Friday, August 21, 2015

What is the most misunderstood topic in business?

By David Ronald

It’s become increasingly clear to me that, for some entrepreneurs, marketing simply equals promotion.

For some people marketing is a website; marketing is a YouTube video; marketing is a press release.

Marketing is how you are going to evangelize the awesomeness of your product and why people would be foolish not to buy it.

To some people, marketing is simply selling at internet-scale.

The reality, however, is that marketing is much, much more than this. The concept of the marketing mix (sometimes referred to as the 4Ps of marketing) was introduced by Neil Borden in the 1950s and remains an insightful way to understand the role of marketing.

Most people are familiar with the marketing mix but here it is for those who are not:

  • Product—includes considerations about functionality, quality, appearance, packaging, brand, service, support and warranty
  • Price— encompasses list pricing, discounts, financing, leasing options and allowances 
  • Place—spans ecommerce, distribution, retail locations, geographies, channel partners and logistics 
  • Promotion—includes messaging, content, social media, websites, public relations, analyst relations, and tradeshows.

As this illustrates, marketing isn’t just a few, disaggregated, outbound activities. It is, instead, a comprehensive and strategic function that should be the kernel of your business.

Marketing is important and it needs to be done right—a study by CB Insights, a venture capital database, found that ineffective marketing was the eighth (of 20) most common reason given by startup founders when explaining why their businesses had failed. (Reasons that were rated less important included an inability to attract investors, poor responsiveness to customers and employee burnout!)

So, why is marketing often implemented poorly by small business owners? Ironically, marketing isn’t difficult—and I believe the reason it’s done badly is simply because many entrepreneurs are too busy addressing topics that are deemed to be higher priority…until it’s too late.

Yes, marketing is a website; marketing is a YouTube video; marketing is a press release. But marketing is much more than these. Successful marketing requires adoption of a holistic vision of what to make, how much to sell it for, where to sell it and how to educate buyers about how it benefits them.

Until then, marketing will remain a topic that everyone thinks she/he understands but that few genuinely do.

Thanks for reading.

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