Marketing Myth Number 1: Marketing is Just Another Word for Advertising

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This is perhaps the most common marketing myth and must be debunked right away if you have any hope of accomplishing your business goals.

A belief in this myth necessitates a view of marketing as a tactical function rather than the series of cross-functional processes, approaches and activities that it really is. Yes, advertising (marketing communications) is an essential component of your overall marketing plan, but it is not THE plan – and ideally should account for only 1-2% of your entire marketing efforts. If you devote all of your attention and efforts on advertising activities (e. g. ad copy, sales channels, websites, media, etc. ) you’re putting the cart before the horse and are missing critical issues that may be having a negative impact on your business.

Advertising should never be substituted for the marketing process as a whole. No amount of advertising is going to make up for shoddy workmanship; rude employees or an unpleasant customer experience. It’s like building a house of cards… it may hold up for a little while, but it most certainly will come tumbling down.

You’ve heard of the ‘domino effect’, yes? If all of the dominos are set up correctly then one push and they will all fall into place… achieving the expected result. It all begins with that first domino… it sets up the chain reaction for all the rest. Moreover, if any of the others are out of place the ones after that will not drop. This common, but vivid analogy clearly demonstrates how one element can significantly alter results.

The marketing function can be broken down into two distinct parts – Strategies and Tactics. Strategic marketing defines who you are… It spells out how you differ from your competitors so that your prospects and customers can make wise choices. Additionally, it serves as the working foundation for your entire company. It is the content of your marketing message: what you say, how you say it, and who you say it to.

Tactical marketing (Advertising, Promotions, Sales Materials, etc. ) involves the communication of your strategic plan. In other words, it is the vehicle(s) for delivering your message.

Strategies and tactics will be discussed in much greater detail in Chapters Three through Seven.

Bottom line: You cannot advertise your way to success. If you choose to tell the public how great you are… make yourself great first. The quickest way to kill a bad product, or business, is to advertise it.

Classic Symptoms of a Myth #1 Believer


  • Ignore essential research, analysis, and planning

  • Act like a “show horse" instead of a “plow horse"

  • Think/Say things like, “advertising works" or “you can make a fortune on the Internet"

  • Don’t believe in giving anything away for free

    Mary Eule specializes in helping small and medium-sized businesses get and keep profitable customers. Formerly a Fortune 500 marketing executive; founder of two successful small businesses and award-winning speaker, Ms. Eule is President of Strategic Marketing Advisors, LLC. and co-author of a new book, “Marketing: What it Really Means and How to Make it Work for Your Business". She holds a master degree in marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Log onto for free articles, newsletter and helpful tools, tips and templates.

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