Just as web development has its own set of rules, so does marketing as an overall practice. The following guidelines are not meant to be all-encompassing or exhaustive, but they will give you a framework with which to enter into the field.
- Do not lie
While I have the greatest respect for Seth Godin, not all marketers are liars. The best ones are truthful and their respect for honesty is reflected in their customers' respect for the brand.
- Respect no-call lists
We've all been the victim of that annoying 7pm phone call that interrupts a family meal. As a result, many of us have placed our phone numbers on do-not-call registries. Respect these lists and let people who don't want to be bothered live in peace - they probably won't buy your widget anyway.
- Respect do-not-mail lists
The no-call rule extends to email subscriptions. If someone hasn't opted-in for your newsletter, don't send it to them. Likewise, if they opt-out, take them off the list.
- Be loyal to your market
Just because Harley Davidson can make and sell perfume, doesn't mean it's a good idea. Know who your target market is and be fiercely loyal to them. They'll thank you for it, both in words and in return purchase behavior.
- If it's not broke, don't fix it
Most people know the story of New Coke, even if they aren't old enough to have witnessed the colossal product management blunder. If your product is doing well, don't change it! I can't stress enough how easy it is to cause your own failure by trying to improve what's already successful.
- Stay on-message
It is very easy to try crafting one marketing message for one audience and a different message for another audience. If these two audiences are in the same market, though, you're walking a slippery slope. Consumers talk and share opinions — different images in the market mean you'll eventually be competing against yourself.
- Marketing is not a panacea
First of all, don't think of "marketing" as some ambiguous concept that will save your bottom line. Likewise, don't blame product failures on your marketeers. Marketing is a philosophy and a science, and is best performed in iterations. Keep this in mind as you move forward and plan appropriately.
- Apple was not built in a day
It takes time for smart marketing to pay off in the form of market dominance and rock solid mindshare. Give your messages the time they need to take root and water them from time to time. If done right, they'll yield fruit soon enough.
- Know your discipline
"Marketing" is an umbrella term for "creative development," "advertising," "branding," "sales," and a whole slew of other business-vital activities. Know which part of the tree you fit into.
- There's no such thing as a blueprint
Every business school will tell you there are unshakable principles on which marketing is based — rock-solid theories that will land any layman in the driver's seat of a major company. This is a lie, and fatal to those who believe it. Marketing is a way of thinking about products and customers and the connections between them — there are just as many 'rules' in marketing as there are kinds of markets ...