Will My Marketing Idea Work? Advertising vs. PR

Will this marketing idea work? The entrepreneurs I coach ask me this question all the time.  The always intriguing question of where to spend time, energy and resources to ensure people reach out to get to know and buy from us, keeps us up at night. When an entrepreneur asks me this question the term marketing becomes synonymous with advertising and public relations (PR).  All three words are loosely thrown around with an assumption they are the same thing. As I dig into this topic and share experiences, I make sure the three different words are clearly defined to ensure an entrepreneur understands exactally what they want to work.

“Will this marketing idea work?”, really means: “Will my investment of time, energy, money, and people resources produce business now, and forever?”

Marketing is the communication of your message, idea, product, service, company and its culture to your market.  This can be done through various types of communication methods, such as visual, written, auditory, and tactical.  These methods can be combined to form a type of media to communicate your message, such as radio, television, YouTube, the M & E Painting Sign Guy, helping an old lady across the street while wearing your logo on your companies hat, your company landing in the newspaper (hopefully the business section not the police blotter), on television, writing a book, etc.  There are hundreds of medias to communicate your message, and there are two vehicles through which they travel, but only one of these two vehicles, in my experience, works better and long term.

The broke down, rusted out vehicle is paid advertising: your company paying another company (lots of money) to craft a message, offer, coupon, etc. to distribute to your market. Paid advertising does not build trust, it creates awareness.  It is expensive and sucks money as you scale your business. It is a crowded, loud and busy space filled with sharks trying to eat each the same piece of flesh falling to the bottom of the ocean; and, it is just you talking about yourself. (Truth be told, paid advertising does create exposure, so if that’s all you are looking for, this method would work for you.)

The reliable, always running vehicle that builds trust, elevates you and creates faith in your brand is PR, or public relations. PR gets others talking about you so you can stop talking about yourself.  The only investment here is a little time, a great story, and simple action steps that when repeated daily will land you the most credible, trust building exposure for you and your brand. The space is vast, filled with opportunity and is not crowded at all.  As other sharks fight at the bottom for the scraps of flesh falling their way, remember the scraps are produced because PR is that first big meaty chunk sitting at the top of the surface that the informed entrepreneurs grab and chomp up.

Example: Emily and I were featured in Entrepreneur Magazine in August of 2010.  This was a full color piece, with a story (PR) about our company in one of the leading entrepreneurial publications in the world.  We paid $0 for this.  A few pages over, a large franchise company ran a paid piece (advertising) costing roughly $80,000.  Same time, same full color, same full page, same magazine, same audience.  What did I spend? I spent 15 minutes to land this, plus 90 minutes for a really cool and fun photo shoot.

Will this marketing idea work?  What is your intended outcome for building your brand?  What message do you want to communicate to your customers?  How much do you want to pay for it?  Would you pay for it if you could get it for free?  Do you want short term purchase action, long term trust in your brand or both?  Do you want to compete with lots of companies and lots of $$$ trying grab the same customer’s attention? Do you want the big, fat, meaty piece of business, and will you swim to the top to grab it, or would you prefer to fight at the bottom, expending time, energy, lots of money to fight the other sharks? If you want to fight sharks, remember which shark will always win and what that shark must have in the bank. Remember: no matter how much money you put into that old, broken down, rusted vehicle, it ultimately breaks down on you, leaving you feeling abandoned.

Of course, I would never write this blog and not leave you with a way to find out how I landed this big piece of meaty magazine tastiness. Click on the coffee cup and get caffeinated with me on a weekly basis. When you do, I will send you a workbook that details exactally how M & E Painting and I landed some of the countries most coveted small business and entrepreneur awards, and received millions of dollars of exposure for FREE.