On the way to work the other day, one of our employees heard a radio advertisement from a leading email marketing software company that claimed their solution lets small businesses and non-profits “become marketers.”
This is a PSA for small businesses and non-profits:
Having the right tools to complete marketing tasks does NOT make you a marketer. And that’s OK.
Do the calculators on our desks make us accountants?
Does access to WebMD.com make us doctors?
Of course not. The same is true for marketing tools and software.
As a marketing, digital strategy, and email communications company, we have seen firsthand time and time again what goes down when business owners are handed the keys to marketing tools without proper knowledge and guidance. We’ve pulled back the curtain, asked the tough questions, and tracked the results. Nine times out of 10, their hard-fought efforts are not strategic; they’re not effective; and most of all, they’re not marketing.
To clear things up, here is the official definition of marketing from 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.
The radio ad is not only diminishing the talent and hard work of marketing professionals around the globe, but it’s also detrimental to the small businesses and non-profits it targets. They shouldn’t be worried about “becoming marketers.” They should be focused on running their business. In the end, they struggle because they shouldn’t be trying to DIY something as important as marketing.
Managing and marketing a business are two very distinct roles that draw from different experiences, thought processes, and skill sets. Most small business owners start their companies because they have a special skill to offer; a skill they’ve studied, developed, and honed over time; a skill they should continue to expand and improve upon to keep the business, and their industry at large, moving forward.
Marketing expertise works the same way. It’s not a simple set of tasks that anyone can do if given the right tools. It’s not a Pinterest how-to that you can create in your free time. To be honest, those never turn out how they’re supposed to anyway.
Marketing is an intricate blend of science, art, communication, analysis, psychology, culture, and technical skills. It digs deeper than sales or promotions alone and gets to the root of connecting people with products and filling a need in the marketplace. This takes schooling and training up front, continual practice, and constant continuation of education to keep up with fast-changing times and technologies.
Small business owners and non-profits, if you ever feel the urge to absorb the ever-changing challenge that is marketing, you should either plan to truly invest in developing this specialized skill set, or quickly get to a phone or computer and contact a professional who already has. Do you really need another hat to wear?
To paraphrase the famous quote:
I serve with Marketers. I know Marketers. Marketers are friends of mine. Folks who use software tools without expertise are no Marketers.
So please, stop telling them they should be.