I started my business because I was good at making cakes, not because I was good at business, and over the years I’ve made it a priority to learn about *business* more than I’ve made it a priority to learn about cake. One area I needed a real education in was marketing – or what I would have probably called ‘advertising.’ It’s something people ask me about all the time, “Where should I advertise?” “How much money should I spent on ads?” “Are facebook ads worth it?” “Do Google AdWords work?” “Are print ads worth it anymore?” and so on. All these questions made me realise that most owners of baking businesses have no real idea what marketing actually is – because nobody ever taught them, and because the common wisdom is that marketing and advertising are the same thing.
I recently heard this quote which I think explains it beautifully:
“If the circus comes to town and you design a sign saying, ‘Circus Coming to Town Saturday’ that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the Mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the Mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s people go to the circus and you show them the many entertaining booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales. And if you planned the whole thing, THAT’S MARKETING.” (attributed to Lee Solters)
In short, marketing is about the big picture.
Successful marketing is about planning the how, when and why of getting your business’s personality to shine through all the other personalities vying for attention at the big baking party. It needs a defined plan, it needs a defined goal, it needs to be the driver BEHIND the ads, the promos, the press releases, the sales.
Now that you know what marketing actually is – start thinking about the ways you currently market your business. What methods do you use to get your message out to your clients or potential clients? Have you got some activities planned for the future? For those of you not at that stage, what activities would you like to be doing? For marketing to work, it can’t be a case of you suddenly deciding you might try to promote a post on facebook (although promoted posts might be a part of the overall plan.)
Next week I’m going to talk about how to go about creating a marketing plan – so this week, take stock of what you’re doing (planned or not) and also think about the story it’s telling your potential clients. Is it telling them the most amazing circus is coming to town and they should save their pennies especially to spend money at the big top? Or is it telling them that the two-bit flea circus with the half-dead horses and no-longer-performing seals are limping their way into town?