Marketing: Defining what Marketing Means

The term marketing has been pulled and stretched and distorted on such a regular basis, that it deserves clarification. 

According to Bartleby.com, in economics, marketing is defined as the part of the process of production and exchange that is concerned with the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer.

At the online dictionary Wordsmyth, marketing is defined as:

Part of Speech           noun
Pronunciation           mar kih tIng
 
Definition     1.     all of the activities involved in transferring goods from a producer to consumers, esp. including advertising.
Definition     2.     the act or process of buying in a market. 

In popular usage, marketing is defined as the distribution and sale of goods, distribution being understood in a broader sense than the technical economic one. 

While technical definitions abound, anyone who has searched for a job in “marketing” will find themselves interviewing for thinly veiled telemarketing and aggressive cold calling positions rather than the other activities involved in the transfer of goods from producer to consumer. 

While the scope of marketing includes not only those who buy and sell directly at both the wholesale and retail level, it also includes those who develop, warehouse, transport, insure, finance, package or promote the product. 

At it’s broadest definition, any position within an organization that has a hand in the process or transfer of product from producer to consumer can be defined as a “marketing“ position.  However, in the end, most of us think of marketing merely as the act of “selling” a product. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In his book HOW TO BECOME A MARKETING SUPERSTAR: UNEXPECTED RULES THAT RING THE CASH REGISTER, Jeffery Fox spending the first 15 chapters going over what goes on INSIDE your business before he even begins talking about promoting your business via advertising or PR.

Marketing in the sense of growing your business or practice begins INSIDE your business or practice. 

When I was a young account executive with a regional advertising agency, I spent a LOT of time "networking".  During these networking events, I would hear over and over again,

"I don’t NEED to advertise because my business operates on word of mouth."

This statement reflects a belief that advertising is for those who don’t have a strong customer base.  What’s interesting is the business that enjoys a strong word of mouth referral base is the IDEAL candidate for traditional advertising because every new customer brought in by a campaign will be replicated many times over via word of mouth.  (WOM) 

Growing your business begins with your current customers.   Delight them and they’ll tell others.  If your current customers aren’t telling others about your product or service, find out why.   Only then, when current customers are singing your praises, should you begin issuing "marketing" invitations to "outsiders".

 

Seven Deadly Sins Your Blog May be Committing

Whether it’s time to bring your practice to the Internet or re-vamp your current internet presence, here are 7 deadly sins you need to avoid as you prepare to launch a blog and present your marketing message to the world.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #1: Avoid the "no name blog" trap.

The best things in life may be free, but when it comes to establishing a business blog, a free blog is a huge mistake. Whether it’s a free account at WordPress.com or a Blogger.com blog, when you use a free blog service there’s no way to keep it a secret. The long and cryptic URL instantly gives you away. 

Unfortunately, setting up shop on one of these sites just reinforces the assumption that you really are small potatoes and aren’t ready or able to compete in the global marketplace.  If you would, by chance, beat the odds and build a respectable following on one of these free blog sites, you’ll find that valuable traffic doesn’t really belong to you, it belongs to the company hosting your blog.  Migrating your blog from one of these free sites to a self hosted site is one fraught with peril.  (Fraught…. who talks like that?) 

A self hosting blog allows you to launch your blog under your own strong, easy to spell URL.  For less than $20 per year, you can register a domain name that describes your business. Click here to see if your preferred domain name is available. 

A self hosted blog allows you to create email addresses with your domain name as well.   When you send messages to potential clients, to your bank or to suppliers, [email protected] (not real) looks far more professional than [email protected]

Best Strategy: Even if you don’t have a web site yet, start right with a self hosted Word Press blog.  Acumen Web Services offers self hosted, no web expertise needed Word Press blogs.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #2: Web sites that don’t look the part.

Start up is tough on everyone, but image is everything, especially to a solo entrepreneur launching a service based practice.

Your web site is your face to the world. Your clients may never see your office, but they will almost always see your web site. While an impressive off-line office address may be out of your reach, an impressive online presence can be had for a fraction of the price of a year’s lease on quality office space.

Best Strategy: For less than $60 you can pick up a professional web site template from Template Monster.com. If you’re looking to "dress" your Word Press blog,  they offer Word Press Blog themes as well.

Your Web site should be the best marketing piece your business has simply because it’s likely to be seen by many more people than most paper brochures. 

Just as you "dress up" to interview for a job,  your web site should too!  Every visitor is a potential employer (a.k.a. client!)!

EVEN BETTER: Visit Acumen Web Services.  It takes you step by step through the process of establishing your blog.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #3: Photo disasters….

Make sure the images on your web site are professional in quality. If you’re going to feature your photo on your site, make sure you get head shots done by a professional. There really is a difference between the photo shot in your back yard and the one shot in a professional studio. Lighting, composition and image quality are all readily apparent even to the casual visitor.

Speaking of professional photographs, if you use stock photos,  be sure you or your designer has purchased the rights to use a particular image. The fines for using images you don’t have the right to use can easily run six figures, not including attorney fees.

Best Strategy: Use a professional web developer for your web design project. Ask about images and copyright information. If your designer/developer tries to dismiss your concerns, find another developer immediately.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #4: The "if I build it, they will come" syndrome.

One of the most common mistakes independent service professionals make is to assume that a business web site instantly attracts clients. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Don’t wait to start marketing your practice online. As soon as your blog is launched, begin posting pillar articles to your blog.  Pillar articles are foundational posts that set the tone for your entire blog.

If you’ve launched an Acumen Web Services Word Press Selft Hosted Blog, then your new web site comes designed with search engine success in mind.  Which style of permalinks should you choose?  How do you create (and maintain) a site map?  You don’t have to worry about those questions because your Word Press blog is already optimized!

Best Strategy: Be certain your web site is designed with the search engines in mind. Ask what is being done to make your site "search engine friendly" during the design and development of your site.  If you’re using a Word Press blog, make sure the right plug ins are installed.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #5: It’s called the WORLD WIDE WEB for a reason

Don’t forget to put your location and phone number prominently on your Web site. Web sites are frequently used as a customer looking at it while calling the company.  Many businesses find that customers will refer to something on the Web site, but they actually buy products or order services on the phone.

It’s also a good idea to put your mailing address on the site. If you’re working from home, get a PO Box or a virtual office. It adds to the comfort level of knowing you are a "real" business.

Best Strategy: Even if you’re a virtual service provider, there’s a sense of comfort for your customers in knowing what time zone you’re in. Include contact information prominently throughout the site.

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #6: The banner barrage

Joining a banner exchange will probably not help bring traffic to your Web site. Putting four banners on a page in addition to buy now buttons for Google plus six or seven other affiliate programs just makes your site look cheap.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog or a traditional web site, greeting a visitor with a barrage of ads is just another way of saying "Get Lost!"

Think about it. When you see a google ad words box on a site, the first thing that comes to mind is, "Hey, why don’t I try one of those links".

If you join affiliate programs you’ll find that you get much better results if you provide links to specific products in context, rather than a generic button to those companies’ home pages. This way you provide a service that makes sense for your business, rather than another distracting button on your Web site.

Best Strategy: Because of the search engine friendly of Word Press blogs, many people use them to make SIGNIFICANT money with affiliate programs.  However, just placing affiliate links in your blogroll isn’t a good way to drive traffic to your affiliate links.  Talking about the product or service within your posts will!

Deadly Online Marketing Sin #7: What do you do again?

 

The final deadly sin is to have a Web site that doesn’t quickly convey business you are in and the solutions you offer to your visitors. While it sounds like another no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how many small business Web sites leave you looking at them for minutes while pondering, "What is it exactly that these folks do?"

Remember, a confused mind says "no". Make sure your message is crystal clear from the moment your page loads.

Truth or consequences: The dirty little secrets about images and copyright protection

This morning, had an email from a long time client in my inbox with the subject line: HELP!!!  (Have I mentioned that I HATE Mondays!)

Kathy,
I just got a letter from [attorney] at [business name].  She said that there is an image of a bowl of fruit on two pages of my web site that are a copyright infringement....She said that we have to pay $5,850 and have it off the website in 10 days.  What in the world is this all about?  HELP!!!

This client came to me with her web site already developed about 7 years ago. She ADORED the design and didn’t want me to change the APPEARANCE of the site. So, I tweaked her web site BEHIND the scenes so it would be more attractive to the search engines.

Now, YEARS LATER,  I have a client who is TERRIFIED of the impending legal action and there’s nothing I can do to alleviate her fears. See, in the world of image licensing and copyright, you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent. You prove your inocence by providing PROOF that you licensed the image…otherwise known as "save your reciept".

If you’d like to learn more about licensing images for use on your web site, read this article: Using images on your website

Marketing Guru: a dirty word in my book

Usually, by the time clients land at my front door, they’ve been around the block and signed up for multiple newsletters on how to make their web site work as a marketing power tool for their business.  As a result, I frequently get a "first hand look" at special announcements from many so called "marketing gurus".

Here, in the written word, I put quotation marks around the term "marketing guru" to denote the phrase as a "slang" term.  If you heard me speak the sentence, you’d hear my voice fluctuate as I spoke the words.  If you were to sit across from me and watch me speak the words, I’m sure you’d be amused by the facial expressions that just naturally accompany my utterance of those words.

To earn the deragatory title of "marketing guru" in my book you must usually:

  1. Be providing little REAL value to clients through your work.

    Usually this is demonstrated by merely rehashing what others have said or things they have read. 

    These wanna be marketing professionals rarely offer real life case studies of real live business clients because the only marketing experience these "marketing gurus" have is marketing their information product business.

  2. Be dedicated more to his/her own practice’s success than he/she is to his/her client’s success.

    The "marketing guru" in my book is more interested in peddling his or her wares than he/she is providing valuable information on what works and what doesn’t in marketing.   Again, this is because the "marketing guru’s" experience is limited to his or her promotion of his/her information product.

In the interest of time, I’ve posted to another blog I author the particular event which caused me to write this defining post.   In my post, Resisting the irresistible…. or how NOT to be a victim of a really great sales letter I admonish my client (and my readers) to try not to fall into step with the swaying of the snake charmer’s body.  Instead, step back and watch a master work.

Watch what snake charmer’s like this are DOING to promote their product instead of getting caught up in the sales frenzy being generated.  Watch the way they work their bodies and the way they match it to the music they’re playing and try to create your own similar song.

Notice how the song being played was created JUST for this particular audience.  It’s then carefully delivered to that specific audience.  The "marketing guru" in question doesn’t have my name on his mailing list… he has my client’s name and email on his list. 

My client obviously hasn’t read my free resource on what Google loves…. but then again, she’s paying to have me on retainer to ask these questions personally.

My final "word of warning"…. most of my clients are engaged in making what is called the "Major Sale" by Neil Rackham in his work on SPIN selling.  Selling an information product is an example of a MINOR SALE while selling services is almost universally a MAJOR SALE.  Ah, there’s the rub!  Many of these marketing guru’s are selling marketing information that works for MINOR SALES products and not MAJOR SALE services.  So while more than a few of these "marketing gurus"  are probably well meaning, they don’t realize that there really is a difference in marketing these two distinctly different types of products and/or services.

Want to learn more?  Pick up my book Beyond the Niche.  I’ve got to get back to work!

Do I need Paypal or a Merchant Account?

The Paypal vs Merchant Account is a frequent conversation I have with clients, especially those who are new to owning their own business.

The conversations I had with clients 5-10 years ago are significantly different than conversations I have with clients today.  While even three years ago, the gap between using Paypal and a traditional merchant account to collect money from customers were vast. 

I used to advise clients that if they ONLY wanted to collect money from clients via the web, then Paypal was the way to go.  However, if they wanted to be able to process credit card transactions offline, then a merchant account was the way to go.  However, Paypal has changed and now offers a Virtual Terminal for clients and that changes EVERYTHING for merchants.

Here are the basics:

You need either a merchant’s account OR a Paypal business account to accept payments via credit card.  

According to Wikipedia: 

"A merchant account allows a business to accept credit cards, debit cards, gift cards and other forms of payment cards. This is also widely known as payment processing or credit card processing.

Merchants, or business owners who receive credit card payment for their goods or services, must first apply for a merchant account typically through a merchant bank or MSP (Merchant Service Provider). The merchant account will typically be established based on several factors. Merchants who own businesses with poor or no credit may find it difficult to establish a merchant account through traditional routes. 

WIth a traditional Merchant Account, you pay a monthly fee in addition to paying a % of each transaction.  The percentage paid is dependent upon a variety of factors, including the type of transaction AND your business’ credit score.

Paypal CAN act as your merchant account.

Paypal’s fees are constant.  Your personal credit history does not factor into the equation with Paypal.  It’s also not only free to sign up, but you only pay a fee when someone sends you money via Paypal.  Unlike a traditional Merchant Account, you only pay for Paypal’s services when someone sends you money via Paypal. Combine this with the fact that people tend to spend their Paypal account balances more freely than other sources, and you may find that Paypal is a GREAT option for your business.

In the past, if you used Paypal you had to rely upon the end user to start and complete the transaction.  The only way to collect money via Paypal was via the web.  That meant creating and picking up code and inserting it into a web page.  If you do most of your business via the web, then Paypal is a WONDERFUL way to accept payment via the web.

Another reason to use Paypal is customers feel more secure.  See, when someone pays you via Paypal, their personal payment information is never revealed to you, the merchant.  PayPal allows anyone to pay in any way they prefer, including through credit cards, bank accounts, buyer credit or account balances, without sharing financial information.

However, one of the BIGGEST drawbacks to Paypal (prior to their introduction of the Virtual Terminal) was that the BEST way to use Paypal was to embedd a button into a web page.  Oops!  That usually meant either contacting your web developer OR learning to insert the bit of code into your web pages on your own.

ENTER THE PAYPAL VIRTUAL TERMINAL

With the Paypal Virtual Terminal:

  1. Customer orders by phone, fax, or mail with credit card.
  2. You enter order into Virtual Terminal.
  3. PayPal processes the transaction and you get paid.

If you want to do business via the web, then learning to use Paypal is an essential skill.  I’m currently developing video tutorials to walk you through the process.  Contact me if you want to be notified of when these videos will be available.