Brenda from Phydeaux and Phydelle Designs here, back yet again to talk with you about the management of your online indie business! We’ve been talking about how to spruce up your online shop to increase acceptance into juried marketplaces and exhibits. I detoured a little last week by talking about how to use tags for your shop products, to increase search traffic to your shop. This week, I’m going to talk with you about promoting your business, which may just be the number one topic that business owners want to learn to do effectively!
I’m about to ask you a very difficult question for many to answer. Why is this question difficult? Because so many owners of indie online shops are working with partial, assumptive or second hand knowledge on this topic.
Here’s the question: what is the difference between marketing and promotion?
Now take a minute to answer that for yourself, then read on!
A common topic in online marketplaces forums is promotion. Several times every day, I come across this statement: “I’m promoting like mad” (in the forums, in the chat rooms, on twitter, etc.). I rarely read a similar statement about marketing.
So is there a difference between the two, and if so, what is it?
The American Marketing Associations‘ definition of marketing: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” More simply, everything you do to create value for your actual and potential customers, with return on investment (e.g., sales!).
Promotion, on the other hand, is more about keeping your business fresh on your actual and potential customers’ minds to continue and/or increase sales, via advertising and public relations (according to the Free Management Library).
Marketing encompasses a nearly infinite range of activities! Customer service, communication, focus groups, demographic research, your product descriptions and photos, email newsletters, blogging: these are small pieces of the marketing pie. Promotion is part of marketing, too!
Marketing is something you start to do before you ever open your business. You need to learn about the types of customers who are most likely to buy your products or services: their age ranges and gender, geographic location, interests, likely internet destinations. You want to develope a marketing plan very early in your business venture, which will drive your promotional activities.
You’re not ready to promote until you have a marketing plan (even very basic) and, more important, your shop is set up to retain internet traffic. Promotion costs money and/or time! If you’re paying for web ads, but your shop has just a few items with blurry photos and you have lots of typos in your descriptions, you are throwing good money away! You want a shop that draws visitors in – you don’t want to immediately lose visitors who’ve clicked on your ad.
I’m a huge believer in making promotion work for you, rather than the other way around. Spending hours in online forums and chat rooms with the sole purpose of promoting your business is time that you can spend doing other things: improving your shop, creating new items, market research. If your shop is in good shape, place a few ads that will work for you 24/7! Many online ads are rather inexpensive. If you see traffic and sales from those ads, then they become invaluable, because you have more time to do other things, whether creating or marketing or promoting.
By the way, shop improvement is never done! We’ll talk about “continuous improvement” in business in the near future. Next week, we’ll continue talking about promotion and marketing – both are so important to your business!
Image credit: Pulsating with polka dots, by olivetti