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Are you confusing marketing with promotions?


Confused about the difference between marketing and promotions?

While talking with a prospective customer, I learned that he struggles in a difficult marketing ecosphere. He works for a small family-owned company. What is his struggle? He must implement marketing for the firm’s services however, there is no clear agreement between the owners on marketing strategy and priorities.

As he told the story to me, on an almost weekly basis, he gets a new directive from one of the owners that countermands the previous week’s orders from the other owner. Many of us have worked with companies like this. The problem is (besides owners who don’t agree on marketing priorities) is the expectation that marketing will “pay off” tomorrow.

Many people are confused. They don’t know the difference between marketing and promotions.

A company’s marketing is a strategic approach that directs all their activities based on a set of priorities that have been built around explicit goals. Promotions are short term campaigns that fit within marketing plans and help reach goals.

Marketing plans help focus a series of activities or tactics. Promotions are a tactic.

As an example, I’m a homebuilding company whose homes are small entry-level, bungalows designed to appeal to first-time home-buyers. So, my marketing is then based on a series of strategic decisions to build a product that is appealing to these buyers. My homes incorporate all the features that my buyers desire, and I place advertising or achieve earned media in outlets where that buyer directs their attention. My strategies may include monthly promotions designed to call attention to the features of my houses or catch the attention of my prospective customers.

Marketing is based on a positioning statement and is supported by a plan that by months, or quarters, works to achieve the interest of the buyer or customer.

When you change directions weekly, you confuse the customer, you upset your marketing strategies and fail to achieve your goals.

You should tweak your marketing’s direction and focus to get even higher performance, but avoid disrupting it on a regular basis with an entirely new strategy.

photo credit: flickr user db photographs

2 thoughts on “Are you confusing marketing with promotions?

  1. Not only does your client sound like he works for companies I have worked for, he also sounds like our clients. The powers that be who make the decisions don’t realize that marketing isn’t fast food: you don’t see instant results. Test, yes. Analyize, certainly. But for heaven’s sake focus and be patient. Everyone will benefit in the end.

    Great article!

    1. Grace, you and I are singing off the same sheet of music! You are right, results don’t happen tomorrow…

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