The other day I had a phone conversation with a potential new client who desperately needed help building his failing business and finding a new direction to take it to.
As we talked, I asked him how he is currently marketing his business, what has he done in the past, etc. His answers were almost painful to hear.
He had fallen into the trap of “I’m too busy to take care of marketing” when he had business and the revenue to support a marketing effort, and now that business is at a dead halt, he has no pipeline, no marketing experiences to fall back on and worst of all, no budget to do anything with.
His reasoning for not doing any marketing was that he took out an ad several years ago; it didn’t work, so he never did it again.
Sadly, I see this happen to so many small business owners. The idea that marketing and advertising is the same thing is an incorrect assumption.
Let’s start with some basics:
Think of marketing as an umbrella and each spoke is a slice of the marketing pie that all fits together to form a marketing strategy. Those spokes may include advertising, website, acquisition, public relations, packaging, distribution, slogans, sales promotion, pricing, sales, retention, customer service, logo, uniforms, follow ups, even how you answer your phone and the associations you belong to. The most accepted definition of marketing is soup to nuts – everything it takes to get a product or service into the hands of the end user when they are ready to buy.
Confusing marketing with advertising can be fatal and very expensive. To begin advertising without having a solid platform of what your company represents to the consumer, what your competitive benefits are, and EXACTLY who your target market is will always result in a failed advertising effort and therefore wasted dollars. Advertising is a mass form of communication used to sell your product. But it is not the only form and may not be the right platform for your business, especially if it is a specialized product or service.
Because of the high cost of advertising, it should be left to companies who have a proven business and marketing model. Why? Taking out a one time ad at a cost of $1000 is not effective. On average, it takes 3-5 touches for a consumer to make a purchase decision (if you are selling to other businesses it may take even more). If you have a $1000 budget, you are much better off running a smaller $250 ad four times. This accomplishes what is known as frequency which is the proven way to move consumers to a purchase decision.
In addition, because most small business owners do not have a marketing background, they almost always fall prey to selling features instead of benefits. Think of this example, if you told me the ingredients in a new shampoo, would I care? Most likely I couldn’t even pronounce many of them. Instead, if you told me it would make my hair healthier, shinier, cleaner, curlier, softer, etc. THEN I would be more likely to buy it because I now know what it will do for me. In other words, I know the BENEFITS.
Often I review existing or prior ads that have been used by my clients and 99% of the time I see this malady. Because they are so close to their product they know what goes into it, but not why people buy it. This is why their ads didn’t work, especially if they did just a one time placement.
Here’s a fun but powerful exercise to try for yourself:
Turn 3 features of your product or service into benefits. For example, “weights less than a pound” would be stated in all marketing and advertising as “lightweight and portable”.
Once you have the benefits down and know the right way to implement marketing and advertising, you are well on your way to creating an impactful, successful campaign that will drive revenue to your bottom line.