Author: Don Sexton
Year Published: 2006
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The Donald’s newest initiative is Trump University, a series of e-courses, online lectures, and books devoted to real estate, marketing, entrepreneurship, wealth creation and management. Not surprisingly, Trump has hired some of the business greats to write books and teach courses that will provide you with the tools to succeed if you don’t have time to get your MBA.
In Marketing 101, Columbia University business professor, Donald Sexton, provides a crash course in marketing basics. The book is broken into 29 chapters divided into 5 parts: How to Build a Powerful Marketing Strategy, Improving Your Marketing Strategy, Implementing Your Strategy, Understanding the Numbers, and Making Sure Your Marketing Strategy Succeeds. In most chapters, there is a brief case study on how a company (usually a Trump affiliate) applied one of the marketing principles to make their business more successful.
Trump sums up the key to marketing success in his personal statement at the beginning of the book.
I believe passionately in my products and the high quality I provide my customers. That is the foundation for all my marketing. That passion should be the foundation for anyone in marketing. You must truly believe in your product and its ability to satisfy your customers if you are going to succeed in marketing.
From the get-go, I was impressed by this book. Though it’s written by a business professor, it doesn’t come off as an impractical, theory-oriented book from an academic. I have an MBA, so I’m well aware of the classic marketing paradigms like the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion) that most marketing textbooks promote. Sexton debunks these concepts on page 10, stating that these don’t work very well because they assume the 4 Ps are all equal. They’re not. Product is most important. The Ps also marginalize strategic decisions like targeting markets.
Sexton also quickly debunks the common misconception that marketing is just about “tactics” – advertising, packaging, sales, public relations, internet marketing – and emphasizes that strategic initiatives – understanding customers, identifying and targeting segments, designing and positioning products and services, and understanding the marketplace – must come before tactics for your marketing to be successful.
If the strategy is wrong – wrong target market, wrong positioning, and wrong target competitor – then it really does not make much of a difference how great the advertising or selling or distribution or pricing is, the product or service will fail eventually. In fact, the more effective the tactics the quicker a poor product will disappear. There is a saying in advertising: If the product is poor, great advertising will cause it to fail even faster – as more people are persuaded to use it, more people will find out that they don’t like it.”
Sexton defines marketing as “managing perceived value.” Perceived value is “the maximum a customer or prospective customer will pay for your product or service.” From there, he describes how to craft your marketing strategy (“the blueprint for how you will allocate your resources to achieve your business objectives”), segment your market, build your brand, execute your marketing campaign and then measure results.
One of the recurring themes of the book was its focus on measurement. Sexton explains, “If you cannot measure something, it is impossible to manage it,” so he offers numerous ways you might measure or at least estimate how successful your marketing is. Sexton is all about collecting data and using tools and analysis to put things into perspective. What that means is that each decision you make is based on sound reasoning rather than spur-of-the-moment “what should we do next?” ideas.
As a marketing consultant, one of the biggest issues virtually all prospects are grappling with when they call me is “which marketing materials work best?” The answer is that it depends on who you are targeting. This book does a fantastic job of guiding business owners through the process of segmenting the market, choosing a target based on their needs and your ability to provide for their needs, and coming up with a way to meaningfully differentiate yourself from your competitors. Sexton even walks you through the process with an example of how a small real estate company might do each of the tasks but any company that offers a product or service will surely benefit. This is not limited to Fortune 500 companies.
The book is a self contained blueprint for crafting and executing a marketing strategy. Each chapter invites you to visit trumpuniversity.com/marketing101 for review questions and to download the worksheets for the chapter. Sexton intermixes marketing theory with his own methodologies to create an extremely practical book. He also does an excellent job of explaining why businesses must take a strategic approach to marketing rather than simply focusing on tactical execution.
In my experience, many small business owners either 1) don’t see a point to crafting a marketing strategy or 2) glaze over at all the research to be done and data to be analyzed once they do realize the benefits. Sexton keeps each chapter extremely accessible and explains difficult concepts clearly so that anyone can understand the what, why and how of each step.
That said, it is fundamentally a framework for managing your marketing strategically, so he doesn’t hand-hold you through the tactical execution. There are chapters on advertising, personal sales, public relations, internet marketing, and other tactics, but they focus on how to run strategically focused campaigns rather than the step-by-step execution. If you feel you need that, I recommend you pick up a book like Guerilla Marketing in 30 Days or Guerilla Marketing for Consultants as well.
Marketing 101 should be required reading for any entrepreneur looking to start or grow a business. Once you have these basics down, executing your marketing campaign is more effective – and easier!