Jim Kukral Answers the Question: What is Marketing?

What is marketing? Most small business owners know what it is, but they are typically too close to their brands to realize exactly what it is their customers value most about their product or service. Even worse? Some barely understand what marketing is at all. That’s okay, though, because author and entrepreneur Jim Kukral sits down with Small Business Trends Executive Editor Shawn Hessinger, to share some amazing tips that will open your eyes to a whole new way of marketing your business you never even thought of before.

Check out this edited transcript of their discussion on the latest episode of Small Biz in :15.

You can also check out the full conversation above or listen to it on SoundCloud below.

What is Marketing?

Shawn Hessinger: We have this idea of differentiation, of setting yourself apart from the competition, which I think is harder than most people realize. I think that a lot of people don’t realize just how hard it is to distinguish yourself from what everybody else is already doing.

Jim Kukral: Well, businesses and people are too close to their own brands. You’re good at being, you know, a painter; you’re not a marketer, though. That is one thing I realized in 25 years of doing this is — first of all —people hate marketing. It’s a bad word, right? And nobody wants to be a marketer.

There’s a slide deck I used to use in presentations of the 25 most respected jobs. At the top was a nurse, and somebody who runs a charity. And at the bottom — right above attorneys — was marketer. They don’t like that idea. But the concept is that you have to like marketing. And to say that you have to be a marketer when you’re good at painting houses is ridiculous.

And you’re also too close to your own brand. You may talk to people every single day, but at the end of the day, you don’t think like a marketer, so you don’t know why people are choosing you.

A great example is Nike. Nike doesn’t sell golf balls. Nike doesn’t sell tee shirts. They sell winning. Okay? You don’t sell what you think you do. A painter doesn’t sell straight lines, right? A painter sells the ability to improve a beautiful home or whatever they’re painting. But they also sell comfort. You’re inviting a person into your home. That’s why professional companies still wear uniforms and have scheduling apps and used an upgrade because you’re inviting a person into your home.

Also, you may think you sell something different, but the customer wants to feel safe.

So, a person in the suburbs might go, “Yeah, well, this company is $200 cheaper, but I don’t want those people walking around in my house because, you know, they got a dirty old van or whatnot.” You know, it’s why people make decisions on purchases, things like that. Therefore, there are differentiators, and you don’t have to be a marketer to do it.

Shawn Hessinger: The other thing you were talking about was not just stories, but actually what you do. And the idea that most people will say they do all want the same thing as everybody else, that they’re not really thinking about how they’re actually differentiated. I mean, there are not that many businesses that are total commodities. I can’t tell you the number of business consultants and or advisors I’ve worked with, but I never met two that have the same piece of advice, anyway. So I’m not sure why people think that when they’re doing their marketing — all of a sudden they forget what their differentiation factor is.

Jim Kukral: When you talk about being too close to your brand, those are the things you miss.

And if you don’t talk to your customers, you’ll never know.

Shawn Hessinger: People don’t think of that as marketing, do they? What you were saying about people don’t like marketing probably because they don’t even know what it is.

Jim Kukral: No, people don’t. They think marketing is creating an ad or flier in the old days. But nowadays things are different, right? Nowadays, it’s digital and word of mouth. The digital water cooler is your phone and social media now. It’s not the phone book anymore like you and I grew up with. Now it’s who’s your plumber on Facebook, Google Maps or you ask your phone — Try me, Plumbers Near My location — that’s how marketing works now.

By the way, marketing is having reviews because people are like, “Okay, well, there are five plumbers here. And this one has more reviews on Google than the other one. You know, this one’s got an easy website and a web app. You know, this one has an app that I can download that’s going to do this and this. The other one’s going to make me call and do all this.”

You know, tow truck companies are a perfect example of this. If you ever have to call for a tow truck company now, it’s all digital. You don’t call the tow truck person. You can, but it’s all done by an app now by most people. You go to see where the tow truck is — it’s like an Uber. You go to find out the following: is it going to be at your location soon? How long is it going to take till it gets to you? It’s not like you’re sitting on the curb smoking cigarettes for three hours and waiting for them like in the old days. That’s how it used to be.

Now, the people with all the money, they’re not doing business with old pick up the phone and wait for three hours for them to show up — they’re doing business with the one that has this, and that’s marketing. That’s having that ability to communicate that you have an app, and you’re doing all this stuff.

Want to Own the Competition? Stay Tuned

Be sure to stay tuned and watch the entire video to find out other lighting bolts of wisdom and what “aha” realization nuggets Jim Cooper shares with us that can give small business owners an edge and differentiate themselves from the competition. ***Spoiler*** they are things that most people, maybe 99% of the people that you talk to, never think about in terms of differentiating their business. It may even help you own the competition, so there’s that amazing aspect.

Well, small business readers, we hope you enjoyed this episode of Small Biz in:15. If you like that, be sure to check out our article Marketing 101, where beginner entrepreneurs and owners can reference the marketing strategies, tools, tips and advice to get their businesses started.

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Holly Chavez Holly Chavez is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 2 years. She is also a successful copywriter for marketing agencies and private firms. Holly has contributed to various publications and news websites and is a former entrepreneur and industrial engineer who has worked for two decades in the manufacturing and logistics industry.