In the start-up of a business, unless you’ve just invented the cure for cancer, you’re going to need to market or advertise. Truthfully, even if you’ve invented the cure for cancer, you’re probably going to have to market and advertise, possibly even more than normal. After all, you’ll have to convince the skeptics that you’ve invented the cure for cancer. Yet, to advertise effectively, you’ll have to develop strong marketing. Therefore, let’s analyze the difference between marketing and advertising. Then, I’ll dive into how to develop a marketing plan.
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners, those starting out and those in business for years already. Inevitably, when we talk about marketing and advertising to generate sales, I often hear clients say things like, “Marketing doesn’t work. Or they’ll say, “Advertising doesn’t work.” Newbies will often tell me that they can build a better business through word of mouth than they can with marketing. Similarly, some seasoned business owners will tell me about how many thousands of dollars they’ve “wasted” on advertising.
Well, maybe business owners can build a business with word of mouth alone. Additionally, maybe certain entrepreneurs did waste their money on certain advertising campaigns. However, I find it interesting that in 2015, Apple spent $1.8 billion on advertising. Now let me ask you a question. If seemingly everyone on earth knows the Apple brand, why would Apple spend $1.8 billion dollars on advertising? If advertising didn’t work, then perhaps one of the most successful companies in our modern history wouldn’t have spent $1.8 billion dollars on it. You see, Apple knows that there is a Return on Investment (an ROI) when you market and advertise. The ROI may not appear in the dollar amount you expect or within the time frame you desire, but there is a return on investment.
If large companies of our era are spending billions of dollars on marketing and advertising, what makes business owners say things like, “Marketing doesn’t work”? Could their negative experiences be a result of their lack of planning? Could their confusion between the roles marketing and advertising play within their business cause the negativity?
Oftentimes, I find that business owners don’t understand the difference between the terms “marketing” and “advertising.” In fact, many entrepreneurs use the words interchangeably. I’d even say that if you ask 20 business experts to explain the difference between the two words, you’ll get 20 different explanations. However, for new business owners operating on a shoe-string budget, it’s important to understand the difference between marketing and advertising. You must know that the words are not synonymous.
According to the online Business Dictionary, “Marketing is the management process through which goods and services move from concept to customer.” It’s the:
You see, marketing is a company’s long-term, systematic plan to convince customers to buy its products or services. Business owners and their team members design and implement marketing campaigns to package and brand their products. They do it to get their products in front of the right people. And ultimately, they develop marketing campaigns to convince customers to purchase their products.
Advertising is slightly different. According to the Business Dictionary, advertising “refers to the process of actually promoting your product or service to the marketplace.” Whereas marketing is the strategic plan to get products in front of customers, advertising is the actual promotion of the products within the marketplace. Your marketing team creates a message, and your advertising team distributes that message.
Neither marketing nor advertising is a new concept to business owners. You’ve heard these words. Most likely, you plan to use marketing and advertising in your business. I want to put a spin on the definitions for you, though. Financially simply put, marketing is planning what you want your company to be, not necessarily what it is today. Advertising is promoting your vision so customers will want to buy your products or use your services.
Marketing and advertising work together to bring in revenue. I believe you should promote your products so that customers in your marketplace recognize your company’s name and purchase your goods or services. However, you want customers to have positive things to say about your company when they see your name or encounter your products. As a business owner, you should want customers to feel good about the products and services they are purchasing from your company. For no matter how often customers see your name or come across your products, they won’t buy from you if you have a bad reputation.
If you know that marketing is the preparation, or planning, that needs to be done to get your product in front of your customer, let’s talk about how to develop a marketing campaign. Personally, I recommend taking 7 steps to develop a marketing campaign. However, you can take more or fewer steps in this process depending on your company’s needs.
In marketing, before you do anything else, start with your brand. What is your brand? It’s the colors, fonts, images, and logos you use. It’s what you want people to think about and how you want them to feel when they see your company’s logo. As marketing consultant, Kimberly Haydn says, “Branding is about so much more than what people see. It’s about how you make people feel.” Essentially, you want your audience to connect with your company. One of the best ways to do that is through branding.
For example, what do you think of when you see a red bulls-eye? Do you think Target? What comes to your mind when you see an image of a bull with wings? Red Bull, right? Do you recognize certain companies when you see a lightning bolt or a swoosh? Sure, you thought Gatorade and Nike! Most likely, I didn’t have to name the companies attached to the logos I mentioned. The images are interconnected with specific companies, and each image triggers certain thoughts or feelings in your mind. Do you think quality or athleticism? Do you think energy and hydration?
Obviously, companies’ logos are important pieces of their branding puzzles. The more customers see a logo, the more likely they are to remember a company and buy its products or services. Then, customers begin to associate a company with its brand. If the company that consistently promotes its brand to the public can also consistently provide valuable products or services, customers will likely return to the company for more products or services. Thus, not only do customers associate a company with a brand, they begin to associate positive experiences with the company and its brand.
Once you create your logos and qualify your brand, you want to concentrate on your customer. Ultimately, marketing centers around your customer, so you want to target a specific group of people. To target an audience, you must know the audience. Who are they? What do they do for a living? How much money do they make? Where do they shop? Where and what do they like to eat? What do they do for fun? Do they watch certain television shows or certain types of movies? If you understand your customers’ habits, you can advertise directly to them.
In my company Financially Simple, my content director and I created an avatar to represent the type of customer that could most benefit from what we have to offer. We named our persona “Frazzled Frank/Felicia” because the person we’re trying to talk to is a professional business owner and entrepreneur who is stretched too thin. Our Frazzled Frank/Frazzled Felicia customer has expert knowledge about their trade or industry but is having business issues… many financial. Frank and Felicia need help to look at their financial life holistically in order to take their business to “the next level”. Our target persona needs an objective third party who is knowledgeable in business and finances. They need someone to show them how to drive up their businesses’ revenue, increase their net worth, or lower their tax obligations.
After describing our ideal customer through this avatar, my team made a list of Frazzled Frank and Frazzled Felicia’s likes, and dislikes – their favorite restaurants, foods, TV stations, radio stations, social media channels, hobbies… essentially everywhere they spend their time and money. Thus, we can use our marketing dollars efficiently to advertise directly to them, where they are.
Once you know who you are targeting, make plans to advertise in places your customers will be. If you are marketing to female Baby Boomers, you’re probably not going to put an advertisement on a local rap station.
Instead, you want to develop a marketing campaign that advertises in places female Baby Boomers are most likely to be seen. Get your advertisements to appear on websites through which these women browse. Saturate the radio stations they listen to or the restaurants they frequent. Speak to church groups or ladies’ crafting groups. Use the information you uncovered about your avatar to develop a marketing campaign that will advertise directly to your target audience.
Not only do you want your advertisements to show up in the right places, but you also want them to show up during appropriate times. Perhaps you’re in a business that has seasonal products or demand-for-services like I was in my landscaping years. In that business, we were extremely busy mowing lawns, planting flowers and trees, fertilizing yards, mulching, and creating hardscapes during the late spring, summer, and fall. However, very few customers required our services during the bleak winter and early spring months.
Rather than marketing during those November through March months, we timed our campaigns to begin in late March and continue through October. That way, we could reach our customers when they would be most receptive to our products and services. Why would I advertise my mowing services in December if no one needed a yard mowed? How could I measure the success of a winter market campaign if customers would not use my services until a later date? When I advertised my company’s services during our peak seasons, I received more return on my investment than I could have if I advertised in our slow seasons.
When you are creating a marketing campaign, you want to get social. Many companies do that through online social media, like Facebook and Twitter, because they can measure the results of their campaigns. Obviously, you can advertise through social media channels. But when you are developing a marketing campaign, you want to concentrate on improving your website’s online rankings.
Although rankings and online algorithms fascinate me, I understand very little about them. Therefore, I rely on team members who are experts in this field. They know how to get my blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos to appear when consumers type certain phrases or questions into online search engines. My team tracks my standings and followers on my social media channels. Then, they adjust my tweets or posts as needed to increase rankings. They also revise the layout of my newsletters to increase consumer traffic to my website.
If you don’t know how to optimize your online presence through search engine optimization (SEO), hire someone who does. To establish and increase your social presence, you or people on your team must know how to drive customers to your social media and website channels. Not only that, you must know how to present your products and services in such a way that you maintain a good reputation within that online community.
Part of optimizing your social presence online and within your community is honing your company’s specific verbiage to your target market. Online, you can test keywords and meta descriptions to improve your content’s phraseology. Outside of the online community, you can spend money on word research. Ultimately, you want to identify which words will offend your customers, which will gain traction, and which will inspire consumer confidence. This type of audience testing reveals how customers will react to certain words you use within your advertisements.
As you create a marketing campaign, you want to research which words will help your audience connect to your company, products, and services. Using the “wrong” words can damage your reputation, just as choosing the “right” words can enhance your reputation and increase traffic to your business.
Finally, before you implement your marketing plans, make sure you can track your results. Remember, marketing is strategizing how to get your product ready to sell. It is setting systems in place to establish a social presence to reach your ideal customers. Before you can present your message, you must create it and prepare it for measurement. You will set up systems and methods to advertise your products to your target audience. Then, you will ensure those systems and methods offer a way for you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising.
Management consultant, educator, and author Peter Durcker famously stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Oftentimes, I find that people will throw their marketing dollars against a metaphorical wall to “see if they stick.” They advertise anywhere and everywhere without a way to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.
To prevent such flippant waste of your marketing dollars, use online marketing resources that track the results of your campaigns. If you don’t use online marketing, use your business’s Key Performance Indicators to track the results of your marketing campaigns.
For more indepth information about why a marketing campaign system is important to your business and how much money to allocate to one, visit my blog article Readdressing Your Marketing Campaign System for Business Continuity.
Now that you know how to develop a marketing plan, it’s time to spend your advertising dollars. There are hundreds of ways to do this. However, I’ll give you a list of my favorite 10 ways to get your business’s message into your marketplace.
Be sure to join me in my next article about the business owners’ time management!