5 Timeless Foundations Of Marketing

I was just glancing at Feedly a few moments ago to see what the headlines of some of the posts and articles in my feed look like to get a grasp on what people are thinking about, covering, or sharing and it seems like a lot of the old tricks are still on the menu.

Things like:

  • Trends that will definitely make 2021 rock
  • Everything has changed and here’s why your hair should be on fire
  • This is finally going to be the time when AR, VR, dogs as servers take over the world

The thing about this is that over and over, I have had conversations with folks and expressed the opinion that if I could just get folks to do some of the basics very well, we’d all be in a better position to be successful.

If the pandemic has taught any of us anything is that the basics are likely the only thing saving a lot of businesses.

As I see the mud fights of marketing Twitter take hold and all of this crap about the “New Normal”, I wanted to share a few timeless ideas that I hope continue to gain steam or get the attention they deserve over the coming months and years.

Market Orientation is key:

By whatever name you call this, the key is to try and see your business through the eyes of your customer.

In looking around Washington, DC, where I live, a town not known for service or innovative business practices, for, maybe, the first time ever, businesses have been put into a position where they have to look at things from the vantage point of the customers they want to serve and we’ve seen businesses actually meet the challenge.

I was walking in Eastern Market yesterday and I saw a wine shop hosting a wine tasting outside.

I was able to get a beer at BlueJacket that I could walk around the Navy Yard with.

My corner market will deliver my groceries using robots.

I know that other cities have done even more with the constraints to keep their businesses afloat.

But the core idea here is that you have to understand what your customers are dealing with and see the value you can provide through their eyes.

Strategy before tactics:

I loved the TikTok video of the guy on the skateboard with his cranberry juice.

I didn’t like the millions of hot takes about how TikTok was going to change everything.


Because we just don’t know that this observation is true.

There are a lot of reasons this is the case, but let’s look at the most pressing…Tiktok is about promotion. Promotion is one of the four Ps. You don’t get to the 4 Ps until you’ve spent some time figuring out a strategy.

Strategy first should be the rallying cry of every marketer that is worth their salt right now because budgets are tighter, uncertainty is higher, and the world can feel a lot noisier.

Strategy allows you to understand where you are going to compete, how you are going to win, what your value is going to be in the market, and who your customer is.

That’s strategy first.

Everything else, comes after.

Your strategy is a living document:

What do I mean by this?

I mean that you should have built in times and circumstances that you review your strategy, check your segmentation, revisit your targeting, and update your positioning.

I’ve learned to do that once a year, but I also recognize that this might not be possible for everyone.

You might want to check after a significant effort or tactical push where you don’t have a lot of data or you don’t have a lot of information to see where you are and to see if you learned anything new about your market.

That’s cool, but no matter what…every year you should be checking your strategy and adjusting accordingly.

Don’t discount:

I was able to bring up discounts recently and I still hate them.


They are a sugar high for bad marketers and the salespeople that think the only thing that matters is a sale at any cost.

Discounts undermine your brand value.

Discounts introduce the idea that you are a discount brand and if a consumer waits long enough, you might be willing to offer an even better deal.

Discounts often spark a price war and in a price war there aren’t really any winners.

Even in a market like we are living in now, don’t discount. If you do need to adjust your prices, make it a part of a smart pricing strategy or an adjusted pricing strategy built on what you have learned, but don’t discount.

Manage your brand well:

The way I think about brands is simple: your brand is the accumulation of all the good and bad experiences, interactions, and associations someone has of you or your business.

In this way, everything you do is branding and marketing and every decision carries a bit of weight.

This is why you need to spend some time thinking through what you want to be seen as in the market.

For me, I realized I’d allowed my brand to become a bit scattered and that I might be getting involved in far too many places where I didn’t have an interest or I wasn’t positioned as someone that can add the value necessary to make a dent in the market.

So I reigned my own brand in to talk about marketing, profit, strategy, and brand.

Your mileage may vary, but right now is a good time to take a step back and look at some of the basics of the brand you’ve built and the way you are thinking through your marketing efforts.

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