What really are advertising and marketing, how are they different, and why are they important to your small business?
According to Wikipedia, “Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service.” And Wikipedia says about Marketing, “Marketing theory and practice is justified in the belief that customers use a product or service because they have a need, or because it provides a perceived benefit.” Ok, so there is an official, net definition.
We know Advertising, as all the interruptions that string together our favourite TV shows, and what we hear mostly if we listen to commercial radio while driving around in our cars. Marketing for many of us is a bit more of a mystery, done in the back rooms and secret labs by used car salesman types, who actually went to college. Simply, Advertising is a shotgun approach, or, lets throw the spaghetti up on the wall and see what sticks. Marketing, hopes to introduce you to a product or service you know about and enroll you in your need for that product or service.
I’ll assert that most consumers today are victims of advertising, wandering around blindly not really knowing why they purchase and use the brands and products they have in their possession. Consumers or your customers, wander into the grocery store and are faced with 240 different types and kinds of Salad Dressing and a 16-20′ food wall of Bread or Milk. I’ll also assert that much of what the majority of products we purchase have simply become commodities, and have no distinction to us.
I was recently employed in a small business, less than 10 employees, that has been around for seven years. The family owned business has seen a 30-50% drop in their business in the past year. Instead of looking at how to stand head and shoulders above the other 300 businesses in this market, this owner was intent on looking like and becoming more and more like all the other businesses. Not only in the local market, but also looking like and doing business like all the other same business operators throughout the country. The business owner then wonders aloud to his employees, why things aren’t getting any better.
So what’s a Small Business owner to do? As a small business owner, you know your clients almost intimately. You know their likes and dislikes, birthday’s, anniversary’s, soda and radio station preferences. I’d assert you don’t need to advertise to your core clients, save that for those who aren’t aware of what you do, or what you have to offer. Instead, begin a conversation with your clients. Yes, talk to them and find out what is working and what isn’t working in your business relationship with them. You might be surprised at the response to your conversation.
I hope that as a small business owner you’ll look to your network and your social networking tools to grow your business. Yes, you can survive and thrive in these current times.
Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions, and enter into the conversation I’ve started.
Paul resides in Denver with his wife and 2 cats. Paul is a former, Radio DJ, and Program Director, Television Program Director, Public Affairs Officer, Speech Writer, Award Winning Radio Spot writer, Computer Tech, Event Producer, and Customer Service Guru. He can also be found on many of the social networking sites as : paulswansen.
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