Think you’re doing marketing, SME? Sorry. Chances are, you’re not.

When you talk about marketing your small/SME business, do you really know what you’re talking about?

I’ve listened to people running new business startups saying, “oh, we haven’t got much money, so we’ll get a smart student or recent graduate to come in and do our marketing.”

do you know what marketing means

This misinterpretation of marketing and how it contributes to businesses is a BIG problem for them

Just how stupid is that?

Let’s take a good look: this may be something you find surprising but then – enlightening.

Marketing is NOT about writing ads, blogs, press releases, etc.

Marketing when it’s viewed in its entirety is a 4-stage process, and probably will be the most important part of your business to get right if you want it to succeed.

This concept applies equally to big commercial projects as it does to the tiniest of startups.

Get this: marketing consists of four “Ps”

… and they aren’t whimsical: they form part of pretty well any marketing student’s agenda. And that of every qualified marketer’s agenda, too.

To quote

The four Ps are the categories involved in the marketing of a good or service and they include product, price, place and promotion. Often referred to as the marketing mix, the four Ps are constrained by internal and external factors in the overall business environment and they interact significantly with one another.

Here are Investopedia’s details, but in a nutshell what we currently perceive as “marketing” is actually only the fourth “P” in that statement – i.e. promotion, or to be more accurate, marketing communications.

Marketing communications are being confused with marketing more and more each day

How often do you talk about the following, in the context of “marketing?”

**Digital marketing
**Content marketing
**Inbound marketing
**Direct marketing
**Email marketing
**Multi-level marketing
**Network marketing
**Online marketing
**Brand marketing

They are all wrongly named. Why?

Because they’re either forms of marketing communications, or forms of sales hiding behind a marketing term.

How do you tell if an activity really is marketing? If it covers the first three “Ps” (product, price, place) as well as promotion. And that means almost everything connected with your core business, your product or service offering, and your entire business strategy.
Hardly something you’d want to delegate to a student or graduate, no matter how bright they are, right?

 Why do we continue to make these mistakes? I don’t know. But I am not bitching on about it because of semantics. What I see out in the solopreneur/SME world in which I used to work full time and now work in part of the time, is that this misinterpretation of marketing and how it contributes to businesses is a BIG problem for them.

For any business – from a kid’s lemonade stall to a huge multi-national – marketing needs to be the foundation of its strategy, requiring answers to questions about whether or not the business has something to offer that is:

**Something that fills a known gap, something that people want and/or need (product)
**Something you know you can produce for the right amount and still make a profit (price)
**Something you can distribute and deliver to its market, withstand those costs and still make a profit (place)
**Something you can promote through targeted marketing communications online, offline, etc. (promotion)

And what are the major dangers?

That a business and new startup, especially, will inadvertently skip over or pay lip service to the first three “Ps” and go straight into marketing communications. These dangers include:

They don’t do their homework properly – little or no research into target customers and what they need – so find themselves trying to sell a solution that’s looking for a problem. “If you build it, they will come” is bullsh*t.

They focus on the features of their product or service forgetting that target customers only care about the benefits for themselves.

Their product or service is priced too high – or too low – for its market.

Their product or service isn’t available from the right outlets, suppliers, retailers or whatever where their target customers are most likely to buy it.

And lastly, their marketing communications – being based on all the wrong assumptions above, will fail – hardly surprising.

Even for nonfiction books, a full marketing process is essential

As I say to book writing clients, marketing starts at conception – not at birth.

And yes, when it comes to nonfiction books (and fiction books too, in many ways)  if the author wants to sell plenty of copies, we need to look upon their book as a new product just like baked beans or designer handbags.

That means going through a similar process, working through the four “Ps”:

1.Product: what is unique about your book? Are you passionate about its topic? Who will benefit from the information you’ll share in it? Why? Why will your book benefit readers more than other, similar books out there? Have you done any research to back this up?

2.Price: does your book deserve to be a large (expensive) hardback people will keep in their homes or offices for years? Would it be better as a handy, pocket-sized paperback people can refer to easily? What is the optimum cover price for a book like yours? What price point suggests an important book, but not over-priced?

3.Place: would your topic be better produced as an eBook? Will your target readers prefer to read your book on Kindle or other device, say, when they go on holiday or on a long journey? Or if your book needs people to interact with it in any way, would a paperback will be better so they can highlight sections and write down notes? Will your target readers be the sort of people who spend long hours driving, running, in the gym, doing the ironing etc. so would find an audiobook useful? Also, how important is it to you that your book should be sold in bookshops rather than mainly online? If so, you’ll need to approach traditional publishers to see if you can get a deal. If your book is the type of book for which target readers are more likely to search online, are you happy to do this and self-publish?

4.Promotion: based on all the above, write your book to the target readers we have identified, ensuring that their benefits from your information are always in focus. At the same time start your marketing communications: social media, website-based and face-to-face campaigns working towards the pre-launch and then launch of your book. Publication should be the climax of months of marketing communication work.

Etcetera! For more about book marketing, look out for my new tome The Simple Way To Write & Publish Your Nonfiction Book … coming soon.

What are your views on the real meaning of marketing? Please share!