Marketing elects politicians, destroys governments, creates conversation and disrupts the status quo.
In simple terms, marketing is talking to your ideal customer and telling the story of what you offer.
Selling your products/services depends on positioning your business in the right place, at the right time, at the right price.
Marketing used to be about broadcast style advertising… which is expensive and no longer as viable.
Today, it is about engaging with your audience through stories that resonate and travel.
Before reaching and engaging your customers you need to undertake some research and planning.
Who Are You For?
Ask Average Joe who their business is aimed at he’ll tell you “Anyone”. He hasn’t decided exactly who he wants to sell to.
His story, narrative and language doesn’t exist, but as a business, Joe is a problem solver. Until he gets specific about what and who he wants to sell, he’s just a hammer looking for anything resembling a nail.
Understand Your Customers
Proper planning leads to identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer problems.
Supply and demand is about what customers want/need.
A pizza takeaway menu on your doormat is a perfect example of marketing because everything about it, from design to pricing, is aimed at a particular type of person.
Compare this to a menu on the table of an expensive restaurant and you’ll instantly know the difference between the two markets.
What’s a Brand?
If we think about brand identity, we could say it is an outward expression reflecting the inward values held by the consumer.
Knowing those values, aligning yourself with the consumer and communicating your business philosophy forms the brand.
Although design is essential, branding is not necessarily a logo, pantone colour or website style.
Design serves the brand, not the other way around.
Make a Promise and Keep It
On a more basic level, a brand is a promise. It is doing what you say you’re going to to, when you say you’ll do it.
Ideas, the brand, how you communicate, the design, print process, measuring effectiveness, market research and the psychology of consumer behaviour all count as part of the bigger picture of ‘marketing’.
Setting expectations and making a promise consistent with what you actually deliver is “branding” in the bigger sense of the word. Will my takeout pizza be hot? Will the restaurant glassware be clean? These basic business operations need to established before going online to tell everyone how great you are.
The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising
Marketing and advertising are terms often used interchangeably, but they’re quite different. Advertising is single component of the overall marketing mix.
Advertising is a paid for, public, non-personal broadcast announcement of a message intended to persuade or influence existing and potential customers.
This promotion of products/services should be regarded as an important cog in a bigger machine.
The marketing process consists of advertising, market research, branding, design, copywriting, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, logistics, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement.
Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses think of marketing and advertising as the same thing. They’ll place a print ad in the classified section and cross their fingers, hoping to reach someone. The message being broadcast is often broad and unremarkable – it tastes like chicken.
Recognising your audience and then having a conversation with them is a marketing strategy.
Is Advertising Dying?
Although advertising will never die, it is changing and will always be around in some form.
What might be more relevant is the discussion of the media formats advertising has traditionally existed within.
To quote the music producer and technology evangelist Brian Eno, “TV murdered itself.”
Television content is intermittently disrupted with commercial sponsors wanting to persuade you to buy something, and these messages are generally less targeted and more expensive.
With the internet and subscription media channels seriously threatening TV broadcast advertising, we see the pragmatic advertisers finding new avenues to reach their market.
In Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, the author points out the problems with the average product lifespan and how marketing is often tacked onto the end – an afterthought – instead of being built in.
Why spend time and money trying to buy a large slice of mass market share when we could go be more specific about who we target? The conversion rate is better, and the campaigns cheaper. Let’s actually do the marketing: that is to say, research the things that are broken or not working, and find interesting ways to offer solutions, one customer at a time.
The traditional shotgun approach of the old school Mad Men advertisers is dying. It choked on its own vomit a long time ago.
Yet still, many (many!) bad marketers cut without measuring. Throwing stacks of cash at business models based on conjecture only adds to the noise of the internet.