I often come across small business owners who have spent their hard-earned money on ad-hoc advertising tactics, off-shore website designers, local printers and, more recently, SEO specialists and YouTube-focused video production companies. However, they find that these efforts yield little to no return on their advertising investments. These failures have left many small business owners feeling discouraged about investing in further marketing, as they think that marketing as a whole simply “doesn’t work”.
As the owner of a marketing agency targeting small- and medium-sized businesses, I want to set the record straight: Marketing is not about how pretty it looks, or how cool it is – it’s about how effective it is. Marketing tools will have limited effects when developed without a clear purpose. However, when developed to support a marketing strategy, marketing tools can generate qualified leads, and thereby increase your results.
In this blog, I’d like to advise you of a number of marketing tool suppliers that are often confused with actual marketers. If you are able to identify what results you can expect to get from these types of suppliers, the outcomes of any efforts undertaken with these individuals/companies will be easier to comprehend.
As their name states, printers only know how to print marketing materials. They do not develop marketing strategies. Although some may offer web and logo design, or know how to layout your business cards and letterhead, this does not make them a marketer. Printing is nothing more than an advertising tactic.
2. Web designers
Web designers are individuals who can design a website, and will advise you on what makes the most sense to feature on your site from a navigational or flow perspective. They might know what looks best, and might even share with you some best practices of site design, but, typically, they are not marketers. Like print, web design is a marketing tactic or tool.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists can help you to increase the chances of your site being located online, through search engines such as Google and Bing. Although I believe that SEO is one of the most important marketing tools available today, it is nothing more than a tool that should be used to support marketing strategies.
4. Social media specialists
Social media specialists are amazing at getting your brand out there, and keeping you relevant to your customers through social media strategies and implementation. This does not necessarily mean that they are marketers. Social media is a marketing tactic that should follow a strategy, and it should be aligned with your overarching marketing strategy.
5. Online marketing
Although the word “marketing” is in the name, online marketing is, again, a tactic that needs to be identified and aligned with your marketing strategy. Many companies offer a proprietary online marketing tool “guaranteed to increase your sales”. This needs to be considered as part of a marketing strategy.
6. Video marketing
Video marketing is undoubtedly a marketing tactic. Frequently, video marketing is provided by video production companies – individuals who can shoot and edit video, who lack a marketing background. As well, some marketing companies with no background in video often claim to provide these services. Professional video requires expertise in the field, and if used for marketing purposes, also requires alignment with your marketing strategy in order to be successful.
If you only take away one point from this blog, let it be that marketing requires a strategy. Every vendor that you hire should be asking to see how their marketing tool aligns with your overall marketing plan, increases ROI, and will be measured against your marketing strategy.
Do you have any questions about the difference between marketing tools and marketing strategies? Do you have any other marketing-related questions for me? Please share your questions and comments below.