Marketing by any other name is not a rose

Yesterday, I had a great conversation with Kymberlee Symental. I’d popped in to drop something off at her office. In the course of the conversation we talked about how important it is to identify business opportunities for clients without using business jargon. We all do it. Many people don’t understand the difference between sales, marketing and public relations. Using insider PR jargon isn’t going to help them. So I thought I’d share.

Upper case Marketing, is the business term that refers to the Product, Pricing, Placement and Promotion. Product definition is obvious-what do you have to offer for customers. Pricing self explanatory as well-what are you charging for said product or service. Placement is how the consumer accesses the product–store front, online shop, workshop, face-to-face meeting, conference call, etc. The Promotion part often gets intermingled with all the other terms: sales, public relations, and lower case marketing. Depending on company, product and client, the Promotion can include advertising (paying for an exact message across a variety of media), public relations (interacting with different audiences) and sales (convincing the audience to purchase). It doesn’t necessarily require all of these elements.

Advertising is the tool to get on television, radio, in print, across online platforms with your message in tact. Publicity, a tool of public relations, is when media releases go out. But the media may not respond to a release or an interview may not go the direction you want or get the coverage you need.

Public Relations is the art of establishing relations with different audiences from donors/investors, to clients (customer relations) to prospecting for clients (events, community outreach, etc). Public Relations also has a role in the image of the company so branding, marketing communications collateral (brochures, websites, banners, etc), and corporate philanthropy come under this. Crisis communication (what to do when IT hits the fan) and image or risk management (preventing the crisis) are also roles for public relations.

Marketing is the generic term for all of these and is often interchanged with public relations and/or sales. Marketing materials may be a stand alone department, with or without a public relations plan. It could include advertising elements-or not.

Sales can be just the process of selling the product or include the staff training for customer relations and cover all the steps in between the product/service availability for the “market” (in terms of the targeted audience willing to purchases) OR it can just be the conversation at the moment between the client and the company to get the client to buy.

Whew. No wonder people don’t know. And this is just a glossing. Experts would likely chew this up and rearrange the priorities. Which is fine.

As a small business owner what you need to know is which tool do you need to reach the audiences you need. Need an investor? You’ll do part public relations and part sales. Need clients, you’ll do publicity, advertising if you have the budget, marketing collateral, branding, and public relations. Trying to keep the customers you have? Customer relations is part of public relations, and getting them to refer you is also.

The jargon doesn’t matter. Just recognize the types of actions you need to attract investors, clients, and key decision makers; decide what kind of business you want to be in your community and determine your corporate philanthropy and community outreach. Not sure where to begin? Contact us and we’ll help you sort it out.


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