If your marketing focus is on your products, your sales prices, your funnel, and your outcomes, you’ve got a problem. All the “yours” in that last sentence should be a pretty obvious clue.

Your (ahem) primary focus as a marketer has to be on the needs and attitudes of your target market. Every other decision flows from what you know about your clients and their needs.

Quite a bit of this is Marketing 101: benefits, not features; pain points; the cost of doing nothing; points of differentiation; and so on.

More important are the subtle and not-so-subtle mindset changes that you open yourself up to when you shift your focus externally. Because not only do you begin to look at your marketing approach through the eyes of your customer, but you begin to see the rest of your company through their eyes, as well.

This is critical, and it can help prevent the kinds of silo’ed thinking that keeps one hand from knowing what the other is doing. We’ve all seen this too frequently with “The Great Sales/Marketing Divide,” but it can be just as damaging if the customer service and product development teams aren’t marketing focused.

Your customer service team should, without doubt, be as knowledgeable about your marketing goals as your marketing team. They are the ones who, being on the front line, are most likely to alert you when your goals aren’t aligned with your clients’ expectations. Of course, to do so they have to know what your marketing goals are.

And product development teams–or strategic initiatives teams or whoever defines the services or products you will be marketing–also have to be clued in to customer service and marketing. This isn’t so marketing can gin up some language to differentiate weak products, but so new products are developed based on what clients are telling you they want.

The truth is that if you’re going to remain competitive, your marketing needs to focus both internally and externally. It has to be a big part of nearly every other department in your business. But first, it has focus on clients and prospective clients. You can pretend that marketing belongs in its own silo as an adjunct to sales, but your clients know otherwise. And they’ll prove it to you in the most painful of ways, by taking their budgets elsewhere.

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