Two decades ago, as a small business, you couldn’t do much marketing. It was simply too expensive. Printing ten thousand leaflets and dropping them in people’s mailboxes? Advertising on the radio? Promoting on a billboard? All too expensive. All you did was rely on your Sales department. They were responsible for meeting potential customers and moving the dial. Marketing was a big company luxury!

But then came the Internet and everything changed. With tools such as Google and Facebook even the smallest business can now do marketing. All you need is a website or Facebook page and as little as R100 to promote it. The Internet has literally “democratized” marketing. Now everyone can do it.

The marketing trend has even gone beyond the normal focus on end-users, or so-called business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, to include small business-to-business (B2B) companies such as engineering and accounting firms who traditionally stayed away from marketing!

So here we are. Marketing – the smoke-and-mirrors activity of magically making sales appear out of thin air is now available to everyone. And what a mess it is! If you give someone a fishing rod, does that make him a fisherman? No! A fisherman is someone who understands about bait and fish and weather and currents to actually catch a fish.

The same is true for marketing. Having marketing communication tools available does not mean you can successfully market. To do marketing you need a target market, a brand identity, an understanding of the purchase funnel and a marketing message. Only then do we get to the website or Facebook part. No wonder so many business owners don’t see results.

There is a certain magic about catching a fish. You never really know what happens under the surface of the water. The same is true for marketing. But there is a skill to it too.

It is true that you no longer have to only depend on your sales team to make a sale. There is indeed a new weapon available, called marketing tools. But it doesn’t mean you can simply grab this weapon and fire away. You need to first know how to use it!

There is nothing as wasteful to a small business as ineffective marketing activity! We all know that.