One of the biggest costs to a small business is advertising, yet its true benefit is often misunderstood. It’s also often mixed up and interchanged with the word ‘marketing’. Advertising and marketing are not the same and it is important to know the difference.
There are many forms of advertising, including online, print, radio, television, email, direct mail, placemats, coupons, outdoor billboards etc. It’s a communication to evoke some sort of action: to visit your store, for example. It’s a promise and communication from your perspective.
Marketing is the bigger picture which encompasses everything that leaves an impression in the mind of your audience. It may not always be directly under your control. To be effective, advertising must work in unison with other parts of the marketing strategy so you can build trust with your market by consistently delivering what you promise.
What do you market? Your unique brand
Every individual moment that leaves an impression in the mind of your audience is called a ‘touchpoint’ and is also known as a ‘Moment of Truth’. Together, all of these should match your brand and they all drive your marketing message. These touchpoints include the conversations and language you use on social media, the way your receptionist answers the phone, the delivery style of invoices, the style in which your staff network and the reviews other people write about you.
Here’s a quote I love from my old mate Mahatma Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Although not really meant for marketing, it’s a good reference point to remind us that all of these aspects should be in sync to be an effective organisation.
The best benefit of a brand and the pinnacle of good marketing is the momentum you get when word-of-mouth matches the messages you want people to hear. It doesn’t always have to cost money and more often than not it’s the experience that creates the marketing message rather than the ads you run.
5 tips on marketing and advertising
- Don’t advertise until you clearly know your overall brand—that’s your vision, purpose, promise, personality and point of difference. It may take you time to work this out, but doing it is a simple reference point for all future communications. When you proof an ad make sure it resonates your brand values and vision. Essentially these brand foundations determine how you are relevant in the lives of your consumer and should also feature in your ‘elevator speech’.
- Advertising is not a quick fix. By advertising something that isn’t a true reflection of what you’re offering, you may accelerate negative word-of-mouth. If you’re having trouble keeping customers, then some of your touchpoints might have problems. Work those out first before you attract then turn off more people!
- Run a touchpoint analysis and think about every item that leaves an impression in people’s minds. This will make sure the customer experience is driving your marketing message positively and any advertising you do will accelerate good stuff!
- When you advertise be sure to place strategically. Don’t fall for the trap where a TV station account manager offers you 500 bonus spots in ‘run of station’. Instead, make sure you’re going to where YOUR target audience is likely to be watching. One of the negatives to advertising in the wrong spots is that you also attract the customers you might not want, who take up time and resources but don’t actually become great customers. Just because the news gets a large audience doesn’t mean your likely best customers are watching it. Put yourself in the mind of your customers to be in the right place at the right time.
- Take your name off it and see if it still oozes your brand. I’m not just talking about your ads but the experience too. It’s a good test to see if you’re really infusing your brand or just slapping it on!