One of the questions I get asked a lot by clients and students, as well as one of the areas I see a lot of confusion around in the small business marketing place, is:
“What is the difference between Marketing and Promotion?” and
“Should I still be Marketing and Promoting my business during Covid-19?”
So, in this blog post I will answer these frequently asked marketing questions and more, to help you grow your business in a relevant way in 2021.
Let’s start with answering “What is Marketing?”
Marketing is the umbrella term for the artform of reaching:
- A targeted group of people (your target audience)
- To tell them about your business
- Build that group of people’s trust
- So that they know about how your business can help them and turn into customers
In a nutshell – marketing has one goal:
To get as many people as possible to know that you exist, and have the confidence that you have the solution to their problems so that they either buy from you, or refer others to buy from you.
Marketing is your way of ensuring that you are not a “best-kept secret”.
Because no-one can buy a secret!
Underneath the umbrella term, Marketing, there are a number of other terms, subsets and channels for helping you achieve this number 1 goal.
These terms and methods include:
- CONTENT MARKETING:
Using high-quality content such as blog posts, videos, infographics, downloads, etc to attract, educate and convert your clients
- DIGITAL MARKETING:
Using digital channels such as display ads and paid search engine ranking to reach more people.
- SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING:
Using social media channels to attract, educate and convert people.
- EMAIL MARKETING:
Using email to nurture, educate and convert clients
- AFFILIATE MARKETING:
Using partners to market and sell your products/services for you.
- REFERRAL / WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING:
Getting customers to market and sell your products and services for you
Sales plans and events designed to help convert your followers and leads into customers
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What is Promotion?
As we can see from the list – Promotion forms part of marketing.
The goal of marketing is general and is largely about brand awareness.
The goal of promoting is the act of making a specific offer to your audience, to convert them into a sale.
I think it’s best thought of as a two-step process.
Because marketing is general, it can be difficult at times to see a direct return on investment. When you are running a promotion you can easily work out your return on investment based on how much you have spent vs how many things you have sold.
Now that we’ve cleared up that difference, let’s answer some other frequently asked questions:
Which one should I focus on for my business – marketing or promotion?
It’s important to understand that marketing and promotion work in tandem with each other, and you should be doing both in your business.
All businesses should have a Marketing Plan – a plan to help you build brand awareness, and grow your audience.
All businesses should also have a Promotion Plan – this plan layers over the top of the marketing plan and is designed to help you make more sales (or profit).
The two plans need to be designed to work together and complement each other.
Where should I start?
The first place to start is by getting clear on your target audience or “dream client”.
One of the mistakes that businesses often make, is being too general in their message. This means that their business marketing gets drowned out in the noisy noisy marketplace.
To stand out and grab attention, your business needs to speak to your dream client’s problems, and educate them with your solution. If you do this you’ll stand out because it will be like you’re speaking directly to them.
This means getting clear on your brand.
Your brand is so much more than a logo and includes:
- How you look to your potential customers
- How you sound to your potential customers
- How you make your potential customers feel
- What you promise to deliver
- How you look after your customers once they’ve purchased from you, and deliver on your promise
Many businesses struggle with this process, but, it’s the very first thing you need to focus on and get nailed.
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What should I do next once I have my target audience defined?
The next thing to do is to get clear on how you can help people and create both a marketing plan and a promotion plan.
Start by thinking of your customer pathway – this is the journey people go on from the minute they hear about you, to when they stop being a customer.
- What does that look like visually?
- What steps are involved in educating people, nurturing them, and converting them into clients?
- What parts of the process can you automate?
What do my marketing and promotion plans need to include?
Your plans need to include:
- Details of WHO you are targeting – as we talked about above
- WHAT you are offering in the way of a solution – how you can help people
- HOW you are going to offer that – list all the strategies you need to take to make it happen
And most importantly – you need to assign metrics so that you can measure whether your plan is working.
- What is your financial goal?
- How many people do you want to reach?
- What is your expected conversion rate?
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Is it always appropriate to market or promote my business – e.g. should I still be Marketing and Promoting my business during Covid-19?
As I write this article we are right in the middle of the Covid-19 global pandemic so understandably this is on everyone’s minds.
In general, I would say yes.
If you can solve a problem for people – and they still need that solution, then yes you should absolutely still show up, tell people about it, and help people solve this problem.
What does need to change during Covid-19 is how you deliver that message.
This is not the environment for a hard sell (not that I favour that approach in any environment).
More than ever we need to meet our customers where they are and:
Listen before we speak.
Serve before we sell.
Even if all you do right now is aim to widen your audience and build trust with new people, that is beneficial to your long-term business success.
If the time to launch an offer isn’t now, then that’s fine, don’t do it.
But, perhaps it is.
Perhaps what you are offering is really useful right now and you should still continue helping people with your offer.
In which case you should still promote it.
Use your discretion.
But don’t assume that nobody has any money to spend at the moment.
Money is tight-er overall. Yes.
But it’s still true as ever that if you have a valuable solution to people’s problems, that they will still value right now, then you still have a market.
Should I discount my prices during Covid-19?
I would ask yourself these questions to check:
- What is your business model?
- Will discounting your prices hurt your business in the long run?
- Will I end up doing more work for less money by discounting?
- Was I planning on running a promotion now anyway?
- How could I add additional value instead of discounting?
- How can I deliver the best solution for my customers right now and meet them where they’re at?
For 10 alternatives to discounting, I recommend reading this post here by Denise Duffield-Thomas, money mindset coach.
I hope that’s all been helpful!
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About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).