It seems all too common for local businesses and organizations in Richmond to confuse marketing and advertising. I wonder if that confusion is affecting our ability to effectively market this community as a whole. Here’s why.
Advertising is mostly about the mechanics of getting the word out. Advertising is buying space on a billboard, taking out an ad in the paper, airing a spot on the radio, or posting about sales and promotions on social media.
Marketing is more about crafting the message that you’re sending (though advertising and other means) about what you do and why it matters. Marketing is telling a compelling story that people can see themselves as a part of.
Some Richmond organizations and business owners seem unwilling or unable to truly invest in promoting their offerings. They may not think they have the budget, they may not see the value, or they may just assume that word of mouth will send clients/customers charging in. At best they have a hard-to-read sign, an outdated brochure or a broken website. Even for the ones that do invest, they sometimes don’t seem to understand that good marketing is about more than just advertising.
Very much related, there’s a dearth of professional marketing experts and services available in Richmond. If you search for marketing firms here, you’ll mostly find folks who do it as a side business to some other primary offering (usually related to technology or advertising). So even a business owner or not-for-profit director who is thoroughly committed to investing in their marketing might have a hard time creating or following through on a marketing plan without turning to experts in Indianapolis, Dayton, Cincinnati or beyond, and at a price that might feel out of reach. Most probably don’t bother, and instead rely on college interns, retired journalists or their IT staff.