As many of you know, since selling my B2B software company two years ago, I’ve been splitting my time between teaching at Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and assisting B2B companies with marketing strategy, research and go-to-market planning.  As my good friend, Graham Anthony, says “It’s good work if you can get it.”

For me, my work as a teacher and as a business consultant compliment each other well.  I enjoy both – for different reasons.  In teaching, I find satisfaction in helping students.  Sharing with them what I’ve learned over the years. Watching them learn and grow.  Witnessing them find their way in the world.   I also find a sense of community in being a part of a university.  A university is a special place.  I enjoy the camaraderie of my faculty colleagues.  And I’m humbled by how hard it is to be a really good teacher.

In consulting, I find satisfaction in helping companies solve challenging problems.  The work is intellectually interesting.  I find inspiration from the leaders of the companies I work with.  And, I accept the work with an understanding of the impact business decisions have on people’s lives.  I am also humbled by how hard it is to be a really good advisor.

I find that I often use my business experiences in the classroom, and my teaching experiences in the boardroom.

This week we had a really good discussion in my Principles of Marketing class.  This class is required of all students pursuing a major or minor in business.   The topics of discussion in our first week of class were ‘what is marketing’ and ‘what is the role of marketing in business’.

I’ll share with you a few of the talking points from these discussions:

  • Everything in business revolves around sales.  Everything you do in marketing in some way influences or assists in the overall sales effort.
  • Marketing is the management of all activities necessary to create and maintain mutually satisfying buyer/seller relationships.
  • Conditions of a Sale 1) Two parties must have something of value the other wants or needs. 2) The buyer must be aware of the seller. 3) Must be perceived as a fair deal by both parties. 4) Both parties must trust each other.

Notice in the first bullet point above, it doesn’t say that ‘sales is the purpose of business’.  That’s a philosophical discussion better left for another day.  It says that ‘everything in business revolves around sales’.  Which is to say that everything in business begins with the customer.  I believe this to be true.

As each of you searches for ways to grow your business in 2016, I offer these simple classroom talking points to trigger conversations within your organizations.  You may agree or disagree with these points, but hopefully theses marketing topics will stimulate meaningful dialogue as you seek to identify and deliver unique solutions to your customer’s problems.