Why following the latest marketing trends will cost you time, money and customers.
In general, there seems to be an impossible definition of marketing and the more marketing concepts, trends and tactics that are introduced into the world of business, the more confusing it appears to become. Some people may think marketing is advertising or branding, promotion, or some other vague concept. While they are all associated with marketing, they are not one in the same.
Here is the simplest, most jargon-free definition of marketing:
If the International Chilli Festival is coming to town and you print signs saying “International Chilli Festival coming to Town Square this weekend” – that’s Advertising.
If you send a sign around with a Mexican Mariachi paired with a costumed chilli and taco playing music as they walk through the city – that’s Promotion (and it sounds like fun!).
If the local fire department comes out with their engines, and the local newspaper writes a story about it – that’s Publicity.
And... if you get the mayor to pick up a fire hose and laugh about it – that’s Public Relations.
If the locals go the festival and you show them many food trucks and some spicy entertainment, show them how much fun they'll have spending money at the vendors, answer their questions and they ultimately spend money at the festival – that’s Sales.
And... if you plan the whole thing – that’s Marketing!
All this stuff you usually associate with marketing are “tactics”. Marketing is actually the strategy you use for getting your ideal target market to know you, like you and trust you enough to become a customer.
A fundamental shift has occurred in the last decade and things will never be the same! Once upon a time, you placed an ad in the yellow pages, paid them a decent amount of money and your marketing was done for the year. Now, you have Google, Social Media, Blogs, Websites and a myriad of other things to think about. Previously where your competitors may have been across the street, now they can be on the other side of the Globe. The Internet has literally opened up a world of competitors. As a result, the “shiny object syndrome” paralyses many who are trying to market their business. This is where they get caught up in where the currently “hot” marketing tactics are, like SEO, Video, Podcasting, Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and more. They get caught up with tools and tactics and never figure out the big picture of what they’re actually trying to do and why.
Understanding the difference between strategy and tactics is absolutely vital to marketing success. Strategy is the big picture planning you do prior to the tactics. Imagine you’re a builder and have just signed on a new client to build their home. They’ve bought an empty block of land and want you to build them a house. Would you just order a pile of bricks and just start laying them? Absolutely not! You’d end up with an unfinished mess that certainly wasn’t safe. So, what do you do instead? You engage your architect, estimator, surveyor and designer first, and they plan everything out from the major items like getting permits, right down to the little items of what kind of tap fittings your client would like. All of this is planned prior to a single shovel of dirt being moved. That’s strategy. Then, once you have your strategy, you know how many bricks you need, where the foundation goes and what kind of roof you’re going to have. Now you can send in the bricklayer, carpenter, plumber, electrician and so on. That’s tactics.
You can’t do anything worthwhile successfully without both strategy and tactics. Strategy without tactics leads to paralysis by analysis. No matter how good of a builder you are, the house isn’t going to get built until someone starts laying bricks. At some stage, your team is going to need to say “ok, the blueprint drawings are now good, we’ve got all the necessary approvals to build, so let’s get started.” As highlighted before, tactics without strategy leads to shiny object syndrome. Imagine you started building a wall without any plans, then later found out that it was in the wrong place, then you start pouring the foundation and then you find out that it’s not right for this type of house, then you start excavating the area where the client wants the pool, but that isn’t right either. This clearly isn’t going to work. Yet, this is exactly how most business owners do their marketing. They string together a bunch of random tactics in the hope that what they’re doing will lead to a customer. They put up a website without much thought and it ends up being an online version of their brochure. Or, they start promoting on social media because they heard that’s the latest thing.
The fact is, you need both strategy and tactics to be successful.