All businesses, great and small, have one commonality – the need for people to think about your brand. It’s the oxygen of business. No cars can be sold or sandwiches served without your brand popping into someone’s head first. So what makes people think about your business? Contrary to misguided belief, your customers are not thinking about you at all hours of the day. In fact, probably never on their own. They’re thinking about themselves – just like you. Humans are hardwired this way.
The good news is you can break into their brain box through marketing and advertising. Yep, this stuff really works. But isn’t marketing and advertising really the same?Aren’t they just different channels to broadcast your brand story? While most definitions conflate the two or offer some gobbledygook aimed to confuse, the reality is… no!
Marketing is promotion to your existing customer base. Channels include customer email lists, social media, in-house marketing materials, word-of-mouth and other avenues that speak to or utilize your existing customer base. In other words – you know who these people are. The purpose is to generate repeat business and brand loyalty, right? Yet it’s a critical function that’s typically done half-measure by many businesses because it requires dedicated resources (they may not have) to do well. Because of this, customers leak away faster than they might otherwise, putting pressure on the business to develop new customers to grow or even stay afloat. And make no mistake, no business keeps all (or even most) of its customers over time. Well, perhaps except this guy. Attrition is as guaranteed as death and taxes.
Advertising is promotion to new customers. Even the best marketing plans will endure lost customers. And no, you’re not a household name. That’s why successful advertising is the lifeblood of nearly every successful business. From the plumber who gets his leads from the Yellow Pages (yup, still a thing for older folks!) to the boutique who gets a first-time walk-in because her friend emailed her about a beautiful dress she saw in a local magazine ad. Advertising tells your brand’s story (why a customer should care about you) to brand new people and touches former customers who have fallen outside of your marketing efforts.
It’s a noisy world out there with tons of choices for consumers. Quality marketing efforts make them stick around for awhile – combined with great customer service of course! Good advertising helps break through the noise of “me, me, me” and plants the seeds to turn a person into an actual customer. Smart brands do both. Doing neither is business suicide.