Advertising Is Easy – It's Marketing That's Hard…

Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant
Matt Plapp – Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

Many times I hear companies claim their marketing doesn’t work.  They play for me their :60-second radio commercial (WAY TO LONG) or their poorly produced cable spot (which runs next to high def Ikea spots).  Next they pull out the mailer they just sent out to 10,000 people who don’t know their business with a 10% off coupon (10% off???).   Then I break the news to them…THAT’S NOT MARKETING, that’s advertising.  Yes, marketing and advertising are dramatically different.

Advertising is easy, you just purchase a useless ad from the sales person who comes by your store every week with the “Best Deal In Town”, that will not reach your target market and then you put a terrible message on it, or you let the sales rep who just got out of college write it for you.   Marketing on the other hand takes time and effort.

Let me set the scene for you…In June the Cincinnati Reds had a “Skateboard Day” where the first 10,000 kids to arrive at the game received a FREE skateboard deck.  Pretty cool promotion.  Now here is where it gets interesting.  If you have kids or you have ever owned a skate board you know what I’m getting ready to tell you.  The skateboard deck is only a DECK.  You still need grip tape, trucks, wheels and bearings at the very least. If you’re smart you need knee & elbow pads, wrist protectors and a helmet.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, if you own a skateboard shop this is a GOLD MINE.  You get a few of your employees or team skaters together and you head down to Great American Ballpark and you pass out fliers about your shop.  These fliers could have coupons (with more than weak 10% off coupons), surveys to capture your customers info and more importantly an invitation to these new skateboard owners to come to your store.

This is where it gets hard…YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO IT!  Yes, you need to find out about events like this ahead of time, have inventory in stock to meet demand and put a street team together to go to GABP and market your company.  The sad part is most companies don’t do this.

I had mentioned this opportunity to a client of mine from specializes in helping companies market themselves at events like this.  So they called a few skateboard shops in the area and asked if they were heading down to the game.  Not one of them knew about the promotion and when asked if they’d like to help them do this, they said they did not need to do marketing like this?????  One even said “I’m a destination shop, they know where I’m at and they’ll find me”?  How can 10,000 kids and their families know who and where you are!  If that was the case you’d have 20 stores by now and be a millionaire and not driving a 15 year-old ford escort.

So to recap we just talked about the following items:

1.  Find events you can talk to your customers

2.  Plan for these events.

3.  Actually ATTEND and work these events

4.  Ask customers to buy from you with GREAT offers.

5.  Capture as many of the attendees information to build your customer database

That is why marketing is hard; you have to actually do something.  You MUST plan to be successful in marketing your business and you must leave your shop and be creative.  Oh yeah, the kids probably would have talked mom and dad into buying some shoes and a few shirts as well:)

Matt Plapp is a Marketing Consultant in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky  area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at

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