Recently I was asked by a prospect to explain the difference between advertising and marketing. It made me realize that marketing really is a mystery to many small business people.
Advertising is one part of the marketing function. It’s the part where you use different means (like TV or online ads, postcards, etc), with words and pictures to make impressions with customers. But, communicating you message is only one part of the customer finding process.
What do today’s suspicious buyers really respond to?
Marketing is a process that starts by assessing every business activity from the customer’s prospective.
- At the planning stage we design our product or service for ease of use and customer appeal.
- We examine our customer base to create an accurate profile.
- Armed with this information we develop provocative and bite-size resonate messages that customers and prospects are likely to respond to.
- We convey these messages through a variety of means so the message can be heard over the din of the market. This includes traditional advertising, the web and email, social media (like Facebook and Twitter) engineered word of mouth, free publicity, and much more.
- We build relationships by properly directing our sales staff and other employees to focus on serving the customer and becoming ambassadors of the brand.
- We do it all without shooting from the hip. Instead we engineer the customer experience by creating a thorough marketing plan based upon an unbiased examination of the internal strengths and weakness of the firm. We also assess the external opportunities and threats presented by market trends, innovation and competitor activities.
- And, we do it consistently (when busy and when desperate for business).
It’s all marketing… It’s never been more important and it’s never been more difficult. If your small business ($1 to $25 million), doesn’t have a qualified marketing prospective represented within the mix of talents that make up your organization (professional firm, manufacturing, service company), then consider developing a mechanism to better connect with the people looking for what you are selling.