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Marketing Vs. Promoting

Posted by on Jun 18, 2009

Last week, I introduced one of my new websites, Smoke Not So Much. During the discussions that took place, one of the commenters asked me if I had ever used any of the products I was promoting on that site, to which I had to say “no” because I’ve never smoked. Another commenter stated she thought the topic of promoting something one hadn’t used might be an interesting topic to write on. Well, I haven’t seen her write about it yet, so I guess I’ll take up the pen and write about it instead.

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that sometimes I get fairly precise on terminology. I’m going to do so now, because I think this will highlight a difference in what’s actually going on, and changes the discussion somewhat.

When one “promotes” something, they’re telling you that something is good and they recommend it. When someone is “marketing” something, they’re just selling it, with no conversation as to how good it is or anything else about the product.

This is an important distinction, as I go back to the original comments made by the two ladies. On the first one, I’ve set up my new site to market anti-smoking products because they fit within the theme. I haven’t promoted any of those items because, obviously, I’ve never used any of them. Now, one of my articles on that site might look like I’m promoting it, the one on Zyban, because it seems to work wonders to help people stop smoking. However, it’s a commentary and review because no place on that page, or any other page, do I have the product listed for sale. Actually, I think it’s a prescription drug so I couldn’t market it anyway.

So, let’s ask two questions. Can someone market a product they know nothing about? Sure they can; most of us do on our websites. If we run Adsense, we do it all the time, though not consciously. Can someone promote a product they know nothing about? Sure they can; but it’s not a complete answer.

Two more questions then. Should someone market a product they know nothing about? I believe so, with restrictions. Every product I market on my site I do know something about; just not that particular product. If I market a rug, for instance, well, I know what rugs are, and I’ve purchased rugs, so do I have to market only rugs I’ve purchased, or can I market a rug that I think looks cool that I didn’t purchase? I think “yes”.

Should someone promote a product they know nothing about? Now that’s dicey. I’ve seen many recommendations of products by people where you know they didn’t write the copy. Some products I’ve marketed have had write-ups that someone else did that they recommended I use, and I’ve refused to go that route because, to me, it’s not only false, but someone else wrote it instead of me.

If my name is going to be attached to something as a recommendation, then I’m going to know something more about that product than what someone else said. I had to think about the last thing I promoted, and it was less than a month ago when I promoted Zoomerang, the survey company, and that’s because I’ve been taking their surveys for years and therefore felt familiar with it and believe it’s a reputable company. I’ve never created a survey, but I think I still know enough about them to promote them.

So, there’s my conversation on the topic; what say you?


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10 Comments »

Tim Manni:

Interesting stuff as always Mitch.

Here’s something I was wondering about. Is there a difference between the two (marketing and promoting) when your talking about “yourself” (your website, your blog, etc.)? There’s always an element of self promotion when you own a business or conduct a service; the same goes for bloggers (we tweet, we write in order to promote and/or market our own stuff).

I guess my question is can we go too far in self promotion? Marketing, promoting, and advertising your biz, blog, or whatever it happens to be, is generally a good thing. As a blogger (and I know you can relate), we are always leaving comments, tweeting our latest posts and acknowledgments in an effort to gain more readers. When is too far? Maybe there’s no answer, I’m not sure I have one, it’s just a though I had when reading this post.

Thought-provoking stuff, thanks,
Tim

June 18th, 2009 | 11:47 AM
Mitch:

Thanks for being the first one to respond, Tim. I think that, in general, there’s no over promoting when it comes to self promotion. I say that because if you, as the marketer, are savvy, you’re going to realize that it’s either too much or too little on your own, but people have to figure it out. Locally we have a guy who’s always on TV with his goofy commercials, but he realized a long time ago that he’s actually the product, and people respond to him and buy his cars in droves. So, it works well for him. Some of the rest of us aren’t so lucky to be as identified, so we have to gauge it accordingly.

June 18th, 2009 | 2:36 PM
Tim Manni:

Yea I guess you’re right, it all comes down to if people like what you say, or find it interesting. It’s all part of the game, right?

June 19th, 2009 | 9:23 AM
Richard Wohnungssuche:

I reckon it is important to build a name – not just for the company you work in, but also for yourself. Most bloggers blog because they want to establish themselves as an expert in a certain field. The self-promotion is inherent to any type of external communication.

June 19th, 2009 | 11:52 AM
Mitch:

Good point, Richard. Also, some bloggers just need to give it up because they’re not really sure what they’re trying to establish themselves as an expert at. lol

June 19th, 2009 | 6:47 PM
Sire:

I actually don like recommending a product unless I’ve tried it personally. As you know I do a lot of paid reviews, but unless I’ve actually tried it I don’t actually give it a personal recommendation.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Save Even More Money With eBay =-.

June 19th, 2009 | 10:22 PM
Mitch:

That’s the part about marketing that I think we’re both cool with, Sire. We can market something and be fine with it, though I may have a bit more familiarity with some of the products than you do; I’m not totally sure about that, though. But if we’re really promoting it, then we’ve at least used it in some fashion.

June 20th, 2009 | 12:14 AM

Yep, and the thing is that if you’ve actually used something then the enthusiasm comes out in the post and generally leads to a sale or two.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Save Even More Money With eBay =-.

June 20th, 2009 | 12:39 AM
wilhb81:

Marketing and promoting are two different things, but we must combine these two stuffs into one, if you want to attract more clients to your website, Mitch!

June 21st, 2009 | 3:18 AM
Mitch:

Absolutely correct, Wil. However, it does change based on whatever it is one is doing.

June 21st, 2009 | 7:41 AM