Advertising is not the same thing as marketing. Most of you probably know that, but I thought the terms were pretty much interchangeable until I took a marketing class last quarter. It turns out that advertising is a subset of marketing, which is a much larger endeavor that involves strategizing about every element of the process by which you and your customer trade something of value.
For example, marketing includes deciding exactly what you’re selling, honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses, sizing up the competition, learning as much as you can about your consumer, and strategizing about how to position your product to appeal to him. It includes deciding how to manipulate the four classic variables over which you have control: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Promotion, in turn, is divided into many possible persuasive activities, one of which is advertising. Other elements of the “promotional mix” can include direct marketing, interactive marketing, sales promotion, public relations and personal selling. In other words, advertising is just one tool in what is often a carefully planned and well-orchestrated campaign to convince you to do something.
My goal in taking the class was to backfill what I’ve gleaned from reading advertising books with a solid, basic foundation about the principles of marketing in order to help you create better ad campaigns for yourself. Learning about how all of the pieces above fit together has been fascinating, exceeded my expectations, and certainly will be very useful for our purpose.
In addition, I think I’ve gained an expanded, albeit uncomfortable appreciation for how much the application of these strategies forms the world we live in. I must admit to coming out of the class feeling less agnostic about the evils of marketing, especially after viewing films like The Merchants of Cool and “Toxic Sludge is Good for You”. The latter one pretty much made all of us feel like crawling into a cave and never exposing ourselves to media again!
However I also learned about social marketing – a relatively new field that applies the principles of commercial marketing to problems like AIDS, addiction, and climate change. It’s very exciting to consider applying these powerful strategies to some of society’s most difficult challenges. And since its primary focus is behavior change, social marketing has a lot of insights to contribute to the personal marketing we’re doing here at TBYB!. I’ll be taking another class specifically about social marketing spring quarter.
I’m more convinced than ever that advertising (um, I mean marketing) is where the action is when it comes to understanding how to change human behavior, and therefore those of us who are motivated to grow can benefit greatly from learning about its fundamentals. I’m excited about integrating the insights from learning about marketing theory into Take Back Your Brain!, and am looking forward to strategizing together about how we can devise more effective ways to apply this information to achieve our personal goals.