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In today’s environment, this question often comes up.  Considering the US is the home to approximately 30 million small businesses (less than 500 employees), it’s safe to say the competition is high.  

It is also taking into account that a business’s success is only as big as its sphere.  If a small business owner’s sphere consists of only family and friends, the business probably will not last.

When speaking of marketing and branding, it’s important to know that there is a difference while they go hand in hand.  Marketing makes the business visible; branding makes the business memorable.

Marketing:

Marketing expands your reach.  It allows the business to reach and connect with people outside of the business’s sphere. Marketing grows the business. The primary way of getting and connecting with people is through the internet.  Today, social media sites, blogs, and campaigns are the ‘norm’ for reaching and connecting with people.

Reaching and connecting with people through the internet is also easier than using traditional marketing techniques that are laborious and produce much smaller results.  Through digital technology, once the information is loaded, it can be pushed to people throughout the entire world or a designated area much more efficiently and effectively.

Branding:

Because the goal of branding is to make the business memorable, more thought and preparation are required for branding. Cohesiveness and consistency are the key players when branding a business.

Cohesiveness brings it all together.  The company’s name, domain name, business cards, email addresses, company number, colors, and logo should all be cohesive and in sync.  For example, Coca-Cola has survived and thrived over the past several decades.  We can all identify with the classic script that Coca-Cola uses as its logo.

Consistency gets recognition.  The internet is an excellent place to market.  However, it is also loaded with all the competition.  There is so much information on the internet that one can get overwhelmed.  Consistently feeding the internet is a key player in keeping the company fresh and positioned higher in search feeds.  

Costs:

Marketing and Branding are a science requiring a lot of work and expertise.  The cost of marketing can be significant for a small business owner or start-up.  However, it is an essential and proven tool for success.  It’s best to have a budget set aside for marketing.  There are also plenty of resources available for small businesses and start-ups.  A great place to start is with the Small Business Administration.