Marketing Or Advertising Your Business

Yesterday I gave a presentation on the above topic to a consultant’s group I belong to, The Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. I’m also on the board, write the monthly newsletter, and I’m the webmaster of their website.

Anyway, it was interesting talking to these folks, most of whom are older than I am (scary since I’m 50), and though I got through it all, it seems they all got hung up initially on social media and just what its purpose was. One guy kept asking the question “did you get any business out of it”, to which I could answer to each one “yes”. He didn’t ask if I got a lot of business out of it, but he was missing the point.

The idea of doing things online isn’t always to immediately get a return on your investment (ROI). Yeah, that would be pleasurable, but the truth is that unless you’re already well known, or fill a need that the market has nowhere else to turn to, it will take some time before you really start making money. Sometimes it takes years, but I digress.

The basic thing about marketing a small business as opposed to a large business is that you probably don’t have a budget set for advertising. Oh yeah, let’s get the definitions of the two terms out of the way, just to be clear. Marketing is planning for how you want others to learn about your business and products. Advertising is money spent on producing materials to help you market your business and products.

Small businesses usually start out doing the same thing because it’s the only thing we know. We buy a lot of business cards, which isn’t so bad except often we haven’t fully defined ourselves before we buy the first batch. We either buy or make brochures, which means we spend a lot of money buying supplies or paying someone else to design and copy these suckers. We buy a lot of paper and envelopes to attack things that way. And we try to make endless calls (well, those who have the mettle to do it; I don’t) trying to talk to people who won’t return phone calls. It’s a tough life sometimes.

What we all eventually find out is that, through some kind of networking, we finally have a chance to make some money and do some business with others. It can be a long struggle for some of us, whereas others find success pretty quickly. There is no one way that it happens for everyone.

It’s the same with marketing online. We have read some of the stories of marketers who seemed to hit the ground running into success with internet marketing, and that’s good for those folks. But that’s not the norm. Even Darren Rowse didn’t make money initially, and it probably took him a couple of years to really ramp up his empire, so to speak. And here’s the next part; almost none of these guys continued making money the way they started out making money.

Don’t believe me? Joel Comm started out making money through Adsense; he’s moved on from there. So has Darren Rowse, who actually makes his money through many other services rather than just blogging. Lynn Terry and David Risley make most of their money in other ways than blogging, and John Chow has always said he makes more money from other sources than just blogging. Everyone has to be ready to diversify in some fashion to keep making money; you can only prime this particular pump so many times before the effect wears off. Think about 10 big name internet marketers from 6 years ago, then think of how many of them you still see on a regular basis, unless you’ve stayed on their mailing list forever. If you need to, check out Gurudaq, which I wrote about back in October 2008.

Enough of that. I figure that some might be interested in my outline for the presentation, and at the risk of someone stealing it, well, I really don’t care this time around, although it seems some of my content has been stolen by a site calling itself Lua Cheia (they stole an entire article from my business blog; I wrote them and they said it’s a version of Digg & Stumble Upon, only I got no attribution; here’s the link to it if you want to see it, but I’m not making it an active link: Anyway, here’s the outline; enjoy, and do NOT ask me where I got the statistics from, as I just took the first stat I found on each of these from wherever I could find it.

Traditional Marketing Ideas

1. Mail
     A. Letters
     B. Flyers
     C. Postcards

2. Printed Materials
     A. Flyers
     B. Brochures
     C. Business Cards

3. Networking
     A. Join Groups
     B. Get On Committees
     C. Work on getting people to know you

4. Hire someone to market you
     A. Agency
     B. Sales people

5. Phone calls

6. Media
     A. Magazines/Newspaper
     B. Radio
     C. Television

New Ways Of Marketing

1. Email

2. Websites

3. Blogs

4. Social Networking

5. Speaking/presenting

Costs of Advertising

1. Printed materials can cost a lot of money

2. Cost of postage

3. Costs of joining groups

4. Costs of labor in hiring others

5. Websites can be expensive to create, but are easy to change

6. Blogs are inexpensive to create and maintain, but still need to “advertise” in another way

7. Social media is free, but can be time consuming

8. Email is free, but some people don’t respond well to it


1. Mailings only convert at an average of around 1%, and only if you submit in high volume

2. Business cards only convert at an average of around 2%, but once again, volume drives the figures

3. Websites have a 2.5% conversion rate, based on high traffic

4. Blogs can help conversion rates go up by 3% if you have a niche market

5. Email converts at less than 1% for people you don’t know, around 25% for people you do know

6. Phone calls convert around 2 to 3% for product based companies, less for service based companies

7. Speaking engagements convert around 1% initially, but can increase to 5% over time for some

8. Networking converts at around 1% short term, but can increase to 5% over time for some

9. Advertising on media depends on product & location; products always do better than services

10.No figures on social networking yet, but people have gotten business from it

What Personally Affects How / What We Do

1. Comfort level

2. Finances
     A. What can we afford to spend on stuff
     B. How much in need are we of making money “now”

3. Control

4. Knowing our market too well / too little

5. Trying too hard / giving up

Big Question – What do you do in marketing/advertising & how does it work for you? Are you missing ways that might be beneficial to you long term?

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14 thoughts on “Marketing Or Advertising Your Business”

  1. I found this article really interesting Mitch. It’s true what you say about people starting out in a particular way and then diversifying what they do. In our example, we still offer the same service we initially started offering, but we’ve found a better route to market that works for us.

    I go to a lot of meetings where the people want a blow-by-blow of ROI in regards to SEO. It can be a very tricky one to measure, especially when you have no existing data to measure against.



    1. Actually Karl, I didn’t see it, so thanks for pointing it out.

      If I’m to be truthful, I’d have to say that most of the work I’ve gotten in my major professions is because of networking in multiple ways.

      As for ROI, I never make promises of how high someone will get, because that’s idiotic and I tell them so. However, I can show them how they can compete by moving up on the search engines, and if I can get them doing other things, it all works out in the end.

    1. Considering that the investment is more time than financial, Chandan, I’d agree with you. Of course, not everything works great online, which is why the social part is imperative.

  2. You pointed out something important and gave me an idea.

    Marketing/Advertising are definitely two words that are interchanged often…when in fact they’re not interchangeable.
    .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..I’m Looking For Launch Partners – $20 OR Three DoFollow Links For You! =-.

    1. True Dennis, although, like many words, I don’t always tell people the difference unless I feel it’s necessary, or unless I’m trying to get a point across. Kind of like my racism vs bigotry post some time ago.

      1. That would be a good article for me to do…marketing/advertising, not racism. lol
        .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..Two Plugins Needed – What Do You Recommend? =-.

  3. I’m trying to get into IM. My dad, who is also 50, keeps saying it’s just a scam. I really want to prove him wrong for multiple reasons. Anyway it’s kinda funny as he used to be a wheeler and dealer himself. Buying and selling stuff over the phone.

    1. I gave up on the folks long ago. lol

      It’s tough sometimes not having that support, but the frustration can be even tougher.
      .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..UPDATED – THREE Plugins Needed – What Do You Recommend? =-.

    2. I don’t think your dad is totally far off, JC, but I think he’s probably at least 50% off. I think there are a lot of scams online also; heck, I try to talk about some of them as they come up. But there are also lots of legitimate people trying to make a buck. Some are more successful than others. But when you see those commercials on TV lying to people about how much money they’re making online, you know that’s a scam, no matter how appealing it seems to be.

  4. I reckon ROI is a lot harder to measure online than it is in real life. I may spend a couple of hundred dollars on advertising my blog and not see anything for it where I can spend the same amount on some equipment and get almost an instant gain from it
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Where Bloggers Meet, A Forum For Bloggers =-.

    1. That’s true to an extent, Sire. Some folks who do Adwords have figured out how to do it to not only drive traffic to their sites, but also to make money that offsets how much they’re paying for it. But it really takes a major commitment in doing it.

  5. Hi Mitch, that is a great and digestible list you put together and it gives a great sense of methods people can use across all aspects of traditional marcomm and online advertising. It helps bloggers think outside the box a little, as it’s important to understand that ROI is necessary to attempt to track but there needs to be awareness that it’s a difficult and long-term effort.

    Marie P.

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