Most people think of marketing as selling, and to some extent they are correct. Selling is about the transaction and that’s certainly an important part of marketing. But to me, marketing is much more.
It’s really about communicating. It’s about letting fellow parking professionals know what’s special about your organization; letting prospective customers know what sets you apart and why they need to work with you; letting potential partners know what value you can bring to a relationship; and letting parking industry stars know why you are a great place to work.
Like all successful communication, marketing is a two-way street. What you learn is just as important as what you say. Too many organizations make the mistake of thinking that marketing is about controlling the dialogue. They create their messages in a vacuum and then force-feed them to their audiences.
It’s essential to be constantly listening to your audiences so you know what they want when you are developing your products and services and creating sales strategies. Paying close attention to what your audiences are saying also lets you know where you stand so you can adjust your messages.
From a marketing perspective, there are a number of ways to encourage your audiences to engage you. On a micro level, one-on-one communication with customers and influential parking leaders can provide invaluable feedback. Also, pay close attention to industry publications such as The Parking Professional as well as publications in other industries with an interest in parking, to keep up with what your customers and competitors are saying. Parking and other industry conferences also provide valuable opportunities to keep up with the most important issues affecting your customers.
Social media also promotes two-way communication. It allows organizations to engage their audiences and receive direct feedback. LinkedIn and Facebook, for instance, allow readers to respond directly to posts while Twitter permits re-tweets and response tweets. These and other social media platforms have changed the landscape, and you should take advantage of this new dynamic.
Ultimately, marketing, like any other type of communication, requires give and take to be successful. Make sure you are listening as much as you’re talking.