Sometimes I hear people saying “I hate marketers. All they do is try to sell their products to me. They are everywhere: in my inbox, social media accounts, tv, newspaper.” To escape from such an intrusion, they use ad blockers, premium version of youtube, streaming services like Netflix and so on. Apparently from the standpoint of consumers everything that is used to promote a product is marketing. This actually shows that marketers fail to express themselves.
We can say that there is a big fallacy here and these examples give us an idea about the perception of marketing. By definition, they are actually confusing marketing with advertising. Unfortunately marketing seems to have been reduced to advertising which irritates people. Companies also play a major role in the formation of this perception; Instead of developing a well-designed marketing strategy, they take the easy way out and buy ads believing they can get people to buy their products.
Marketing vs Advertising
The American Marketing Association defines marketing and advertising as: “While sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually many differences between marketing and advertising. In basic terms, marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels.”
In line with AMA’s definition, the way I see marketing is a systematic process to directly or indirectly reach your potential customers and introduce your brand by telling them effectively why they should buy from you. Drawing their attention to your brand and telling your story effectively is done through various methods. A compound set of these methods is what we call marketing. And yes, advertising is a part of it.
While advertising is very direct, marketing on the other hand takes time, hard work, continuity and consistency.
Take social media platforms for an example. They are used for both direct and indirect marketing. You can publish ads on instagram as well as you can build a fancy page without paying a penny and grow your audience. While your posts are displayed to everyone from anywhere, ads are displayed only to those who you target which is good for addressing the right audience.
Marketing is a process to create interest in your proposition carried out with various inbound and outbound marketing means like commercials, print ads, billboards, trade shows, B2B platforms, emails, blogs, social media activities, events, free copies of helpful guides, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, videos, influencer marketing, podcasting, social responsibility projects. As you see, advertising is just one tool of the overall marketing process. It’s a never ending project especially in the age of fierce competition where there is a continuous threat of new entrants and substitutes.
Marketing For Exporters
In marketing there is not such an approach as one-size-fits-all. This is what makes it so complicated. After all you have a specific goal set to achieve and that goal brings its own requirements, and you have to adapt your marketing activities according to those requirements.
As an exporter, your target market is probably more than one and these markets have their own unique characteristics. The most important point that distinguishes foreign trade from domestic trade is the size of the marketing area. While domestic trade concentrates on one country, foreign trade’s marketing strategy requires it to be detailed and tailored for every single market. Can you imagine how big your advertising budget would be if applied to all target countries?
There are multiple variables involved here: the native language, advertising channels and costs. I’m not saying ads are out of the question. After a deep market research, you can find out that some of them require digital ads or the like. In that case, paid advertising surely makes perfect sense. In short, the key is to define what the given market wants and act accordingly.
Long story short; while advertising is trying to reach out to people who may be interested in your offer, marketing is trying to make people who are in need of your product find you. It is a process to make your brand known to your audience. In this process you try to relay the message why they should buy from you instead of others, what is it that makes yours distinctive.
What’s more, marketing in essence helps you to inform people about your brand’s value proposition, vision, why it exists and what it stands for. You can only introduce your brand to people through marketing. So make it smart, effective and be understood right.