What is Marketing?

We often hear about marketing and when we own a business we know it’s something we are supposed to do, but what is marketing?

Marketing is the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over your competitors; if you are not doing that you are not marketing. It’s really that simple! The key is finding the right method and defining the right message to use to educate and influence your consumers.

For example you could use blogging to tell your customers why what you sell is their best option. This is done extremely well in the medical space here by an online doctor.

Companies make the mistake of thinking that marketing is just “one” thing, but marketing is everything that the consumer encounters when it comes to your business, from advertising, to what they hear, to the customer service that they receive, to the follow-up care that you provide. It’s all marketing and creating the decision within the consumer whether or not to choose you initially or for repeat business.

The activities of marketing are often confused with advertising and sales, but it is important to realize that there is a difference.

It’s difficult to start a business, let alone learn how to market it. It’s not uncommon for new and small business owners to find themselves in the marketing role and quickly becoming overwhelmed. Don’t worry, I’m here to help. There are marketing basics that are important to every small business owner. Marketing is not an expense it’s an investment and it’s important to have a clear understanding of where to start investing. If you can get this, you are one step ahead.

Let’s talk about the basics, shall we? By the end of this series, you’ll have a clear understanding of not only what marketing is and why you should do it, but you’ll also be well on your way to creating your own marketing plan. With a plan in hand and a basic understanding, you will have taken the risk out of where you’re putting those marketing dollars.

There are so many definitions that describe marketing as small business owners understanding what it is can leave us confused. We hear about sales, advertising, public relations, and marketing. Is there a difference? There is a difference and when that difference is understood it’s easier to understand what tasks should be handled by specific roles within the company and under the specific actions entitled marketing. Good marketing is critical to the success of any business and understanding what it is will help your small business get started on the right foot.

Why Marketing is Worth the Expense
Many companies view marketing as an expense. The truth is when a business understands the importance and the role it plays in growing a business it’s clear on why it should be considered an investment. Marketing is crucial when it comes to gaining the attention of prospective consumers and clients, developing products or service demand and turning those prospective consumers into customers. Marketing has an effect on your sales, pricing, promotions and your advertising strategies. When understanding the importance of marketing you can use it to promote the ongoing transition of your services and products to the consumer; this can create success in your small business.

Understanding Market Research
Market research helps you to determine how your product or service will be accepted among different demographics. This information can help you in establishing which segment of consumers will have an interest in your product and services and ultimately end up purchasing from you. You can use market research to gain specific information such as determining the age group, gender, location, and income level of potential customers that you should target using your marketing message. Market research enables you to create a marketing plan for your small business that is not only effective but also cost efficient.

Why Marketing Research is Important to Your Business
You’ve done your homework and you’ve invested time in marketing research, so why should you care about marketing research? There is a difference, let me explain. Market research gives the information that you need regarding the market. Marketing research is delving into the behavior and buying habits of a specific segment that you have decided to target and ultimately it saves you money in by helping you avoid costly marketing mistakes. Learn why it’s important and how you can use it to create effective marketing strategies for your small business.

Why Consumers Buy What They Buy
Our marketplace is changing, we see this in the spending habits of consumers as well as in the economy. Consumers are looking for something more than a flashy ad or attention grabbing commercial when considering where to spend their hard earned money. Learn why consumers buy what they buy and how you can influence their decision.

Marketing a Product vs. Marketing a Service
Marketing a service is different than marketing a product. There are certain things you need to consider and different steps you need to take in order to help the consumer feel comfortable. Learn what you what you need to do differently in order to market your service effectively.

What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan serves as a roadmap when it comes to your marketing initiatives. It details the success route that you will need to follow to get your small business noticed by potential customers. A detailed marketing plan will show you what to do and help you understand why you are doing it. It will also help you navigate away from the marketing and business mistakes that will cost you money, time and future growth potential. As a small business owner equipped with a marketing plan, you will feel more organized, have more confidence and a clear vision when it comes to your marketing goals. Put in simple terms a marketing plan increases your chance to achieve the business success that you desire.

Creating a Marketing Budget – How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?
Determining how much of your resources to marketing within your company can be one the biggest obstacles that businesses face. It can also be a key component that can make or break a business. There are guidelines that will help in allocating your resources, learn what I recommend when it comes to marketing budgets.

Marketing Trends for the New Decade
How will your business do in the next decade? I think that all depends on how you market and the relationships that you create and cultivate. It’s time to pull those marketing dollars back that aren’t working for you and begin to invest them in ways that will give you more of a return. If you are ready, what are you waiting for? I give you my Marketing Predictions for 2010 and the decade that follows – out with the old and in with the new.

How to Persevere With Small Business Marketing Until It Pays Off
It often happens that a small business owner does not persevere with their marketing plan. This happens for various reasons and small business owners often give up too soon. Learn how to persevere with a set marketing plan and chosen marketing strategies, until it pays off in the end

business. There are guidelines that will help in allocating your resources, learn what I recommend when it comes to marketing budgets.

Create a 90 Day Marketing Plan
If you’ve never created a marketing plan, I also suggest that you try doing the 90-day plan. It is less intimidating and helps you to focus on the short-term need. You can also focus on the immediate needs of the company. There are many benefits to creating a 90-day plan. Learn how a 90-day plan can keep you on target and help in your overall master planning.

Learn from Others – How I Started Marketing My Small Business Series
Marketing a small business can prove challenging at times; especially in rough economic times. However, many companies are finding success by utilizing new techniques to market their small business. These strategies may include social media marketing, online marketing, traditional marketing and even direct mail. I’ve asked my readers to share their stories on how they started marketing their small business in hopes that it will inspire, motivate you and make you think of new ways to market that you had not considered previously. Learn how others started marketing their businesses and share your own story.

 

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is basically a bunch of promotional activities that create a positive public image of a company.  It’s often referred to as media which is earned. It is vastly different from marketing even if you can’t see it. Not to worry, we’ll explain.   Effective public relations helps the public understand exactly what wonderful things a company has to offer.

Whether you’re the president of your local Chamber of Commerce or the President of the United States, you use the same methods to communicate your message to the public.

The essence of public relations is to inform and persuade the public. However the goal is not to do this one person at a time. How, then? You do it by the thousands or millions through newspapers, radio, television, and the internet. And nowadays, with print going “away”, T.V. ads being surfed through, and radio ads having less and less impact, the internet is truly your best place to reach the masses.
Certain people such as  professional athletes, elected leaders,  rock stars and actors, need public relations firms to handle the daily deluge  of media requests. But any organization, however, big or small, can use the same tools to get out their message.

Earned Media versus Paid Media

There is a difference between marketing and public relations. Marketing is about convincing  people to buy something, typically via advertising campaigns. Advertising campaigns cost you money while  public relations is earned.

You should always add to advertising campaigns with good public relations even if it’s just free information via blogs or Facebook posts. That’s why public relations professionals talk about “earned media.” You don’t put up banners on websites-instead you earn media coverage.

But earned media goes both ways. Just as you can earn positive press coverage for good things, you earn negative coverage for bad things. How you handle bad things really matters. Remember Bill And Monica? It wasn’t the “act” that impacted Clinton-it was the lying and the cover-up. It was classic “bad P.R.”

How You Earn Coverage:

Here are some of the tools in your P.R. toolbox:

  • To persuade and inspire: letters to the editor, speeches, guest columns, radio talk show appearances, TV appearances.
  • To inform: press releases press conferences, fact sheets, or town hall meetings.
  • Multimedia: websites / blogs, photos, charts,  film clips, radio public service announcements and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google-plus and more.

Informing versus Persuading in Public Relations

When your goal is to inform people about an issue, public relations is really quite a bit like journalism.

When you’re trying to persuade, public relations depends on both persuasion along with a hefty dose of rhetoric.

Anyone Can Do P.R, really!

If you’ve never done this kind of thing, it might seem a little scary to pick up the phone and call a newspaper editor, or to give a speech in front of a live audience.

However, anyone can learn how to “good P.R.” You just need some time, effort and desire to succeed.

Good public relations can turn a new business into a whopping success, or take a dying business and breathe new life into it. It can take a small group of concerned people and turn them into a force to end discrimination against the LBGT community.

Myths about Public Relations

You’re exposed to the success of public relations every day, in every medium you can think of. You have TV cable news, TV in general, newspapers (albeit mostly online), radio, magazine and social media. Never have so many public figures been in the public eye in so many different ways at the same time!

Yet public relations is still more art than science. There are many misconceptions about PR that are seriously wrong.

The most common myths about public relations:

  • PR is All about Press Releases and Press Conferences

“Press release” and “press conference” are the two phrases that P.R. clients and bosses know.

This is bad if you’re the client. Why? Because press releases are over-used and quite often the wrong advertising tool for the job.

And to continue in this vein, a press conference reserved for the biggest possible event.  If you hold press conferences all the time, reporters will stop showing up. Public relations today is an always-changing field, with more and more happening in the social media sphere such as blogs, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Tweets.

 

 

  • Any Press is Good Press

 

The idea being that any publicity is good and  that just getting your name out there for no particular reason is positive is just plain wrong.  and breaking through, is a benefit that outweighs any negative content in a story. This is not only a prevalent myth, it’s a loser for a business strategy.

  • Publicity is Free and Easy

We all eat meals. That doesn’t mean you should hire your neighbor to cater your next clients-only dinner party. Not when your competition is using a trained chef and catering service. The competition for good public relations is rather stiff.

Most organizations are trying to get free media coverage. Most public relations professionals are experienced people who used to work at newspapers, TV or radio stations. So have the best possible person doing the job – or if you do it yourself, study up and talk to the pros before you dive right in.

  • You Need to Hire a Pricey PR Firm

For many individuals, hiring an expensive PR firm is just plain not an option. The budget isn’t there. But there are other options and learning and studying and doing is a good one.

Once You Break Through with Publicity, You’ve Got it MADE!

Think of how many tunes other than “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”/”that guy” did. One-hit wonders are common. Musicians can skyrocket to the top then crash back to earth. The tough part for musicians, or  any public figure or organization, is steady success.
So let’s say for example you did a hilarious viral video and got a million hits, or wrote the most amazing press release and newspapers all over the world picked it up. Bummer alert-one big media hit is just not enough.

  • Only Bad Products Need Publicity-Good ones do Just Fine without it!

Even if what you’re doing is innocent — puffing up a bad product while ignoring your good products — that’s an odd and unproductive strategy. You want people to know about your very best product. It should be the centerpiece of any publicity or marketing campaign. Never, ever puff up a bad product while ignoring good ones.

Saving PR only for bad products means will consumers will think that your good product must be as crappy as your pumped up bad product..

  • Only Ex-Reporters Can Do It

In public relations, there’s no professional license exams to be passed. The profession is growing, as the demand for more and more information grows. There are more public relations jobs in entertainment, business, politics and more.

Organizations all benefit from communicating with the press and public, and they’re doing it in tons of different ways. Now they have Social Media, TV, radio, and everything associated with Websites.

  • PR Means Controlling the Press

If you want coverage, just  tell a reporter to NOT cover a story. You can’t control the press. Public  relations is about communicating with the public and the press in a smart and effective way.

 

  • Public Relations is Spin, Slogans and Propaganda

No, think about it- propaganda is when you use information to manipulate people to do something  that’s not in their best interests. It’s usually the tool of a demagogue state, used along with fear and censorship. Public relations pros avoid spin and propaganda techniques.

Today’s audience is quite sophisticated, and there have never been this many sources for  information. A lot of public relations is just plain making life easier for busy clients and journalists.