Marketing or Advertising

Some small business owners confuse the terms “Advertising” and “Marketing”, thinking that are interchangeable. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding frequently results in spending money with no success or with purely luck-based minimal responses from media outlets that do not yield the benefit they could or should.

Advertising is buying space in a media outlet, and filling it with content appropriate to the outlet. Marketing, on the other hand, is knowing what you do, clearly and succinctly understand the benefit you provide to your customers with your products/services. Marketing is the path the business will follow in the next 12 to 36 months. Marketing, is quite a different and much more methodical and measurable approach than merely Advertising.

Some small business owners don’t understand the difference at first. This is sometimes due, in part, to lack of knowledge It may also be due to the pressure media reps impose in order to earn their business, or frequently, the small business entrepreneur is already consumed with the practicalities and the passion for his/her trade overlooking key aspects of marketing. Sometimes the demands of time, attention, energy and money already weighing on the small business owner results in their lacking the willingness and patience to learn, to understand and to embrace these concepts.

When business owners are already enjoying the cash flow that comes from the successful delivery of products or services over time, and they see no need for any further action they ignore the relevance of marketing. Conversely, sometimes when small business owners are facing financial stress during start up or cash flow crunches, they sometimes throw money at capricious “advertising” schemes that they believe or have been sold on, thinking it will be a quick fix for brining them a windfall or customers and revenue.

The question that the small business owner must stop and ask him/herself is but is “is this approach really it solidifying my base or growing my business in a manner that is cost effective, and that really works to sustain or grow the business at the rate and in the way that really fits with my plans for my business in both the long and short term? This implies a clear understanding and strategy that the business owner may need assistance in developing and clarifying in order to engage in effective MARKETING.

In marketing we ask questions, many questions. Sometimes these can be annoying questions. Ultimately, though, for effective marketing, we must enjoy an understanding beyond the quick and the obvious. In marketing, we even classify our questions as “primary research” or “secondary research”, as “quantitative”  vs. “qualitative”. We endeavor to glean the smallest details about our customers such as their age, income, the distance driven to the place of business, the customer’s experience, expectations, the frequency at which the customer uses products or services. With the advent of social media and big data tracking, we can go so far in endeavoring to understanding and reach our customers as to know, for example, the last two most visited websites in the last two weeks by our customers, detailed by hour and by product.

Marketing endeavors to gather and communicate information that ties the business goals with the customer to maximize the potential of the transaction in the exchange of money for good and/or services.

A good marketing strategy will have first gathered information directly from and related to the business owner–where does the business is heading; where is the business succeeding; where is the business hurting; how the services or products are delivered, processed and received. Marketing involves making an assessment of the commonly known SWOT  (Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). A marketer is responsible to develop a plan which can be accurately measured and fine tuned in the short and long term. One aspect of this overall understanding of the business and its goals as it relates to its customers is advertising.

As you can see, Advertising and Marketing are quite different. Advertising without a marketing plan is, frankly a waste of money–much as gambling. Marketing is engaging in the fastidious but fascinating exercise of understanding and capitalizing on the dynamic relationship between a business and its customers.

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