down to communication. There are countless books, newsletters and infomercials about how to sell more effectively. It's much harder to get quality information around the broader topic of marketing. One of the best books on the subject is called "Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business." The book's author, Jay Conrad Levinson, has written a dozen books in the "Guerrilla Marketing" series. Levinson's advice is straight forward, sensible, affordable to implement and relevant to any business or professional. Here are some of the key "Guerrilla Marketing" themes that might be helpful to you:

Marketing is everything you do to promote yourself and your business. It includes the name of your business, hours of operation, how you package your product or service, and the color and design of your business card.
Marketing involves such things as how your people answer the phone, follow-up with customers and greet people when they walk in the door. It's also about your presentation to an individual prospect and the personal note you send after the meeting thanking the prospect for his or her time. It's all marketing.
Clearly, money is a factor in marketing, but unlike more traditional marketing activities that are heavily dependent upon big bucks, "Guerrilla Marketing" is more about how you manage your time, energy, imagination and resources. For example, you can spend $1 million dollars on a bells and whistles, super slick advertising campaign while the receptionist who answers the phone in your company is rude and unprofessional. It doesn't cost you more to have a good receptionist, but it does require you to take the time to make sure the person in that position has the right attitude and the necessary skills to perform that function.
While some business experts will tell you that it is essential for your business to diversify, "Guerrilla Marketing" says that you should specialize and narrow your focus in an area that allows you and your organization to stand out among the competition.
"Guerrilla Marketing" promotes the idea of using a combination of techniques and tools to communicate with existing and potential customers. Some people swear by the Internet as a marketing tool and put all their eggs into that high-tech basket. In fact, in most situations a more integrated marketing approach including a Web site, direct mail, advertising, newsletters, personal notes (both handwritten and via e-mail) and face to face meetings is usually more effective.
"Guerrilla Marketing" advocates that while you are trying to bring in new clients, one of the keys to success is to expand upon the business you do with existing clients. The key to achieving this is what Levinson calls "the immense power of customer follow-up and outrageously good service."
Finally, "Guerrilla Marketing" is about building relationships with people, one at a time. There is no simple or easy way to do this. As Levinson says, this is a "painfully slow process by which you move people from their place in the sun to their place on your customer list, gently taking a grasp of the inside of their minds and never letting go…no detail is too insignificant. In fact, the smaller the detail, the more important it is to the customer." Like I said, it's all marketing.