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Success or failure: why it really matters that marketing is NOT just about promotion

When many people say the word “marketing” or even sell “marketing” services, what they actually mean is “promotion” – using tools like advertising, websites or glossy brochures.

Marketing has become synonymous with promotion, to the point where the word marketing has seemingly lost its true meaning and value.

People claim to want to “market” their business and others will happily sell “digital marketing”, “content marketing”, “email marketing” and alike – when by and large what they’re selling are promotional tools or services.

It’s not just a matter of being overly pedantic about words – as no amount of promotion is likely to have any impact if you’re doing the wrong things, the wrong way, for the wrong people – it’s a matter of business success or failure.

This fact is even taught in secondary schools – my own GCSE course in Business Studies identified that at the heart of marketing were the four Ps of the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. In order for a business to be successful, it must get all these elements in order, with promotion being the last thing to think about!

The Chartered Institute of Marketing has further developed the Ps of the marketing mix, now claiming there to be 7: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence. Furthermore, their preferred definition of marketing is:

“ The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

You don’t identify, anticipate or satisfy customer requirements through promotion. So if promotion is the limit of your marketing consideration, you’re at great risk of coming up with a product or service idea that you think people will want, then gambling a whole load of money on promotional activities in the hope that they’ll buy it.

It really is little more than gambling. That may be fine if you’re a lone entrepreneur with money to lose, but when your staff are relying on you to pay their mortgages and feed their families, the risks of this folly become somewhat harder to ignore.

If you want your business to be a success, without that success being a massive gamble, it’s vital to step away from promotion unless the other elements of the marketing mix are in place.

Marketing considered and performed properly will help you offer the right products, the right way, to the right people, at the right time, place and price. Plus, it will help to ensure that when you do consider promotion, you’re targeting the right people and reaching them via the most efficient means available to you.

Knowing the difference between marketing and mere promotion really can be the difference between success or failure.

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