Marketing definitions. 

As marketing is such an important part of making a small business successful, everyone involved in marketing including the business owner should understand these marketing terms. These terms are applicable to tradition marketing as well as Internet marketing and social media.

A-B Testing (also called split testing)

A-B Testing is a marketing technique to test two different versions of a promotional piece, ad, mailing or even web pages.

“A” is the first promotional item with a certain hot button. It is sent out and results measured.

“B” is the second promotional item with a different hot button. It is sent out and the results measured.

If “B” gets better results than “A”, then “B” becomes the new “A” and the current “A” is dropped.

A new “B” is created and the process continues.

Advertising (abbreviation ad)

Advertising is the paid placement of messages delivered via public media to potential customers. E.g. paid ads in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. Traditional advertising promotes products or services for sale, but similar methods can also be utilized for charities or political candidates. In many countries, advertising is the most important source of income for the media.

Ads can be placed in a wide variety of ways such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, billboards, transit advertising, direct mail, point-of-sale displays, sides of buildings, mobile phones and the Internet.

There are two basics costs of advertising:

Creative– the creation of the content including copy writing the message itself, artwork and ad production costs which vary based on the media selected.  E.g. the cost of producing a TV could cost as much or more than the placement costs with a TV station.

CRO – short for conversion rate optimization is a marketing process of increasing the results of converting visitors into customers or getting the visitor to take an action in the sales pipeline such as enrolling in a newsletter, completing an online form or requesting information.

Placement – the placement of the ad in the selected media. E.g. running an ad in a newspaper is often charged by the size of the ad and its frequency.


A site that offers products from a merchant. The affiliate could have a number of ads for products that when clicked take the visitor to the merchant site. The affiliate would get a commission for driving business to the merchant site.


Aesthetics is often associated with the arts but the characteristics of taste, beauty and rhythm can also apply to marketing materials and advertising.

Back links (also called Inbound Links)

These are links coming from another site to your site. E.g. you publish a press release with links in it and syndicate it on the Internet. Google News places it on their site—thus the link points back to your site from Google News.


From the viewpoint of the consumer, what are the strengths or valuable attributes of the product. What the customer gets from the product. Customers are always looking for what’s in it for me? E.g. a skin cream that has Vitamin E is a feature. A benefit could be “prevents ageing” or “makes you look more beautiful” Compare to features.


Short for weblog. A blog is a form of a website that is a personal journal of the blogger. It can provide insight (such as a product review), commentary (political reporting), how to (how to design a website) on every subject known to man. It is a useful tool to create a following online and generates interest.


B2B is business to business marketing. A manufacturer selling to a retailer is selling B2B.


B2C is business to consumer. A retailer selling to a customer is B2C.

Call to action

Specific words that prompt the reader to take action. E.g. “Buy now”, “Call now” or “Order Here”

Case study

A report that details the success of a marketing campaign. It would typically include situation, campaign details and results.


A citation is any mention of your business’s name and address on other websites, even if there is no link leading to your website. An example would be on Yellow Pages online.

Content Marketing

A form of marketing designed to inform and educate customers without being outright promotional. Applies to various media such as ebooks, infographs, text, videos, and presentations.


Conversion means attaining the end result that the marketing action was intending to do. Conversion means different results for different organizations. It could be sales (online clothing store), leads (consulting firm), readership (online magazine), donations (non-profit), subscribers (newsletter), surveys completed (online survey company) or votes (political).


Copywriting is a form of writing to market or promote a product, service, business, person or other concepts. The end result of good copywriting is that the reader (potential customer) takes action such as making a purchase, contacting the company or subscribing to a publication.

It can be also used to get people not to do something e.g.  Don’t throw out newspapers but rather recycle them. Writing the text for promotional materials or ads that gets the consumers attention, generates interest in the product offered and includes a call to action.

CPC (cost per click)

Cost per click. When advertising on the Internet, Google and other search engines offer paid ads which are labelled sponsored links. You pay for each click on your ad.

Customer service

Customer service is the process of looking after customers in a positive way that results in the customer remaining a customer.


Demographics are the attributes of a population or target market such as occupation, marital status, age, sex, education, income level, buying habits and geographic location.

Description tag

A sentence that has compelling copy enticing the reader to click through to the webpage.  Used by the search engines to describe the content of that particular page. Maximum 160 characters for Google.

Direct Mail (also known as direct response)

Marketing directly to buyers by sending advertising to large numbers of potential customers through postal mail or other means.


An online database that has compiled business listings including N.A.P.s and customer reviews – examples of a directory include Yellow Pages online, Yelp, etc.

Duplicate Content

Information that is copied and published directly from a different source without giving credit where credit is due. Google penalizes websites for publishing duplicate content.


A book that can be read online, usually in digital format only. E-books can be read on a desktop computer, a smartphone, a tablet, and an e-reader. Some e-books are only available in that form and are not published in a physical form. This is one way to publish content collected from a Blog with a similar theme and in a way that flows when it’s read online.

E-mail Marketing

A direct approach of delivering messages and services to customers; any e-mail sent to a potential or current customer can be considered e-mail marketing.

Evergreen Content

Information on topics that never expires in being useful. Topical or seasonal in nature, it also applies to FAQs and basic 101 information.


A clear statement of the characteristics of a product or service. It details the element of the product. E.g. the features of a computer would be how much memory it has and what software or accessories (such as a monitor, mouse & keyboard) are included. Compare to benefits.

Generic keywords

Generic keywords are general keywords e.g. camping gear vs. branded keywords such as Nike.

Google PageRank

From Google PageRank Technology: “PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results. PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.”

Guerrilla marketing

Unusual stunts or marketing ideas done to attract maximum attention.


A hashtag is mainly used on social media networks to categorize and link others to relevant information or interest. Originally created for use on Twitter, it has since then become usable on Facebook. Place the number sign in front of a select phrase or word and you’ve created a hashtag. #marketing is an example of a hashtag.

Hot Buttons

The words in a marketing or sales pitch offer that especially appeals to a customer or prospect. The most important want that a salesman needs to “hit” to make a sale. Buttons are found from surveys.


A visual presentation of content in the form of a picture instead of plain text. These use charts, pictures, and diagrams to present data and information.


Infomercials are a special form of advertising such as radio or television commercials that feature numerous product testimonials, early morning or late night airings, very direct messaging, a repeated call to action and an 800 number to call. They can be as short as 30 seconds but can be as long as 30 minutes. Also know as paid programming.


Keywords are words or phrases that Internet users utilize to find websites, information, friends, products and services.

Link building

Link-building is the procedure of obtaining links from other websites to your own site which improves search engine rankings and direct referrals. These one-way links from other, relevant sites are called in-bound links.

Local SEO

Local search engine optimization (SEO) that targets the cities closest to the business. Local SEO is better used than national SEO for businesses that have limitations on their reach towards their target audience, such as a dentist or doctor’s office, or a veterinary clinic, or a chiropractic office. The keyword “Seattle dentist” is an example of using local SEO, since it is more specific to the location and may even have lower competition than the keyword “dentist”.


A unique symbol, lettering or design that represents a product, company or organization. Good logos are both simple and distinctive. E.g. the rings of the Olympic® Games, the swish for Nike®, the double R of Rolls Royce®. E.g. the unique lettering of Sony®, Google® or Coca-Cola®.

Long tail

The Long Tail is the innumerable number of keywords whose collective market share can rival the best-sellers. The highly successful online bookstore, Amazon, primarily uses the long tail. These are longer phrases that have lower search numbers but also lower competition. e.g. “camera” is a regular search term with huge competition from other websites. “Digital camera accesories” is a long tail keyword phrase that would be more viable for  a small business to compete on.


Marketing is the broad concept that involves the various processes, systems and activities involved in successfully bringing a product (or service) to market particularly focusing on various aspects of product creation and development as well as promotion, product publicity, sales and distribution.

It begins with research where the demographics, needs and attitudes of the customer as well as competition are determined and evaluated and then proceeds through into product development, packaging, design, advertising, promotion, publicity, distribution, sales and customer service.

It is fully applicable to both for-profit businesses and non profits.

Marketing Message

The statements and words that communicate the benefits of a product or service. A promotional communication that can be in many forms such as ads in a newspaper, email, company slogan, packaging of products or direct mail piece.

Marketing plan

Details the specific targets that you will undertake to interest your customers into purchasing your product or service. The marketing strategy is implemented through the marketing plan. It is the path that will get the objectives and goals accomplished.

Market Research

Market research is the systematic procedure of observation, data collection and analysis of a particular product (or service) in relationship to target audiences (buyers), competition and business environment. For organizations planning to export their product, market research should be undertaken in the target country as a vital first step. It can include surveys, questionnaires, public information such as census statistics, comparisons to competitors, ease of market entry and budget required to successfully launch and sell the product or service.

Marketing strategy

A clear statement of how a company will achieve its marketing objectives. The strategy would include the allocation of people and financial resources to concentrate actions to gain a competitive advantage and generate a viable level of sales.

A marketing strategy is a key element of an overall, long term business plan and provides broad directions to maximize sales, market share and resulting profits.

Strategies are developed based on marketing research and surveys.


The media or mass media refers to mass circulation media established to reach large numbers of people. E.g. newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

Media placement

Techniques utilized to research and buy advertising space (magazines & newspapers) and time (radio & TV). The client or the agency on behalf of the client issues an insertion order to the media authorizing the advertising purchase similar to a purchase order.


Metrics are measurements that count outcomes. Metrics are a process or system that measure results.  Just like a baseball manager keeps “stats” of each player, a business should keep stats of marketing results. For example ROI (return on investment) would be a way to measure or quantify the performance metrics of placing an ad. The ad cost $1,000 with resulting sales of $3,000 would be a positive ROI. Another metric might be as simple as sales increase or decrease. Internet sales would be a metric of the sales made online.


Acronym for “name, address, phone number.” Applies to any listed directory for a small business online. Having a N.A.P. lets Google know that the small business is a legitimate company. Changing them or having an inconsistent N.A.P. will confuse both search engines trying to track your website correctly as well as the customer trying to find your website.

Natural or Organic (search results)

These are unpaid search listings displayed on the left of a search engine results page (SERP). Natural search results are considered more valuable than sponsored links – listings on the right side of the search results page.

Online Newsletter

Content released periodically in the form of a bulletin. Comes in various formats, usually distributed through e-mail lists to members of an organization or to customers.


Short for Search engine optimization (SEO) is the procedure and techniques to increase the traffic to a web site. E.g. “optimizing” a web page should result in the page being more visible to the search engines and in turn to web searchers who are your potential customers.


An audio recording in a digital format syndicated via an RSS feed over the Internet.

PPC (pay per click)

Pay Per Click (PPC) – is a form of Internet advertising such as Google Adwords where an advertiser pays each time someone clicks from their ad displayed on search sites (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and other websites to the advertiser’s website.

Displayed on the right column and sometimes above the natural listings of search engine results page. Show screen shot of Sponsored ads


A pilot marketing program is a test or a trial.  It is often done on a small scale until proven successful.


Advertising, publicity or many other actions that create want for a product or service—all for the purpose of communicating to a target audience in order to influence them to take action such as make a purchase. It is a broader more all inclusive term than advertising.

Public relations

Public Relations, often referred to as PR, is the process of establishing relationships with all the people or organizations (known as audiences) your company deals with in any way, or anyone who could affect the success of your business.

PR uses various channels and techniques to reach these audiences and communicate with them to help them understand the policies, products, services and actions of your company. The purpose is to create a supportive, friendly environment in which the company can successfully market their products or services.

E.g.  A placement in the media (newspapers, radio, TV) of a positive message about a company, its products or executives. It differs from advertising in that it is not paid for and is considered more believable.


Positioning in marketing means the process that creates an image or thought in the mind of the target audience for a product, brand or company.

It is an attempt to quickly break through the “noise” (huge amounts of advertising messages) by comparing a product to something that already exists.

For example Avis® (a large car rental company) successfully used the positioning statement “We are Number 2, We Try Harder” to position itself against #1, Hertz®. The huge retail chain Wal-Mart® positioning is “low prices”. They never vary their message.

Quality control

Quality control is a system to ensure that high quality products are produced on a consistent basis. It often includes regular inspections by qualified personnel.

Real Simple Syndication (RSS)

RSS is a text-based system that can frequently publish information from your site – this is ideal for sending out blog posts, videos and news headlines at a regular pace. RSS can be mobile phone-based, web-based or desktop computer-based.


The sale of products directly to consumers. A method of product sale and distribution where products are offered for sale. Many retail sales are made by “brick and mortar” stores but retail sales can also be made through other methods such as catalogs or the Internet.


Reviews allow existing clients or customers to engage on behalf of the small business by highlighting the best features, but unlike testimonials where the content is controlled, the reviews are both persistent and published outside of the business’s control. They are used for both social and search ranking purposes. Yelp is one such example of a website where reviews are published about businesses on a daily basis.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Refers to paid advertising on the Internet. This includes PPC (pay per click) programs, banner (display) ads and other paid inclusions.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of getting Internet users to a web site through high rankings in the search results of the search engines. The higher the website ranks, the more opportunity for users to click through to the website. SEO actions enhance the opportunity for a site to be found by the search engines. Search covers a number of different categories such as websites, images, video, local and news.


Short for Search Engine Results Page. It is a web page generated by a search engine with the search results. Most pages now have both organic listings (results indexed by the search engine) and paid listings.

Social Media

Social media is those tool and techniques that allow Internet users to connect, share and consume information. Some of the more common social media tools include blogs, social media press releases, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Questionnaires that are important for gathering marketing research, with the intent of improving customer service and interest.

Tag Line

A tag line is like a slogan. It is a phrase that conveys the essence of your product or service. E.g. “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” Allstate Insurance Company. This message is further supported by a positioning object—two hands clasped together. “I love New York” (positioning object is a heart). “Breakfast of champions” Wheaties breakfast cereal (positioning object is a sports figure, especially sports celebrities).


Customer input on services from the small business or professional; this is the classic way of getting customers involved with your business’s practice. Republishing positive testimonials online, whether through social media or on the official website, provides credibility to major search engines and encourages customers to recognize the business.

Title tag

Keywords used for the text on the top line of a Web browser for a webpage. It can also be used by search engines as the title for the search listing.

Unique selling proposition (USP)

A USP is a statement of what makes your product special or unique. It differentiates you from the competition.

Visual Content

Content that is available in the form of images rather than text for marketing purposes. Examples of visual content in marketing include infographics, photos, videos, cartoons or comics (or both), illustrations, charts, and presentations.

Website Usability

Website usability is how easy it is or not for visitors to use a website. It includes ease of navigation and how uncomplicated it is for the visitor to make use of the site—in particular finding information and products that they are looking for.

Website visibility

Visibility is how visible your website is to the browsers and search engines. It can be measured by PageRank and search results.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing refers to programs utilized to get people talking about the company, products or services.

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