What Is Functional Marketing? (5 Best Practices)

Marketing is important for the successful growth of any business. Without it, you’re never going to grow at the speed and scale you desire. Too often businesses take an ’emotional’ approach to marketing, pursuing campaigns and methodologies that are doomed to fail. Functional marketing is about practicality and pragmatism, which gets results.

What is functional marketing? 

Oxford languages (Google) defines functional as ‘designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive, and defines marketing as ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services. Therefore, functional marketing is promoting and selling services or products through methods that are practical and drive results, rather than appearing to do so.

Why is functional marketing important? 

Functional marketing is important because it helps achieve the purpose of marketing – generating revenue. Marketing that isn’t functional doesn’t drive this result and is therefore ‘malfunctioning’. 

Let’s use website design as an example of functional marketing.

Example #1 

This first website has beautiful colors, incredible animations and clean graphics. It’s pleasant to look at and well-designed. The issue is that it’s not functional. This website is aesthetic, but it doesn’t guide users through the buying journey correctly.

Example #2

This website isn’t that pretty. It doesn’t have very nice animations or graphics. However, it is very functional and easy to navigate. Users know what the website is about and what is being sold, and it’s straightforward for them to purchase from.

In an ideal world, a great website is functional and beautiful, but if you had to choose between both examples, clearly, the functional website is going to be more effective at marketing products or services and driving revenue. 

This example here illustrates the importance of functional marketing. The priority in all forms of marketing should be to facilitate the function of marketing’s highest purpose – increasing revenue.

This principle applies to all forms of marketing, whether it’s search engine marketing, email marketing, and web copywriting.

Best practices 

1. Data is your friend

Data is key because it helps increase ROI and sales. Understanding marketing data allows marketers to better understand how their marketing campaigns are performing and what needs to be improved.

Without having a data-driven approach to marketing, you’re guessing what’s going to happen. When you take a data-driven approach to marketing, you’re using numbers to make decisions, which leads to more predictable results. 

For example, which blog topics on your website are getting the most engagement? Which PPC ad variations are providing the best ROAS? Focusing on the data helps you make better decisions moving forward about what to change or keep the same.

2. Function over feelings

Let’s say you’ve been posting blog articles about a specific theme for weeks on end, and these posts aren’t leading to more conversions for your call to action. Then, let’s say you try a new topic one week, and you get a return two times higher than average.

You then go back to the posts you were publishing before because you liked the way they suited your ‘brand personality’.

Clearly, it’s more ‘functional’ to go with the posts that are achieving better results, even though it’s not about topics you like the most. This is an example of choosing function over feelings, which should be the priority for any marketing campaign.

3. Understand the 5 p’s of marketing 

Understanding the 5 p’s of marketing is essential. These are the foundation from which marketing is planned and executed.

Products

Products are the services or goods you sell. A good product adds value to people’s lives, whether that’s saving them money, entertaining them, etc. The benefits of the product should be the focal point of your marketing campaigns.

Price

Price depends on different factors such as demographics, operational costs, competition, brand image, and more.

Place

Place is where you sell your products (e.g on a Shopify store or in retail stores). This is important to know so that you know where to focus your marketing campaigns.

Promotion

Promotion is about advertising and promotion strategies. This is about understanding how to use promotional techniques that suit the product being sold, pricing model, and audience.

People

People is about… people! Every marketing plans needs the right people in, sales, content marketing, customer support, and so on to work well together for projects to succeed.

4. Start with the end in mind 

Why is deadlifting a functional exercise for someone who is struggling to carry their grocery bags? Because deadlifting will strengthen their muscles and help them lift bags in the future.

Why is consistently posting blog content functional? Because it will help you rank high in search engines (if done right) and drive more targeted traffic.

Whenever you start any marketing campaign, start with the end in mind, more free trial sign-ups from blogging? Great. Increased revenue from PPC ads? Awesome. Set clear goals and break down the functional steps to get there.

5. Know your customers

The most important part of marketing is knowing who you’re marketing to. This is the underlying principle that makes everything work. Why does specific ad copy perform well? Because it’s written in a way that speaks to the right audience.  

You’ve heard it time and time again, but building specific personas for the people your products and services are for makes every aspect of your marketing more likely to succeed. 

You should know details like their geographic location, goals, challenges, age, gender, and more. The more detailed and specific information you have, the more personalized and effective your marketing will be.

The bottom line

To succeed at marketing, stay functional and practical. Practically will serve you well, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. 

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t get creative and break the rules to get your product or service out there, but there are some fundamental principles of marketing that are there for a reason, such as making data-backed decisions and understanding your customers well.

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