By John Eberhard

I find that many people have a confusion between these two topics of marketing and promotion, often causing a lack of actual marketing taking place. And recently I realized I was not doing enough true marketing for all my clients, and too often just promotion. So what are marketing and promotion?

Promotion is basically sending out items that promote your business and your products or services. This could include Google AdWords advertising, promotional email, putting up a quality website, social media marketing, other types of advertising (online and offline), search engine optimization, direct mail, trade shows, etc.

Marketing is more concerned with:

  • Deciding what to say in your promotion
  • Surveying your target public to find out what they need and want and what will motivate them to buy
  • Finding out what offers will best motivate your public
  • Creating an overall marketing plan
  • Carefully tracking the success of promo efforts
  • Modifying ongoing promo campaigns based on the results
  • Studying what your competition is doing in their marketing and promotion
  • Figuring out how to best price your products or services
  • Coming up with brand new products or services to offer, figuring out how to offer them and price them, and launching these new offerings

So you can see that having a promotional campaign, and keeping it going for a long period of time, with declining results, without taking firm action to improve it, would be a lack of marketing. Here’s what should happen in a case like that:

  • Analyzing when statistics started declining
  • Looking for any changes that were made in the promotion just before that
  • If any changes were made prior to the decline, remove those changes and put things back to how they were before
  • If you can’t find any changes that were made prior to the decline, chances are your campaign has run its course and you need to come up with a new campaign
  • It’s also possible that conditions in the marketplace have changed, such as new competitors coming into the marketplace, or the target public’s attitudes or needs have changed. So research what’s happening in the marketplace and conduct a new survey of your target public.

Another thing to think about is that effective marketing includes doing testing on a continual basis. There is a concept going back decades to direct marketing, where you are continually testing new approaches, new offers, new lists, etc. From doing a lot of testing, you find one version of your promotion which works best. This is called your “control.” So you run that control piece or campaign of course. But the idea of testing is that you will continue to test new approaches, on a small scale, while still running your control. The goal is to beat the control and replace it with something better.

Let’s say you have a campaign on Google AdWords and you have a certain ad or ads, combined with a landing page, that works best for you. The idea is not to rest on your laurels, but to continually come up with new ads and new landing pages, testing new approaches. You keep running your control, but your goal is continual improvement. And if you do that, you will have a competitive advantage because many people will find something that works good and just keep running that forever.

Testing is an important part of what is true marketing, because you’re carefully tracking results, coming up with new campaigns continually, and modifying your overall planning based on the results.

And marketing, not just promotion, is the answer.