If you’re the owner of a business that is 5 years or older, you are obviously doing many things right. It takes real know-how to keep a business sustainable. Good for you – no, great for you! Many businesses never make it past the 5-year mark.

So how do you springboard from your current success? How do you continue growth so that your business prospers even more?

It always amazes me how many successful businesses don’t take marketing seriously. Either that or they don’t understand it well enough to evaluate if what they are currently doing actually is “marketing”. It stands to reason that no one knows your business better than you do. However, when it comes to marketing, many business owners tend to have a misconception of what marketing really is, how it works and how much it costs.

To help explain this common marketing pitfall, here’s what marketing isn’t.

Marketing isn’t inexpensive. It isn’t a business card. It isn’t a logo and no, it isn’t a website. If that were the case, then crowdsourcing would rule the industry!

Instead, marketing is a professional vocation that takes a look at any business or brand holistically. Business owners should take more care about entrusting their business to just anyone. Just because you can write, doesn’t make you a writer. Just because you can draw, doesn’t make you a graphic designer and just because you have profiles on Facebook and Twitter, doesn’t make you a social media expert.

Marketing definitely includes all of the aforementioned skills. However, marketing a business involves much more. Marketing is about defining your promise to your audience as well as your ability to articulate it succinctly to them. It’s about developing how your business will be perceived from a simple leave behind, visiting your website or receiving a direct mail piece.

From the get-go, marketing is about determining your definition of success for your business. It’s about setting clear objectives and then formulating a plan to achieve those objectives. Once you outline a plan, you must keep in mind that every initiative you implement, (from business cards to direct mails or even your website), needs to feed into your business position and promise.

Business owners don’t usually think twice about the expense of hiring a certified accountant. But, they won’t usually invest the appropriate amount for their business marketing. Make no mistake, marketing a business properly is an investment. The dollars you spend for your business in marketing, when executed properly, will bring in more business. The old adage, “You have to spend money to make money”, has some truth to it. But you also need to spend the money properly. One of my favourite sayings is, “Spending $1,000 may be more expensive then spending $10,000.” If the $1,000 isn’t attached to a pre-designated outcome and brings your business nothing, then it’s like burning money. If $10,000 is spent with pre-designated objectives and achieves appropriate results, then it’s a good spend.

If you haven’t been already, it’s time to market your business properly. Don’t get caught unaware of this marketing pitfall. After all, doesn’t your business deserve better?