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Are You Really Marketing or Just Advertising?

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I was at a small conference break-out session a little while back when a colleague and I started chatting. He works in a particular line of lighting at a major manufacturer. We were talking about the merits of that lighting versus other types. I commented that the better of the two options would be great for aging seniors or those with otherwise poor vision.

He gave me a quizzical look. I asked, "Do you advertise, promote, or generally market at all this line of lighting to that demographic?"

He responded, "No, not really.  In the past, we generally create a product and essentially say to the market, 'Here's what the product is and here's what it does.'"

I made the suggestion that he might want to look into that specific market because I know a few people who would find this offering compelling. I suggested looking at the sizing, identifying a test market, conducting some interviews, and understanding why current offerings fail to satisfy purchasers now. He replied to me that his group has been looking for a better way to break into a health-care-related market.

This got me thinking ...  How many companies push words on a paper and crank out brochures, yet call "marketing"?  Marketing needs to be more about segmentation, sensing, sizing, understand pain points, and creating an attractive value proposition.

You Simply Advertise and Promote if You … You Market if You …
Use the same list as last time for your current e-mail blast. Do some research online to add more people---relevant people---to your list so the message is better received.
Use the term e-mail blast without blinking. Use e-mail as one of many channels to reach people, and know that every message is a spend of time on your readers’ behalf.
Rush to create one brochure so you can work on the next. Re-read the content of your brochure and see if your audience will get value from it.
Copy text from your e-mail to start a LinkedIn discussion group because its “mostly the same idea, and you don’t have time to change it for each audience.” You know that a Facebook fan page audience is different than a LinkedIn group and different than a Twitter audience, and you create text accordingly.
Hastily think that one message to 10,000 people is good since there’s a good chance you’ll catch somebody. Would rather spend time crafting a more discrete message to a smaller group, knowing that your conversion rate will be much higher.
Like shotguns. Like sniper rifles.

How about you?  In your marketing role, are you spending time to understand the market and create compelling offers?

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Alan Belniak works at a major Boston-based software company (PTC) focusing on product lifecycle management, where he is employed as the company’s Director of Social Media Marketing. In this role, Alan works in strategic and tactical fashions to find ways to use social media channels to better interact with customers, and to direct that feedback to marketing, R&D, sales, and other appropriate groups. Alan holds a bachelor’s of Science degree in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, and his master’s degree in Business Administration, with a focus on Technology Entrepreneurship, from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Alan blogs over at, and can be found on Twitter, too:

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  • by Jef Menguin Sat Oct 23, 2010 via blog

    My marketing is like sniper rifles. I like the metaphor.

    I like it better in practice.

    Thank you.

  • by Michelle Poteet Mon Oct 25, 2010 via blog

    Yes, love the sniper rifle! Great post - always love the "straight to the point" information!


  • by KnDino Mon Oct 25, 2010 via blog

    Very well written article Allen- Great Content and fun to read! So true.. when you zero in on relationship marketing, you are creating a two-way interaction with your client. Because who wants to feel like a number. We all want to think we are "special" (said with the "Church Lady" accent ala Dana Carvey on Snl)

  • by Ian Greenleigh Mon Oct 25, 2010 via blog

    Great post. However apt the comparison, I'm always weary of using violence/hunting-related terminology when discussing prospects and customers. Everyone does it, including me on occasion. Anyway, besides that, you're entirely correct. Push doesn't cut it anymore (and I'm not sure it ever did).

  • by Andy Mon Oct 25, 2010 via blog

    This may be too simplistic but advertising is generally a subset of the overall marketing function. Marketing goals tends to drive the advertising strategy - providing the overarching plan/framework to which advertising helps to fulfill.

  • by Jim Goodwin Mon Oct 25, 2010 via blog

    We generally use our email promotions and our website for sales and our Facebook and blog site for customer engagement. We've found that entertaining content and interaction have worked best for social media. We do occasionally run special events and offer special discounts to our followers but we try to avoid sales heavy copy on these sites.

  • by Alan Belniak Tue Oct 26, 2010 via blog

    Andy, I agree (and recall from my core marketing classes) that advertising is a subset of overall marketing. I was editorializing a bit with the comparison, though, because I think more often the two are becoming equated, though they shouldn't be. And the actions on what I describe as 'advertising' could easily be re-labeled "lazy marketing".

  • by Reggie Dover Sun Sep 2, 2012 via blog

    One thing I have learned is that Facebook is entertainment for the majority of its users, not a business tool. If you keep this in mind and make your posts light hearted and often humorous, your audience will be much more receptive.

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