A lot of people confuse the terms “marketing” and “advertising” and often think they are the same. This can be a costly mistake since businesses spend hefty amounts to advertise their products or services.
Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large. All of these things put together make up your marketing strategy.
Advertising can be defined as the activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as by paid announcements in the print, broadcast or electronic media. This means advertising is just a piece of the marketing mix. A comprehensive marketing plan should direct your business on how and where to spend your advertising dollars.
Before you spend money, answer these questions:
• Who are your customers?
Consider demographics such as age, gender, educational level or income. Take a look at psychographics such as attitudes, behavior, lifestyle or hobbies. These things can help you define your customers. This is the most important thing for you to know. Every business doesn’t sell to everybody. Who are your people?
• What do these customers want, and can you provide that?
Are they looking for great customer service and high quality? Maybe they are looking for value for their money. In this case the customer perception of value is more important than whether the price is high or low. Given our hectic lives, many of us are looking for simplicity. How easy is it to do business with your company?
• How much are your customers willing to pay for your product or service?
Ninety-nine percent of us have a tipping point where we say how great something is but are not willing to pay the price. Disposable income has dropped and people will price shop, but there is generally a range of what they are willing to pay for a product or service. Where are you in this range?
• Who are your competitors?
There are two types of competitors. Direct competitors are selling the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell something different but are in a related industry and are competing for the same dollars. Think about recreation — movies or bowling? A customer will make a choice to spend their money at one or the other.
• What is different about your product or service?
Have you found a niche? What do you do or offer that is unlike and hopefully better than others in the market? If you are exactly like everyone else in the market, you will be forced to compete solely on price, and the majority of small businesses can’t do that and survive. Do you offer something brand new or have you improved on something existing?
Advertising is just part of your overall marketing plan. Once you have a marketing strategy you can create an advertising campaign designed to get the right product to the right people at the right place at the right price.
Plan thoroughly and spend wisely.
Becky Brownlee is a business consultant with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center at Georgia Southern University. If you need marketing assistance, research or other business guidance, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-651-3200.