Many people confuse marketing and advertising, even those who perform these tasks for businesses. It is important that as a business owner you understand the difference. Both of these activities can help your business, however, using them interchangeably could harm your business.
Let’s define the two first:
Advertising – this is a paid promotion of your business, its products and services. It gives potential consumers an idea of what you do and where. This can happen in many different venues. For example, television, direct mail, radio, ads in newspapers or magazines. All advertising is good. However it may not be good for your specific business.
Marketing – marketing is designed to reduce the cost of sales. It is charged with bringing your business a specific number of new customers on a consistent and sustained basis.
Now right now you may be saying “what is the difference?” It is a fair question.
Advertising makes people aware of your existence. It describes who you are to a potential market and ultimately a group of markets you wish to provide product or service to. When you advertise it is important to know your target market. For example, if you provide professional services you want your advertising to get in front of the maximum number of professional people who will purchase your service. This means qualified buyers and not simply a bunch of people.
When evaluating advertising it is important to get the right answers to the following questions:
Who are we specifically targeting with this advertising?
Is the target a user of the medium we are choosing?
Will the target user be drawn to our advertising?
Why are we choosing this medium?
When is the best time to use this medium for our advertising?
How will we measure success?
When measuring success remember, it is not necessarily the number of people who will see your advertising, although that is important. It is the number of right people who will see your advertising. Advertising is a sub set of marketing activity…it is not marketing.
Marketing is the strategy or process that you use to obtain potential new customers. It involves many different things. Marketing can include research, pricing, target identification and so forth. Marketing must also be diverse. Why should diversity have anything to do with marketing? Because if you are focused on a single group of buyers, or a single location, you are placing your business at the mercy of that group. A lack of diversity can harm your business significantly. Consider this scenario; In 2006 you had two customers in the automotive industry. You were making a lot of money and did not want to consider selling your product to other industries because things were going well and you were happy where you were. Well in 2008 the industry had a significant down turn. What do you think happened to your business? If the automobile industry isn’t what you want think real estate or financial services. Think of all three’s impact on the total market. Diversity in the industries you serve could have prevented your company from failing along with your customers. The next time we have an industry down turn diversity in marketing will be your safety net.
Your marketing strategy should include measuring results. This is not the place to focus on how many clicks your website got, how many views your ad got or how many flyers went out in the Sunday paper. That is a part of your advertising efforts. This is where you look at the effectiveness of all the components of your efforts. Is your pricing appropriate? Are prospective clients and customers approaching you in any way about your product or services? Have you identified the right target buyers or industries to approach? What industries or markets are you not seeing results from that you should be? Why?
Marketing is a process that involves a lot of work. For that matter advertising is a process that should also involve a lot of work. All should be focused on results. It is hard to accept sometimes that activity is NOT always results. Activity is just a bunch of things happening. When 100,000 people see your advertising that is activity. If you achieve no sales from that activity you have no results that matter but you have activity. Your marketing strategy and efforts will ensure your advertising efforts are successful. IF you don’t confuse marketing and advertising you can utilize the two to make your business highly successful.
A successful marketing strategy reduces the cost of sales to your organization. It keeps your potential business pipeline filled with new opportunities; it does not focus on existing customers. Advertising is a tool that you use to make your marketing strategy effective. It must partner with your marketing strategy and not simply be popular. Advertising must deliver results for YOUR BUSINESS and not simply for the Advertising mediums business.
If you put this all together you are well on your way to achieving sustained success for your business. Do not, however, buy into more leads equal more sales equals better business. That isn’t necessarily true either.