Marketing: What's It All About?!

Written By: Peter Spanyi
The Graphix Works
Originally Published in the March 1995
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


As an Allied member of NOTO I often speak with business people both locally and throughout Northern Ontario regarding their marketing efforts. When I mention this word many of these people think I’m referring to advertising. I want to clear the air right from the start and tell everyone that marketing and advertising are not interchangeable words. Advertising is only a small part of your entire marketing plan.

Marketing, in fact is comprised of four elements, more specifically the 4 p’s of marketing. These 4 p’s are product, price, place and promotion. Each of these elements have an enormous impact on your business especially depending on how each element is approached.

Let’s start with the product. This is what you have to offer the potential vacationer or customer. As an example if you are strictly an American Plan Lodge, you probably won’t attract the market segment that’s looking a place where they can cook their own catch, or barbecue their own steaks and pork chops. Your product offering is a very large part of your marketing, it will determine who contacts you.

Price is the 2nd p in the 4p’s and again your pricing dictates who your customer base will be as well as how you are perceived by the marketplace. If your pricing is such that you are offering a weekly cottage rental for $150.00, then you won’t see a lot of people pulling up to your camp in BMW’s. Without offending those camp owners who have cottages for this price, the old adage of you get what you pay for comes into play. It’s therefore very important to understand who you want to attract through your pricing strategy.

The third element is place. How you portray the location of your business and the actual location will again play a big role in what market segment you can attract. Being secluded in the extreme wilderness of northern Ontario probably won’t make you a prime candidate for a family looking to combine some shopping with their beach front holiday, because you’re 700 miles away from the nearest metropolitan area and the only beach you have is the slides you show of your recent trip to Florida. Now don’t get me wrong there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in a secluded wilderness location, there’s a huge market of sportsmen and sportswomen looking for the get away from hustle and bustle type of holiday. But, it all comes back to the way you market your location.

Finally, the last element is the one which I hope to think I know the most about and want to talk about at length. After all, I can make suggestions to you on the product, place and price aspects of marketing, but it’s really up to you to know your own business and who you want to attract at what price. It’s how to attract them that is vital to the success of your business. That’s where its important to rely on the expertise of an advertising agency. After all that’s what they specialize in. I always tend to fall back on the example of large multinational corporations when it comes to the promotion aspect of marketing. These large companies such as McDonald’s, Nike, IBM, etc… rely heavily on ad agencies to not only design their advertising, but also to develop budgets and strategies. They do this because they recognize that their time is better spent focusing on what they understand, their product, price and place. Now I know what you’re thinking, we don’t have the money that these companies have to spend and I agree. You don’t, but you do have a proportionate amount. These large corporations spend a percentage of sales on promotion, and so should you. Those of you who say we can’t afford to advertise should take a look at your neighbour who does it all, goes to sports shows, has a professionally designed brochure, places ads in all the industry magazines, etc… Chances are the benefits they are realizing far exceeds the costs involved because advertising and promotion in general are investments, not expenses. You might ask why, the answer is simple, our world is driven by advertising and other promotion based activities.

Anyhow lets get back to the general concept of promotion. There are many elements of promotion open to all business owners. Advertising is only one aspect. It’s very likely that you already are involved in many others. When a potential customer calls you on the phone you are then engaging in another aspect of promotion, that being personal selling. This is something you probably do every day at your business. Another example of personal selling is your booth at the Sports Shows you hopefully attend. I say hopefully because Sports Shows are an integral part of your continued success. The more shows you attend, the larger your potential market. If you’re one of those people who say Sports Shows don’t work for me, it’s very likely you don’t incorporate personal selling at the show. Simply sitting there hoping someone will come up and say I’d like to book a cottage doesn’t cut it. Ask anyone who does half a dozen shows a year.

Advertising is by far the largest part of the promotion mix and it involves all of those things which your potential market sees and reads about your business. Your brochure and magazine ads are the biggest part of this. Simply taking a few pictures to the corner print shop and getting the cheapest brochure you can isn’t always going to cut it. The literature you hand out is an extension of your business. I always tell people I talk to the same thing. When the thousands of people you see at the Sports Shows go home your brochure is all that you’ve got going for you and if it isn’t as good as the one your competitor is using, chances are your competitor will gain the upper hand. This is also true of everything you do in your promotion mix. I’m a strong believer in if you’re going to do it, then do it right or don’t do it at all.

I could go on to say a lot more, but let it suffice that marketing your business is more than just advertising, it’s everything you have, say and do.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions on marketing at (905) 687-8778 or toll-free from (705) 1-800-665-4739. 


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