Advertising Versus Marketing – Why these two words are not interchangeable

Over the last few weeks I’ve discussed networking in the community and building referrals.  This is essential to any business. However, advertising and marketing must also be a part of your mix.  Many people think that advertising and marketing are the same thing and create a single budget line for the “promotion” of their business. Yes, the end result is the same, which is to build your client base, but these two things are very different. Marketing is the overall strategy of which advertising is a part of. Marketing your business includes memberships to local business organizations, creation of promotional products and collateral material, participating as a vendor in a business expo. These things help keep the name of your business out in the community on an ongoing basis. The likelihood of these strategies assisting in the making of a sale today is not as strong as the advertising portion of the marketing plan. Advertising is a paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message that presents its products to existing and potential customers.

Again, advertising is only a piece of the pie of your overall marketing strategy, but an extremely important piece, nonetheless. The difficulty comes when deciding how much to spend or how many components does your advertising need to contain. The answer will differ from business to business. Some will say to spend a fixed percentage of gross sales on your overall marketing, although that makes it a real challenge to start a business and spend close to nothing on generating new clients. My suggestion is to have as many components as possible, keeping in mind that the real key is to be sure that it’s affordable long term and can provide you with consistency simultaneously. Sure, we’d all love to buy television commercials and reach the most eyeballs at a given time, but your average small business owner cannot afford that consistently on an ongoing basis. Look at the area that you serve.

Is your goal to attract clients within a three to five mile radius of your business? Then, maybe a direct mailing to the entire local community is a component. Perhaps you are a destination location and serve an upscale clientele. In this case, you have to reach further than the radius around your store and attempt to reach individuals with a certain criteria. In this case, you don’t want to be in every mailbox because this will create a higher percentage of waste.

Whatever elements you choose to utilize, you must reach your potential clients again and again. Doing a direct mail one time and not getting the desired response does not mean that it does not work for your business. There are many opportunities to put your message out to your perspective market. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be first. Just because it seems that “everyone” in your industry markets via a specific medium, that does not mean it will be effective for you. Try new things where your competition does not already have market share. They may end up following you, in which case you’ll need to have your next move in mind.

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