The Truth About Marketing: Back to Basics

I’m going to be writing a series of blogs called The Truth About Marketing. I’ll be sharing my experience on the good, the bad and the ugly as well as myth-busting and sharing some top tips along the way. The first in this series is all about the basics. What is marketing really about? And what is it not? Read on to find out.

Defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products and services, including market research and advertising”, the word marketing originates from the Latin for ‘buy’. In today’s world, that process is a little more convoluted than it once was, because we no longer go to market to buy, instead we use a multitude of channels to find out what’s on offer, we know all about the competition, we want a bargain and, most importantly, we want to know who’s behind the product or service we are interested in.

The Four P’s – Product, price, place and promotion

When you study marketing, you’re taught about the four P’s. This is a great grounding as everything we do still addresses one of these areas. However, because of the way we do business, and because of the sheer number of different businesses in existence today, there isn’t really a set formula for marketing.

The marketing truth? Do what works for you and your business.

Supply and Demand – marketing isn’t a tick box exercise

There’s the art of persuasion for a start. Because a lot of what we sell today is a luxury or an optional service, a ‘nice-to-have’, we first need to convince our audience that they need what we sell. As my son was answered when I asked him what I do, he said “you convince people to buy stuff”.

We all understand the concept of supply and demand. This is the simple economic rule that if people want something, they will pay a price for it. It’s also about how readily available that product or service is: if something has limited availability, and people want more of it, the price may rise. Known as a seller’s market. We often need to go out and create the demand for our product or service. Our lives are continually changing, and innovative businesses are coming up with more and more ways to make it easier, more fun, better for us and so on. Launching a new idea means letting people know what you’re selling, what it does and why they need it.

The marketing truth? We need to convince our audience that we have what they need.

Routes to Market – these marketing options are many and varied

That’s why we need a plan these days. Doing things blindly, investing here and there in scattergun marketing activity, is very unlikely to yield a return on our investment. Because of the convincing I mentioned above, we need to tell a story. Our story will hook the right audience and lead them to the conclusion that they cannot live without whatever it is we are offering. We need to create ideal client avatars; understand where and how they are buying; tell them about our reason for being; and do the convincing to get them to buy.

The marketing truth? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Marketing is for the long term and you are in it for the long haul

The bottom line is, for small businesses, marketing can feel like a minefield. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially because many business owners don’t start with the basics. They post a few bits on social media, maybe run an advert somewhere and hope that they’ll get an order or enquiry.

The marketing truth? This might work, but it’s unlikely to be sustainable.

To build a successful business, you need to start with a plan. This will identify the right approach for your product or service. It will help you prioritise activities, so you don’t become overwhelmed and you still have time to actually deliver your business.

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