Marketing has become a bad word in business. It’s right up there with “synergy”, “consolidation”, and “cost”. It has certainly received a bad rap over the years, but I’m here to tell you that you’ve been lied to! Everything you’ve heard about marketing and how it affects your business, regardless of its size, has been a bold-faced lie.
Marketing Is Not Advertising
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Marketing is the fact that people automatically think of TV commercials and radio spots. This is wrong. Those are forms of advertisement, and while they may play into the overall marketing strategy, they are just one small piece. Most companies never even spend money on forms of advertising, mainly because of its cost (another bad word).
Consider these two definitions by marketing expert Laura Lake:
Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.
Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.
To put it simpler, let’s think of fishing. When you are advertising, you are casting a wide net with the goal of catching whatever you can and whatever your net reaches. Alternatively, marketing is when you are tailoring your pole, hook, bait, and location to catch a certain type of fish.
While there is certainly some overlap between the two, they are in no way the same thing.
Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Another misconception with marketing is the fact that people are turned away by the fear of how much it’s going to cost. Most small and medium-sized businesses survive by carefully walking the line between profit and loss, so any additional expenses added in can easily scare them off. However, what everybody fails to notice is that marketing is designed around what you can afford and what fits into your budget.
Starting a marketing strategy or launching a campaign is not the same as buying a new delivery vehicle or getting new computers for the office. It’s not a fixed expense. It is fluid, and most importantly it is based around what your business needs and what it can afford.
If you are getting quoted a price for marketing before even talking with somebody about your goals or learns more about your business, turn and run! You are being sold a “cookie-cutter” plan that some “marketer” threw together once and is trying to keep capitalizing on. While there are certain merits to a time-tested plan, there is certainly no one-size fits all solution to marketing.
But again, this does not mean expensive. If your business only has $100 a month to put into marketing, there is definitely something you can be doing. If you are looking to get 1 new customer per month, you might be able to achieve that with a small plan that only costs you a few hundred dollars over the course of a few months. It all depends on your situation, your products, and your target customer.
Just don’t get scared away by the idea that marketing is expensive. It’s only expensive if you want it to be.
You Aren’t Going to Survive If You Aren’t Online!
While this does have a certain truth to it, it is most certainly not a set-in-stone fact. The digital age has given small businesses a voice for the first time in years, and it is absolutely beneficial to take advantage of the opportunity. However, depending on what business you are operating, being online might be an absolute waste of time and money.
Personally I am of the belief that every business should have at least some form of digital presence, whether that is a website or just being listed on Yelp or Manta. The time when people would use phone books and newspapers to find the services or products they need are long gone. Google has changed the game forever, and in order to succeed you do have to be present.
But being present and being actively everywhere are very different things.
Look at it this way. The local appliance repair shop doesn’t need to be tweeting 30 times a day, posting videos to Instagram, or writing 6 blog posts a week. Why? Because the customers that are looking for appliance repair services don’t care. When have you ever searched for a mechanic or landscaper and made your decision by how active they were on social media or by how intriguing that post on best fertilizers was? The answer is never. You found their listing online, maybe checked out a review or two, and gave them a call.
That is how the majority of businesses operate. We don’t all need to be experts at social media marketing and active 24/7 online. So don’t worry if all you have is a website or your business listed online somewhere. There’s a good chance that is all you need digitally.