What Is Marketing?


I often see the question “What’s the difference between marketing and advertising?” posted on chat groups and discussion boards. Do you know the difference? Or is there one?

Advertising is a part of marketing – a subset of marketing, if you will. It is the portion of marketing that includes purchasing space in various media (TV, radio, billboards, online, Yellow Pages, sky writers, etc….) to broadcast a message. The message can be meant to build brand awareness, develop good will, increase sales, introduce something new, polish a reputation, encourage a good deed, or whatever other message the business purchasing the time deems appropriate.

OK, so if that’s advertising, then what’s the difference between that and marketing?

Marketing is pretty much everything that a business does to encourage people to do business with it. Every decision has some sort of marketing impact. Don’t think so? Well, what about…

The packaging can help someone at the market decide which of two seemingly identical products from two different companies priced the same to buy. A guy might purchase the camouflage one, while the girl will gravitate towards the flowery one.

That last employee you hired – the one who has the skills but also an attitude – is s/he bringing in business or driving it away when in contact with customers. And if s/he’s not in contact with customers, is s/he making your customer contact employees unhappy and disgruntled?

Prices have to go up because your supply chain raised their prices on raw materials.  How does this impact getting new customers? What will it do to reorders?

You found a storefront at a great price. Your customers will love it because it will help you keep your prices down. So what if it costs them $10/hour to park and then they have to walk 2 blocks to get to your store? They’ll still come…right?

Are you a trial lawyer that dresses like a throwback to a 60’s flower child? That will have an impact on who will hire you.

There are very few business decisions you need to make that don’t have some impact on marketing because they have some sort of an impact on your current or potential customers. Believe it or not, even the paper you choose to print your invoices on can impact your marketing. Are you a company that is proud of it’s green approach to business? Better make sure that what little paper you do use is made of recycled content because your green conscious customers will notice.

Marketing  – it’s everywhere and in practically every business decision you make.


Are You Delivering on Your Promises?


Every business has something that they are promising, along with the product or service itself. The item will work better or faster. It will last longer. You will receive it within a certain timeframe. It will save you money. It will make you money. It’s available immediately. Something in your life or business will improve dramatically. You will arrive on time. The list of possibilities goes on and on.

Have you ever looked at it from the customer’s perspective, though? Are the explicit or implicit promises you make the same ones that your customer hears? Are they important to your customer or are they only important to you?

Let’s look at two examples:

1) I’m a fan of the show Kitchen Nightmares. It always amazes me how in-the-dark business owners can be about their offerings; in this case, it’s usually the quality of the food. Now my husband is convinced that many of these are put-ons, but I know that, even if they are, there are certainly restaurants out there where the food is mediocre at best and sometimes downright close to health violations. Nonetheless, every one of these owners and/or managers is convinced that their food is good and that their house specials are the best-tasting thing around. The fact that there are no customers is a mystery to them. The fact that people who eat there once don’t come back doesn’t even register. Even if they think the food is the better than anything Alain Ducasse could make, the fact that their customers don’t think it’s even good should be more important.

2) I’m into couponing and getting things for free. I’m not one of those “extreme couponers,” but I do get my fair share of deals. One of the local national-chain pharmacies usually has some pretty good deals in their Sunday flyers. I used to go in every week to take advantage. And, yes, I’d usually end up buying a few other things that weren’t on my list. The problem was that, if I wasn’t there by about noon on Sunday (the first day the new deals are valid each week), at least half of the best deals are already gone. If I couldn’t get there until Monday, forget about it. I don’t go every week – in fact, yesterday was the first time I’ve been in about six months. I figured that, since the items I wanted wouldn’t be considered their “best” deals, I might still have a chance on Tuesday. Well, of the three items I wanted, I got two. Not bad, but I won’t be in a rush to go back. Their inventory levels are not where they need to be for advertised items and I feel that they are not fulfilling their promise to me.

From a marketing perspective, it’s important to find out what your customers’ expectations are. What is important to them may be completely unexpected by you. Your promises may not be of any consequence to them.

Once you know what your customers want and need, do your utmost to make those your value-added promises. Once you’ve done that, the only other thing you need to do is keep your promises.

The Stress Card Repurposed


We’ve all seen that stress card, often used as a business card, which shows your stress level when you put your finger on the test button. It turns a color which you match up with the color on the stress level meter and, voila, you know just how stressed you are.


Well, now there’s a new way to use this card that can better relate to your specific marketing needs. For example:

  •  a personal trainer uses this card by substituting the various stress levels with an exercise of the day. Whatever color the button turns is the exercise or muscle group to be worked on that day.
  • a spa uses it to give a discount on their service or package special that day. Each color is a different discount amount or a different service that is discounted.
  • a small restaurant chain puts its different locations on it as a decision maker. As anyone with children knows, it’s almost impossible to get everyone to agree on where to go for a dinner out; this takes the arguments away.
  • a business uses this as a trade show traffic builder – each color on the scale is a different prize you can win when visiting the booth.

There is virtually no end to the possible marketing applications for this stress card. It’s a fun way to take the stress out of your promotional marketing needs!

How would you use it?

If you’d like us to send you a sample, please let us know. Our contact information is available at www.levpromotions.com or you can find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/levpromotions) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/levpromotions).

Is the Customer Always Right?


I often start a seminar/presentation/workshop on marketing by saying, “Your number one marketing tool is great customer service. Without at least good customer service, there’s no sense in spending any time, energy or resources on any other marketing avenues. You should take the money you’ve allocated to marketing and put it in your pocket because you’ll need it when you go bankrupt.”

So you get the message that I am a huge believer in great customer service as a marketing tool?

I’ll bet you wouldn’t think that I’m also a complete non-believer in “the customer is always right” school of thought. After all the customer can’t always be right. They don’t usually understand what is and is not possible when making demands upon you. They may not understand the legal ramifications of what they are requesting. They may simply not be willing to pay a fair price for what you are offering. There are a myriad of reasons why the customer isn’t always right.

Here’s my absolutely true story:

I was working as a front desk clerk at Bally’s hotel in Las Vegas. I was checking in a gentlemen one evening. After completing the process and handing him his room key, he asked me for the time. I told him that it was 6:10 pm. He checked his watch and told me that he didn’t want the time in Los Angeles, he wanted to know the time in Las Vegas. I told him that 6:10 was the local time. He proceeded to tell me that my watch must still be set to L.A. time, since we all work in Las Vegas, but live in L.A.; so what is the local time? After going back and forth with him for several minutes, I realized that he was convinced that there is a time difference between California and Nevada. No amount of assuring him that we all do live in Las Vegas and do not commute ten – twelve hours every day did the trick. Not knowing exactly what to do to make him happy, I looked at my watch and realized that we had been going around and around with this debate for ten minutes, as it was now 6:20 pm – that’s when inspiration struck. I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, you’re right. I forgot to adjust my watch today. It’s 6:20 in L.A. which makes it 6:23 here in Vegas.” He thanked me and walked away happy. I could rest easy knowing that the three minute difference wouldn’t cause him any serious problems for his travel plans.

What I learned that day is that the customer isn’t always right, but that we need to find a way to make the customer satisfied with the answers and solutions we present to them so that they feel in the right.

I’d love to hear your crazy customer service stories. I’ll bet you’ve got them!


Are You a Salesperson or Someone Who Is Good at Making Sales?


I am often asked how do I like being in sales? It’s a valid question; after all, part of my job is to sell promotional products.

When I am asked this, I always think back to my days as a Front Office Manager for an upscale resort. My General Manager sent me on a sales blitz to Toronto. Now this is normally the job of someone in the sales department, not the front office; nevertheless, he sent me for some strange reason. (Personally, I think he wanted me to fail so he could find a reason to fire me.) They armed me with a video of the property, which I didn’t have time to preview before I got on the plane.

When I got to my first appointment, I popped the video in ready for it to showcase my beautiful property and all its amenities. Well, the video was horrible. To make matters worse, we had changed names about 6 months previously and this still had our old name plastered all over it. I was embarrassed and not really sure how I was going to get through the remainder of this presentation, let along the eleven remaining ones that were scheduled for me over my three day trip.

When the video ended, I explained that the video they had just seen didn’t come close to capturing the beauty of the property – the elements of privacy, beauty, calm and the many small surprises to be found around our 43 acres. The bored looks turned into looks of interest and I had more questions than I had time to answer them.

I didn’t use the video again. Instead, I showed pictures of the property that I had with me and told my audiences about it. I always had questions and comments about how beautiful it was.

When I returned to work, the Sales Director told me that they had already received five calls requesting more information about booking a group at our property and one proposal was already being drafted. Needless to say, I wasn’t fired.

This particular sales blitz was a group of Sales Managers (and me) from different upscale resorts around the US which were all affiliated with the Preferred Hotels group. I received three phone calls the week I returned offering me a job as a Sales Manager at three of the other properties that had been presenting alongside me. They couldn’t believe I was “wasting my time” as a Front Office Manager. I never even considered any of these positions; after all, I wasn’t a salesperson.

I still don’t consider myself a salesperson. What makes me successful in making sales is the passion I bring to the table when I speak about a product or service I believe in. Ultimately, my clients know that my job is to sell them my products and services. They also know that, when I am recommending products and/or services to them, it’s because I believe that it will work for them. My belief in and excitement about their potential results shows and they start to believe that it’s not just another marketing method, it’s a viable opportunity for growth.

If you’re not passionate about what you sell, then why are you selling that product/service?