Almost 10 years ago, when it was a popular thing to do, I introduced a new website based on a lot of articles I’d written on the topic of smoking. I’d written the articles for someone else who’d asked for 20 of them, but when he decided he only wanted 7, I kept them all for myself and create the website.
I introduced the website on this blog and some of the visitors here went to check it out. During the discussions that took place afterwards, one of the commenters asked if I had ever used any of the products I was promoting on that site to help people stop smoking, to which I had to say “no”; 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. I’m going to tackle it now… all these years later! 🙂
A caveat; I’m one of those people who gets fairly precise on terminology. This means to begin with, I’m going to define a couple of terms.
Let’s talk about the concepts of “promotion” and “marketing” When one “promotes” something, they’re supposed to be telling you that something is good based on their own experiences and they’re recommending it. When someone is “marketing” something, they may or may not have any personal knowledge of “it”, but they’re trying to sell it anyway.
This is an important distinction for this particular discussion, one that I’ve rarely made over the years when I’ve talked about marketing. I did touch upon it once in an article titled Product Creation, Marketing, Promotion And Sales, but normally I talk more about marketing than promotions; let’s talk a bit more about both.
I set that smoking site up to market anti-smoking products because they fit within the theme of the articles. I certainly couldn’t have promoted any of them, as I mentioned earlier. That’s how I addressed both comments, since the topic was the same. In my eyes, promoting a product is what I did with Mailwasher, which I still promote over there to the right (underneath my YouTube link). The articles old but the products been updated; I paid for a lifetime subscription and I couldn’t be happier!
Let’s ask two questions.
One, can someone market a product they know nothing about? Sure they can; most of us do it via our blogs and websites. Most of affiliate marketing is sharing products never used by those talking about them, even if they’re trying to tell you they have tried them out. To verify this, take a few lines of copy from one, put it in Google between quotation marks, and see how many times the exact same phrase comes up. lol If we run Adsense we do it all the time, though not consciously.
Two, can someone promote a product or service they know nothing about? They can try, but it’s not going to feel the same.
The reason promotion works so well and is sometimes hard to do is because people know these things more intimately than they do when it comes to marketing.
For instance, I’ve already told you about Mailwasher above, but I’ve also talked about Fitbit and Myfitnesspal. I’ve talked about how much I walk, how much weight I’ve lost and how I gained control of my glucose levels (being diabetic). I could talk about those things for a week and never lose any passion about extolling their virtues.
When it comes to promoting ourselves, many of us are way more hesitant than we probably should be. As I came across another article on Twitter over the weekend where this guy wrote about 49 of the most knowledgeable bloggers, once again I was dismayed not to see my name in the list. After all, out of 1,802 articles on this blog, 530 of them are specifically about blogging. Many of the people on the list hadn’t written even 100 articles; not condemning them, just wanting to be on the list with them. 😀
As a consultant, I write a lot of articles on my business blog showing my proficiency in my fields of expertise, but I write few promotional articles about myself. It feels… well… desperate, and I should know better. After all, if you clicked on the link above about marketing, you see I said I felt it was the most important thing for individuals to do. However, if I was to get a do-over I’d probably change it to promotions since I think I’ve got the marketing thing down.
A quick point about marketing; you can market things you actually know a lot about. The problem is if you’re serious about it, you should probably be promoting it. This works best if you’re talking about services you can provide. When I used to market writing services back in the day, I didn’t get into a lot of detail and I certainly didn’t write about it with passion. I made enough to pay bills at the time, but if I’d promoted rather than marketed I might have made a lot more money than I did.
That’s my take on the difference between marketing and promoting. I’d love to hear your take on it.