What does your business want most? Sales, of course. But the only way to get sales is to make sure that as many people as possible know about your business and what you sell. No one doubts what McDonald’s sells because you see the signs, the ads, even the specifically-designed restaurants everywhere you go. Most businesses can’t be like McDonald’s. But regardless of your size, most of the marketing and advertising lessons that apply to the “big guys” also apply to your business
So what is marketing and what is advertising?
First of all, marketing and advertising are not the same thing.
- Marketing includes all the activities you do to promote your products or services. If you think of marketing as a pie, then advertising will be an important slice of that pie.
- Advertising is one of the components of marketing that you pay for. Paid advertising includes activities like billboards, online and print ads, print “advertorials”, transit ads, even broadcast ads on radio or TV.
Most small businesses do some kind of advertising. Perhaps you have ads in a local publication (like Beaches|life), or you run digital ads offering a special “neighbourhood discount”. These are good advertising activities and they sell your products or services. You likely even have a budget for advertising each year. Good for you! But there is more to do.
Marketing is a more difficult task because it involves many activities, and you don’t typically see a direct result. This is because marketing includes all the thinking, planning and research you do BEFORE you pay for ads or even create your website. The term marketing, therefore, can include public relations, brand development, events, social media, direct mail, email and advertising. All share the same messages but present them in different ways.
Marketing and Your Brand Story
Another way of looking at marketing is through your brand. Marketing helps you develop your brand “story” so that the right customers find you, and you can find the right customers. Understand, target marketing and target audience is critical when promoting your products or services. For example, if your business provides support services to seniors, your target market is seniors and your target audience will be the seniors themselves and their children or caregivers.
Your Marketing Budget
Businesses, large or small, need a budget for marketing, even if the budget just covers your time to plan. For smaller businesses, this may include setting aside a planning day once a year to analyze your target customers and then creating a 12 month “to do” list. You also need at least an hour once a month to review sales results and adjust, if needed, your marketing activities (such as ads, website updates, flyers, etc.) If you are large enough, you may want to bring in a marketing strategist to help you build a plan for the year.