There’s more to marketing than just advertising

Do you run a small business and hate marketing? Then don’t read this.

I recently read an article on a prominent small business advisory site that made my eyebrows raise, and not in a good way. The piece was titled ‘Do you hate marketing? You’ll love this’, and before I started reading it I knew the author was mixing up marketing, as an essential function of a business, with marketing communications or advertising, or one of the components of marketing.

The general gist of the article was how you can stay true to yourself and market without compromising your beliefs (?), and the key message is captured in this line – ‘.. I’ve noticed that many soloists who find the idea of marketing confronting either procrastinate over it or avoid it altogether, thus limiting their ability to grow their businesses’. Here’s a tip, if you run a business and avoid ‘marketing’ altogether, then you need to sell up and find a job working for someone else. Preferably not in marketing.

Marketing a business involves so much more than just placing an ad in the local newspaper or turning up to a networking event. Yet, in my experience, I have found it fairly common for small business owners to think advertising & promotions is marketing. What they don’t realise is that there are many other components of the business that fall under marketing in its truest definition (referred to as the P’s) . You will hear these business owners complain that their ‘marketing’ isn’t working or they have to cut their ‘marketing’ budget to make ends meet – and this is where a lot of small businesses stumble. Complaining that your ‘marketing’ isn’t working when you think it only refers to advertising or promotions means you are overlooking other components of the marketing mix that may be bringing your business unstuck. For example, your product may be wrong for the market, it may be priced incorrectly, its packaging may be impractical or your distribution strategy is flawed,  worse still your service is terrible and people don’t like doing business with you. If any of the marketing mix elements is misaligned with your target market, then no amount of ‘marketing’ is going to work because guess what, your market is just not that into you.

However, if you get your marketing mix right and you are delivering to the market exactly what it wants, guess what, you won’t have to do much advertising & promotions, as your market will do it for you and you will very quickly find yourself with a strong brand.

So, before you complain about your ‘marketing’, take a look at your business as a whole. Reassess how you are going about your business and make sure you are 100% across the following:

  • Target market – do you know who they are, what they want and how they want to get it? Is your product or service aligned?
  • Price – is your product or service priced too low, too high or completely out of synch with market expectations?
  • Positioning – is your product or service pitched correctly within this total market and to the right market segment? Does your price, packaging & distribution model support this?
  • Packaging – does your packaging complement the product and or service you are offering, is it cheap when the goods inside are meant to be premium? Is it hard to open? Is it adding too much to the shelf price of the product? Are you selling in bulk when the market wants single serve?
  • Place – are you selling your product or services through the right channels? Is your retail environment off the beaten track, with limited passing traffic? Is there ample parking? Do your consumers prefer to purchase online?
  • People – do you have the right people in place to sell your product? Do they align with how you are positioning your products or services?
  • Promotions – are you talking to your target market through the right channels, using the right language? Is there a smarter way to connect with your market?

Only once you have undergone a thorough assessment of your total marketing mix can you blame one aspect of it, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s your promotional activity, when it could be something more fundamental to the success of the business.


About Zena Churchill

Zena Churchill is a Director at Max & Buddy Consulting. She has worked in senior level business roles across national and multinational corporations, as well as being a small business owner. Zena is a strategic thinker and brings a practical, straight-forward approach to marketing and social media. She has a passion for training & development running practical business workshops for small business. Zena is a Certified Practising Marketer (AMI), sometimes tutors in Marketing at the University of Wollongong and is a Senior Consultant with Trinity P3.

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