Welcome to the Circus! Marketing Has a Lot of Tents

Welcome to the Circus Marketing Has a Lot of TentsMarketing has come a long way since the days of P.T. Barnum and his traveling circus. But in many ways, his circus is a great metaphor for what goes on when marketing is understood correctly.

Marketing maven Ron Stein has an illuminating post on this very topic.

No, he’s not the bearded lady. Stein is president of FastPath Marketing and the author of “Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook.”

“Too often marketing is perceived simply as advertising, snazzy logos, or brochure creation,” Stein says. “Some people quickly say the primary task is generating leads to dump into to the sales funnel. Others zero in on public relations and branding.”

But Stein suggests that marketing is like a circus — and the more rings the better. To make his point, he quotes old Barnum himself:

“P.T. Barnum, the American showman and businessman who made the circus what it is today said, “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.”

But wait — there’s more!

“If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go to 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 ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.”

In other words, marketing is like asking a question about the circus: “Do people come to see the elephants, the clowns, the tightrope walkers, or the bearded lady?” To which the answer is: Yes.

Stein cautions marketing execs that what they do is critical.

“Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that marketing is overrated,” he says. “Set a solid strategy, create a plan of action based on your strategy, and put effective systems in place to turn your vision and plan into success.”

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