Why advertising is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.

Ask any marketer what one of their biggest peeves is and they will tell you that it’s the common misconception that marketing IS advertising.

While advertising (i.e. the purchase of promotional opportunities in online and offline media) is one aspect of marketing, it doesn’t fully encompass it. There are many other parts to marketing that make up the bigger picture.

For small to medium technology businesses, they often don’t have in house marketing staff and therefore end up looking for external assistance and advice.

The problem that comes with this is knowing what your company needs. By going to an advertising agency, they may tell you to invest all your marketing spend on visual branding and advertising. This provides a solution to an undefined problem.

Marketing is about understanding the problem and deciding whether advertising is one (of many) solutions.

First, you must identify who your customer is. Taking the time to find out exactly who they are, where they are and what motivates them can create a solid niche market for you.

By targeting a specific, niche market that you are confident in that they are the right group for the product will have a much greater effect than trying to sell to everyone. Once you have saturated that market, you find another to move onto.

The second is determining what problem you are solving for your customers. People don’t buy an electric blanket because it’s an electric blanket; they will buy it to solve their problem of being cold at night.

The same is true for technology products. People won’t buy your CRM just because it allows you to integrate with the accounting system; they will buy it because they need to gain visibility over their customers in order to run their business more efficiently.

Finally, you need to determine the value proposition for your customers. What makes your offering different to that of the competition? Competition isn’t necessarily direct competitors either, it can come from a completely different product that solves the same problem.

Returning to the electric blanket example, competition can come from a hot water bottle as it keeps the bed warm at night. Define why your customers should want to buy your electric blanket over other electric blankets and bed heating alternatives.

Once these fundamentals are set, use them to guide the rest of your marketing activity. This is where advertising can come into the mix. By jumping straight to advertising, you are missing the information required to focus and sell your product or service to a specific, targeted market.

So while advertising is important, it isn’t marketing. Marketing is a much wider practice with advertising as only one piece of the puzzle. To be successful at selling your technology offering, start with the fundamentals of marketing and then work up from there.

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