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Isn't marketing just a fancy word for selling?

If you were running a business in the 1950s you could be excused for thinking that. Times were simple, marketing as an idea didn’t really go much further than salesmanship in print, and today it still requires common sense and patience. But the real difference between selling something and ‘marketing’ it is that marketing is a process, not just an event.

Marketing is any kind of contact your business makes with someone who isn’t part of your business. It’s been called ‘the truth made fascinating’, but unfortunately it’s often not the truth and it’s even more often not very fascinating.

In the industries I’ve been involved in, high tech and knowledge intensive businesses, many customers and a lot of my managers think marketing is irritating stuff you do just because that’s what you do, not because it grows your business. I know that marketing is regarded by many as a ‘necessary evil’. But let me share some of the insights that I have gleaned over the years. For instance, I know that marketing is not any of the following: 

Marketing is not advertising. Just because you advertise doesn’t mean you’re marketing. Advertising is simply one of the hundreds of parts of marketing, and if you’re advertising you’re only doing a smidgeon of marketing.

Marketing is not direct mail. Mail order companies could be right, but the rest of us aren’t. You need a lot of other weaponry in your marketing arsenal to succeed. Direct mail is perhaps just one of the elements of the marketing mix that is right for you.

Marketing is not telemarketing. For business-to-business marketing, telemarketing is a great weapon, and together with advertising can really boost response. However, response rates are usually very low. And now with new marketing privacy laws in effect in Australia, the effectiveness of, and return from, tele-marketing can be marginal, at best.

Marketing is not brochures. Producing a brochure isn’t going to do anything without thinking what it needs to say, how to say it and combining this with a bunch of other marketing tools. Most brochures end up in the bin!

Marketing is not a website. And if you don't know marketing in the first place, you will probably lose a lot of money. Its part of the package, but it’s not the whole job.  

Marketing is not complicated. It becomes complicated if you don’t understand the simplicity of it.

Most importantly, marketing is not a miracle worker. It can never replace a great product in the right place, at the right time and at the right price. More money has been wasted by expecting miracles than by any other misconception in marketing.

Marketing does not guarantee sales. Sadly when there are cutbacks, marketing is usually the first thing affected. Why? Because it rarely, if ever, produces instantaneous results. It is seen as a cost rather than a revenue generator. Most people not au fait with marketing also expect too much too soon. They fail to understand marketing for what it is: an integral part of business just like manufacturing, accounts or purchasing. It is but ONE part of the bigger organisational picture.

Marketing, IS, however, the best investment you can make if you do it right, and doing it right requires patience and planning. And, take a long term view of your investment. Marketing works - if you give it a chance.

It is the art and science of getting people to change their minds.

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