What Exactly is Marketing?

MARCH 29, 2019

Marketing can be such a nebulous word. It can mean so many different things to different people.

I think marketing means connecting with someone. Connecting with your current customers.  Connecting with potential customers. Even connecting with your employees.So, from my point of view, marketing means communicating with people in such a way that you create a connection.  You create a relatable bond.

You’ve communicated something meaningful, relevant, useful or beautiful to someone such that they want to know more.  Perhaps they feel there is a place for you (your product, your service) in their lives, their work, their homes, their businesses.

In order to communicate clearly, you must cut through the clutter. You must cut your message down to size. You must cut out crap. You must be authentic.  If you do this, you just might stand out in the crowd.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything: details, facts and figures, competition, marketplace, customer feedback, goals, schedules, budgets, payroll. Everything has its place. The challenge is cutting through all of that to find the most relevant stuff as it relates to communicating and connecting meaningfully. It can be easy to miss something critical that’s right in front of you. That’s where the fresh eyes of a marketing and communications partner can help.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

Here’s one final thing to consider: while you’re communicating, take a look at how you are contributing to a better world. How are you giving back to the community? How are you improving the lives of others—customers and employees alike? Think about that. Because the more you contribute, the better the world will be, and the more it will come back to you in abundance.



Choices vs. Options- The Forgotten Marketing Question

Choices vs. Options- The Forgotten Marketing Question

Consider this; you are standing in the beer aisle of your favorite adult beverage emporium or grocery store. Your mission is clear. You're out to grab two different 6- packs of a really nice and very well done craft brew. So there you are, you're looking at that super hoppy IPA that you've had before that you really like. You're checking out that smooth and malty Scottish Ale your friends are always raving about, and of course you're thinking about that crisp Lager that you've been hearing a lot of good things about as well.

And additionally, there is a host of many other beers that you have never tried or even heard of before, but that look very interesting and quite appealing. I mean all told, there must be at least 100 different selections for you to actually consider.

So with that many beers, the question is how many choices do you truly have? Well, if you said you had at least 100 choices, that number would actually be off by at least 98. Because in reality, and because you are only buying two 6-packs, you would really only have two choices; your choice for 6-pack #1 and your choice for 6-pack #2. It would be those two choices though, that would be coming from a number of options that totaled at least 100.

Here's how it works:

Options are the number things that comprise the consideration set from which we are to make a selection. Choices, however, are actually the number of decisions we have to make that are in direct proportion to the number of selections we will make. Simply put, the number of choices we have is equal to the number of decisions we have to make in making a selection. So, if we have to make three selections, that would require us to make three decisions, and thus we would have three choices. Those three choices however could conceivably come from an infinite number of options.

The distinction between choices and options is an important one to understand, and needs to be taken into consideration as marketers. Unfortunately though and sometimes to the detriment of the products or services being marketed, marketers at times conflate choices with options.

Viewing options as choices and vice versa can potentially lead to marketing efforts that leave potential sales and revenue on the table at best, and that produce less than stellar
results at worst.

Consider our beer purchase scenario. As a beer marketer, it's a given that I need to know the factors that influence or drive my customer's purchase decision. As marketers we are very familiar with the term "purchase decision". However, we often leap-frog right over something that we don't really think all that much about. And that is "choice decision." Choice decision is what actually moves a customer's hand to reach for one specific 6-pack over another. And as the decision that comes first, it's the one leads to the "decision" to purchase that particular 6-pack. The number of competing beer options available can make this choice-decision and ultimately the purchase-decision a much more difficult one to make.

When marketers market from the perspective that having options is the same as making a choice, they run the risk of developing marketing strategies that can be misaligned and that possibly miss the mark. Understanding what the customer wants or needs and how that informs their choice decision, and addressing those wants and needs in the marketing, will lead that customer to choose that particular product or service and purchase it, from among the host of other options.

The goal of marketing is to distinguish and differentiate the products and services we market so that they are no longer viewed as being one of the available options, but instead becomes the clear choice. At Black Rhino Marketing Group, this is our focus for our clients.

Marketing Budgets for Businesses

Marketing Budgets for Businesses

MARCH 29, 2019


The big question when it comes to marketing is always, “how much is this going to cost?” Generally speaking, marketing services are perceived as an expensive project and many business owners are hesitant to spend valuable dollars on something that may or may not have the return they hope for.

There are some key things to consider when putting together your marketing budget and finding a marketing partner that will work for you.

Marketing & Advertising line items

Marketing & Advertising are not the same thing. Most business projections have a single category that accounts for both marketing and advertising. And, while they may be related, they are not the same. Simply put Advertising is the amount of money you need to pay to the media you place your campaign in while marketing is the planning, messaging and design behind that campaign. You need both to make a splash, but they really should be viewed as two separate expenses.


Average Budgets

For established businesses,The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue for businesses under $5 million, and closer to 10% for those over $5 million.For new businesses you should be spending somewhere between 12-20% of your revenue or expected revenue. This percentage of revenue should be split between Marketing and Advertising.


Marketing Only portion of budget


The marketing only piece of the budget is around 5% of your expected gross revenue. This 5% should be allocated towards things such as the ongoing marketing implementation of a solid foundational strategy. These are the day-to-day tactics that engage your audience, the advertisements you place with specific media and the tactics like email newsletters, video, content and so forth.  You should expect also to use more than 5% on big projects, such as website updates.

However, spending money on these day to day items will certainly be a waste of funds if you do not have a solid foundation.


Solid Foundation

In order for your day to day activities to perform well, you will need to invest in a solid marketing foundation, which, since it generally includes the necessary larger projects, will usually cost closer to the 10%.

The foundation includes items like Branding, Strategy, Website and Social Media. Working on these items to create a solid strategy that highlights your best target audience, the messaging and branding for those audiences and putting together a roadmap of strategy pieces paired with the big projects like a website will give you a healthy starting point. Once these things are completed, your day to day activities will have a much higher conversion rate.


Consider the cost of client acquisition

When making your marketing budget the most important thing to remember is what your potential ROI will be. Consider what a single new client means to your bottom line. For example: currently you have not built your foundation and you are relying on a sales person to convert customers. You probably see the direct correlation between what you pay that sales person to what the conversion of each customer is. Let’s say you currently spend $2,000 per new customer with your sales rep. and he or she can convert 1 new customer per month. Provided that each new customer is worth more than the $2,000 you spent, you are happy.

But consider this, you built your foundation and were able to add a highly converting website and social media channels in addition to your sales rep. Using the 5% rule, let’s say you spend $1,000 per month on digital media tactics, and can convert 2 additional customers per month. You’ve increased your customers by three times, while only spending a fraction of the cost, and in a shorter time period.

That’s where marketing becomes a savings vs. a spend.

The key is finding a marketing partner who can work with you on the foundational items, but also on a long-term implementation and execution process. This is where you will save the most.