We speak about marketing so much yet sometimes reading or talking about marketing with people and entrepreneurs you get the feeling that what they understand about marketing is advertising. This distinction is important in the digital space where either through misunderstanding or misconception I’ve heard practitioners speak about clients who just wanted their posts boosted on social media. The purpose of marketing is lost on many people and it is evident in the quality of some of the communication we see. How do we fix this misconception and move towards better marketing practices in our small businesses
Marketing definition and meaning
Marketing encompasses all the activities involved in promoting or selling goods and services including market research and advertising. Marketing is therefore not one question but many questions grouped into one activity. Marketing asks what do we sell? Who do we sell it to? Where do we sell it to them? how do we sell it to them? Why do they buy it from us? It deals with many variables including the product, the people and the processes. So when we talk about your businesses marketing, how well do you think you’re doing?
In formal education, we are taught about the marketing mix. The 4Ps of product price place and promotion. What this should immediately tell us is that those four elements are variables which are determined by our findings and not concepts set in stone. For example, a tomato may be a tomato anywhere it is, however, if you choose to sell your tomato in a particular place where they are scarce or incomes are higher you can achieve a higher price for the same tomato. Yet we very often see an approach that says something different. How did you arrive at your price? How did you decide on the sales channel? The promotions you run?
The marketing mix was extended beyond the traditional four elements to include another three. In response to changes in the way business was done and the factors surrounding it we now have people, physical assets and processes added in it. This also considers the fact that these things are becoming more important. Consider a business selling online. The processes of ordering, fulfilment and delivery now become important elements of their marketing mix as do the people (skills) involved in these processes. If you decided to start selling online these factors matter very much in your marketing. You cant go and claim 48 hour delivery time unless you have the strategic capability in people, processes and physical assets.
It’s marketing but digital. Well, not quite but digital marketing still plays by the same rules. Finding your market or niche and positioning your product for them. What is different are the tools and the amount of feedback the channel offers. Digital marketing still answers those same marketing questions and perhaps in some cases does so better.
For the small business person, there’s a book I’d like to recommend called Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. Levinson has a unique approach to marketing that encourages small businesses to use what are considered their weaknesses as their strengths as is done in guerilla warfare. He puts forward that marketing education is focused on big businesses with huge budgets and while it works great for them, small businesses that copy this may do so at the expense much more useful methods available to them. The book will broaden your mind on the idea of marketing for small and big businesses.
It’s still all marketing
If you put all of the marketing questions together they boil down to asking where do we fit in? That’s really what marketing is about, making sure you reach or are found by the right people, in the right way at the right price. It is as much an exercise in listening as it is in broadcasting. Just remember which comes first.