What Isn’t Marketing?
Sometimes eliminating what something is not helps provide clarity to what in fact it is. Such is the case with marketing. So much has changed in the landscape of marketing that it is not uncommon for people in business to be totally confused as to what marketing is and if they are doing it at all, much less correctly. Many small business owners I have talked to and worked with are horrified that they are not.
So let’s start with a list of the 10 things marketing is not:
- Shopping Cart
- Vision Statement
- Value Proposition
- Call to Action
- Fan Page
- Elevator Speech
So called “Marketing Gurus” have confused a level of expertise or the ability to spell a particular mode of online promotion with actual marketing. This is quite easy to do if you don’t know anything about marketing in the first place. Hapless business owners equally clueless on what exactly marketing is are rich fodder for the clever snake oil salesmen. No talent required when your target market is dumb people with money.
We could say something easy like marketing is:
But that would be equally inept. It presumes certain prerequisites that most business owners have not even thought about. Either through ignorance, laziness or that some idiot convinced them that success was a product of passion. What works in the bedroom does not play well in the board room.
No amount of marketing can help you if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. No value proposition is going to help if you don’t know the market. Your elevator speech might as well be Muzak® if you don’t know the competition. A vision statement without a strategy is as worthless as an understanding with Kim Jong Un.
A strategic plan and business plan are the prerequisites for any successful marketing campaign or dare I say marketing plan. It’s not that I’m anally retentive planning addict. The fact is that I am probably the least organized terminally ADD afflicted person I know. I just put whatever focus, concentration and logic I can muster into planning when it comes to business. It’s a money thing. I don’t like to lose it or for anyone looking to me to manage theirs to lose it either.
Perhaps I should take the old adage about a fool and his money to heart and maximize my own income at the expense of others. Fortunately or unfortunately, I wasn’t raised that way. So I marshal on shouting the virtues of planning and the dependency of effective marketing on a company strategy and business plan. Shouting at people when they’re on the verge of rapture when in the throes of entrepreneurial passion is decidedly unpopular.
Marketing is dependent upon knowledge. Promotion, i.e. all those clever internet tricks we thrive on, is dependent on strategy. Without that, there’s no product, price, target market and compelling value proposition in the form of differentiation, niche/focus or price leadership. In short, content. No content, no website. No content, no blog. No content and the list goes on and on.
The last vital truth on marketing is that it is all about making money. The snake oil salesmen will want to sell you the finest website money can buy, the slickest brochure imaginable, design events that rival .com Christmas parties and SEO you to the poor house. Marketing is ROI driven. Startups in particular need to be guerrilla marketers. Marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot.
Effective marketing is based on solid strategy, planning and coordinated campaigns with specific purpose. It doesn’t all have to be perfect. And the next time a Guru tells you that everything going to the marketplace will reflect of the quality of your promotional material and you must spare no expense. Put all that pent up passion to good use and let them have it.
Dr. Philip Kotler defines marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.” If you’ve ever taken a college level course in marketing, you’ve read one of his books. The definition implies a lot of work. Business success is a lot of hard work.