More than 12 years ago a Marketing Professor claimed business owners should look at their business as a layered cake. She did this in a late evening lecture with more than 100 hungry people.

Advertising is just icing on the cake” she said.

She went on to explain the age old idea of Kotler’s 4Ps of marketing. She went on to say that without the first three layers – product, price, placement, no advertising campaign, no matter how creative, could guarantee ROMI.

Fast forward to today. Her words come to mind each time a stakeholder asks for an advertising campaign without them having a go to market strategy with business goals and marketing objectives. They expect the icing on the cake to be enough and replace all the other layers. But it doesn’t. All good cooks will tell you that if the first layer – the product, in our scenario, is too soft, all the layers on top of it will succomb and the heavy icing will come tumbling down on your plate because it is too heavy.

Now the analogy makes more sense than ever.

If you put all your efforts into the ad campaign, but you do not develop the product to be a good market fit, with the right pricing and and the right moment for promotion, as well as placement of your product, ads will not do anything for you. I cannot do anything for you as a social advertising professional. You as a business owner cannot blame me or the marketing channel for this.

What can you do? Work on the product, price and placement, of course. AND share all of that know-how with me. That way the icing I create can work to enhance everything that you built, not become too expensive or complicated for the layers supposed to support its weight.

Here’s a top of mind list of questions that might help some of you create your cake and eat it, too:

  • What is SO special about your product/solution? Why would someone buy it? Why wouldn’t they?
  • What are the direct & indirect competitors and what is the added value your product/solutions bring?
  • Where and to whom do you want to sell? Are there any specificities that you need to understand? How about your advertising team, do they understand?
  • Where can people buy your product? In what conditions? Online/offline? Discounts available? Partnerships?
  • I you only sell online. how good is your website? How is the user experience with your website? (Unfortunately, far too often websites load way too slow, do not provide much needed prodyct info, do not engage and convince them of why they should trust the brand and products)

That’s it. My quick Friday rant down memory lane. Hope it helps someone out there. It definitely helped me vent. Now, let me go eat some real cake. 🙂