What is “marketing” exactly?
Here’s the skinny on what a marketing agency actually does (and why you need one).
The term marketing kinda sounds like one of those buzzwords that corporations throw around to make themselves look important. (You know, like “synergy” and “circle back.”)
But marketing is crucial to the health and growth of your business.
Put simply, marketing is anything your business does to attract customers and increase sales. And while you could do this yourself, there’s a lot to be said for having a marketing agency there to guide you along.
In this blog post, we’ll describe what marketing is, what a marketing agency does, and why having the assistance of a professional is your best chance at reaching your marketing goals.
What Is Marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association:
“Marketing is 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.”
Or, to make it less “buzzword-y”: Marketing is anything a business does in order to attract customers and increase sales.
Or again, to make it even shorter: Marketing is attention.
Since turning a profit is probably your #1 reason for operating a business—and customers and clients are a necessary part of that process—it’s safe to say that marketing is arguably the most important work you do.
Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference?
“Attracting customers…increasing sales…Isn’t that just a fancy word for advertising?”
Yes and no.
Advertising is only one type of marketing. It involves creating ads and placing them where potential customers will encounter them. Think of a TV commercial, magazine ad, radio spot, or billboard.
Marketing is a much bigger concept. While it can involve ads, marketing encompasses a broad range of strategies—email campaigns, blog posts, networking, packaging design, even customer service.
Many experts categorize marketing into different categories, known as the 7 Ps:
- Product – the product or service you offer
- Price – how much you’re charging
- Place – where you can be found
- Promotion – how you communicate about the product
- People – who is working for you
- Process – how you provide your product
- Physical Evidence – proof of how the customer benefits
Each of these facets need to be considered to create a functional marketing plan. Advertising is just one piece of the puzzle.
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What Does a Marketing Agency Do?
It takes both effort and skill to do marketing properly, which is why many businesses turn to a marketing agency.
Marketing agencies are basically freelance marketing departments and they can be as involved in your marketing efforts as you need them to be.
Some things a marketing agency might do are:
- Web Design & Development
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
- Email Marketing
- Graphic Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Long-Term Planning & Strategy
Some marketing agencies focus on a specific type of marketing.
For example, Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company, which means we’re focused on web-based marketing, such as website design and SEO services. Other marketing agencies may focus more on advertising or Public Relations.
Before hiring a marketing agency, you should first decide the type of marketing you want to attempt, then find an expert in that field.
Why Should You Hire a Marketing Agency?
Allow us to answer your question with another question:
Why should your customers hire you?
Is it because you’re an expert in your chosen field and you can do the job better than they can? Is it because you’re better than the alternatives? Is it because your customers don’t have time to do a job that you’re uniquely qualified to do?
Hiring a marketing agency is no different.
Marketing agencies are experts in whatever form of marketing they specialize in. They have the time and resources to devote to a task that’s more time-consuming than most business owners realize.
And they’re a lot cheaper than an in-house Marketing Department.
How to Choose a Marketing Agency
This is not a decision to be made lightly! The success of your marketing efforts depends entirely on the skill of the marketing agency you choose.
First, consider the experience and skill of the agency. Many marketing agencies tend to specialize in a specific industry, such as chiropractic care or hospitality. When your agency doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, you’ll get better results.
Ask to see a portfolio of their past work. This can give you a good indication of what type of results to expect.
Second, look at the way the team communicates. If it’s difficult to get a clear answer (or any answer at all) before you sign a contract, imagine how hard it will be to deal with them once they’ve gotten your money.
Finally, make sure they fit into your budget. Setting a small business marketing budget should be more about investing in your business than “trying to get a great deal,” but this also means getting the biggest return on your investment.
When interviewing prospective marketing agencies, ask plenty of questions to make sure you’re clear about what you’re getting from them.
While “getting the word out” is important, there are a lot of things that a good marketing strategy needs to accomplish if you want it to be successful.
Not only that, marketing needs to be involved in every facet of your company and every decision that you make.
From setting price points to hiring employees and beyond, marketing is how you make sure the right customers don’t just find you, they’re convinced to buy.
Sound great? Let’s talk!
Clarity Creative Group has been marketing small- to mid-sized businesses since 2009—and we brought receipts. If you’re looking to branch out into the digital space (or amp up your existing efforts), our tried and true strategies will help you get there.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.