Marketing elects politicians, destroys governments, creates leverage and disrupts the status quo.
In simple terms, marketing is telling a story about what you can offer and making it spread.
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 impressive.
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.
If you’re in business, you’re a problem solver.
Find the right people with particular problems and you’re closer to identifying and understanding how to talk to that market.
Otherwise, you’re 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 is a perfect example of marketing because everything about it, from the design to the pricing, is aimed at a particular type of person.
The pizza menu talks to a particular market.
Compare this to the 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 the brand identity, we realise 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 pixel width.
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’.
Set expectations and make a promise consistent with what you deliver. This is “branding” in the bigger sense of the word.
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 anyone or everyone. 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.
The research and analysis can takes hours, days, weeks and years to develop. Prior knowledge of what exactly you want to sell and to who results in better decisions and focused efforts.
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 on.
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 Purple Cow by Seth Godin, the author points out the problems with the average product lifespan and how marketing is often tacked on the end instead of being built in.
Why spend time and money trying to buy a large slice of mass market share when we could go more niche and be more specific about who we target? 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.
The traditional shotgun approach of the old school Mad Men advertisers is dying.
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.