You are an entrepreneur. You are not a marketing specialist. Therefore, you need an infusion of information on marketing (and actually ultimately selling) your product to your potential clients. You have: Entrepreneur Marketing Questions!
Enough clients have expressed confusion and the tendency to be overwhelmed about marketing their products effectively, that I thought it was a worthwhile venture to spell out some basic terms and options clearly. Therefore, we will be embarking on a blog series to answer (in a clear, no- nonsense format, with some humor thrown in here and there for good measure) common entrepreneur questions we encounter regularly. The topics we will discuss in this series include the following:
- What does a marketer do?
- How does this differ from advertising or publicity?
- What is publicity and what does a publicist do? Do I need one? Are you one?
- Will social media sell my product?
- Can you measure (or guarantee me) ROI on my social media efforts?
- How long will a social media campaign take to generate income?
- What is a web footprint?
Ultimately, you became a business owner because you love what you do, you are good at what you do, you want to focus on what you do, and you believe that you have what it takes (or are at least willing to take the leap of faith and attempt) to make a living doing what you do. This does not mean you want to sell, market, publicize, advertise or in any other format promote what you do to new and potential clients. I very commonly hear things like “Can’t I just bake my famous cookies and have someone else do everything else?” or “I became a tour guide because I love being outdoors and showing off my local landscape to visitors – I’m terrible at accounting, technology and sales.”
We will focus on terms and definitions in order to help clarify and simplify knowledge that every entrepreneur (including you) should have in order to assist in making strategic decisions – like what to spend money on. We are a small business, too – we totally get that you need to be very careful about where to invest your resources. No, lunches at P.F. Chang’s for “networking purposes” do not count as investments.
Today, we’ll begin by addressing the difference between marketing and publicity, since we’ve often heard these terms used interchangeably.
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For purposes of an example product, let’s take a theoretical client who is a recently published author. The product is, obviously, his or her book. The marketing effort will (hopefully) include a combination of all the activities that help to increase the sale of the book, including a mix of publicity, advertising, online marketing, social media marketing and other promotional activities.
Ultimately, marketing the book is an effort to make the book visible to its target audience. Sounds simple, right? And obvious? Not overly so, since a marketing effort is aimed specifically and directly at the end consumer – an individual person who may potentially purchase the book. The marketing team defines the audience (will this book appeal to men or women, entrepreneurs or academics, teenagers or thought leaders?) and promotes the book to this particular audience through a call to action. A call to action is any suggestion which strongly encourages a direct purchase, including downloading a subscription or a free e-book, a discount to purchase the book, an invitation to an author-led reading or signing event.
When you hire a marketing person for your product or service, this person will (and should!) initially interview you to assess who you should be targeting (audience identification) and what exactly you’d like this audience to do (goal and call to action.) It is decidedly unwise (super diplomatic for do-not-do) to canvass an untargeted audience:
UNTARGETED: “I want everyone and anyone to know who I am!”
TARGETED: “I believe my book will appeal to working mothers, and I’d like to sell as many books as possible to that audience in the next 3 months. In addition, I’d like to book speaking engagements to promote myself, my image and my brand.”
Your marketing person will then talk to you about relevant advertisements for the book, optimizing your Amazon account, and spearheading your online marketing campaign.
Publicity, however, is one aspect of marketing – it falls under the umbrella of marketing but does not directly target the consumer. Instead, publicity utilizes the media to raise awareness of the product. Let’s say you have hired a publicist – what would you expect this person to do for you? A publicist is someone who specializes in publicity and will take on the responsibility for writing press releases, soliciting media to interview you and publish about your book, schedule and promote your book tour and promote you for speaking and guest blogging opportunities.
Your publicist (assuming she knows what she’s doing) will solicit other writers to review your book publicly and attempt to get you and your book mentioned in as many media outlets as possible. She will create “buzz” by placing you and your book into media outlets, much like the product positioner for Reese’s Pieces got Elliot to tempt E.T with them. Yes, I’m dating myself.
When Danielle Steel comes out with a new book, clearly she has an entire team (multiple agencies) working on marketing it. She has a staff of publicists, agents and social media gurus to promote her new title. As more of a small-timer (at least so far) we would not immediately recommend that you fork over half a million dollars on promotion. Let’s be honest, if you had millions sitting around, would you have necessarily written that book, or would you be playing golf or scuba diving instead?
Marketing, advertising, publicity, social media, blogging, buzz and promotion can be done on a limited budget and on a smaller scale. Really, all it takes is strategy, prioritizing, being clear about goals, and partnering with someone skilled and passionate to whom you relate and can build trust.