Over the years, I’ve seen many people using the terms “Marketing” and “Advertising” interchangeably. They are connected but very different animals. Marketing as the root word implies, is a function that focuses on the marketplace either for a business or a non-profit. So what’s a market? Well, to give you a simple answer, it is the space where your product and/or service can fill a need. Sometimes this space isn’t as obvious as you might think. In 1995 Polaroid Cameras did a study in their European market. When the 18-30 year old bought their camera they would take them to parties and make them part of their entertainment for the evening. So for this age group Polaroid’s market wasn’t in the camera market-space, it was in the entertainment market-space. This was a major insight as Polaroid used this information to create a TV advertising campaign titled, “Live for the moment.” This led to Polaroid seeing their sales double. If you really want to maximize your revenue you have to understand your market. It might be in a different place altogether. Thus how your customer perceives their market should drive how you respond to their needs. In other words, be who your customer needs, not force your brand or product on your customer.
So in the previous paragraph, Polaroid employed a study to find out how their customers in a specific age range was using their product. This resulted in a unique find for them. Only after they did the research did they create an advertising campaign. This campaign was focused on their findings and went straight after their target market of 18-30 year olds. If they were to have just explained about how great their camera is or how many features it has or even given a side by side comparison of another brand, they wouldn’t have come close to the results. This is the power of market research.
Whether you are starting a company soon, are in the start up phase now or are decades in, you can still ask yourself this question. “What is my businesses purpose?” and “Is it defined by my customers needs or by my products or services?” For example, a dance school may specialize in a specific style of dance. They may do well at competitions and even have some students go on to make it in show business. From an owners stand point it would be very easy to advertise, “Best Dance School in town,” or “Learn from the best,” or even “We produce hollywood stars!” But before you go and make that your next campaign, ask your customers why they signed up at your school. The answers might surprise you. In my Martial Arts school, we would ask all of our prospects and customers why they were interested in the Martial Arts. 11 years later, I’ve compiled the data.