Jeff: Laura and I stopped for dinner with my parents a couple weeks ago on a whirlwind drive through Virginia (she had to see a Vermeer at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, and we had a client to see near Richmond).
At some point between a second serving of pot roast or a third helping of homemade apple sauce, the conversation turned toward business. After the standard “how are things going” opening lines, my mom went off script, finally asking, “what exactly is it that you do?”
I don’t recall exactly what I told her, though I suspect that I said it probably wasn’t much different from my summer days working on the Merchant Farm.
Most likely I started off trying to define “marketing” while trying to explain how building websites and managing tradeshow appearances and writing press releases and teaching seminars (I was afraid to mention “webinars”) all tied into it. In the end, I’m sure I wrapped it up neatly, saying “it’s kinda like advertising, but not.”
Since then, Laura reminded me of the late, great PR master Lee Solters and his classic definition:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising.
If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.
If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.
If you get the mayor to comment about it, that’s public relations.
If the elephant walks down neighborhoods with more children and a higher number of former circus attendees, that’s segmentation.
If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and get them to spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
And, if YOU planned the whole thing, that’s marketing!
So, Mom, if you’re reading my blog (like you said you would), now you know what I do for a living. It’s just like when I worked on the farm, only now it’s with elephants!