There are a number of ways to influence the perception of your company in the public eye. From advertising to marketing to public relations, you have a cornucopia of options before you to solidify your brand and interact with customers. But what's the difference between them all? Read on to find out.
Think of marketing like the large umbrella under which other strategies lie. Marketing is a combination of efforts such as media planning, market research, advertising, analysis, and public relations. All of these efforts should work both independently and together to deliver a strong, cohesive message and image to your target audience.
A marketing plan is typically what drives all marketing activities. It's based on comprehensive audience research and developing a unique selling proposition. Once you have a solid understanding of your goals, audience, and industry, you can start creating collateral, media plans, and advertising.
Advertising supports your marketing plan with specific tactics that create exposure for your products or services. It targets specific audiences with tailored messages with the intention to motivate them to take a certain action (buy your product, visit your website, download your app, etc.). Advertising is very strategic – using carefully chosen channels or venues to distribute things like commercials, billboards, radio ads, public transportation ads, or online banner ads. Your advertising strategy should play well with your overall marketing efforts and goals.
Otherwise known as Marcom, marketing communications refers to all marketing-related tools, including paid spaces, websites, brochures, buttons, giveaways, etc. Marcom encompasses three things: your message, where it will be spread, and your target audience. The goal of individual Marcom efforts may not always be to elicit an immediate response – it can sometimes be to get the word out and inform your audience about a specific offering or about your company in general. But of course, the end goal is to motivate people to become customers.
Establishing your brand comes before any marketing or advertising efforts. Beyond your logo design, it's the sum of everything about your company — both tangible and intangible. A brand is both what your company does and stands for, as well as how people perceive it. Branding can be applied to your entire company as well as individual product and service names. It is made up of several factors, including brand identity, differentiators, positioning, promise, story, strategy, and activation. Learn everything you always wanted to know about branding here.
Integrated marketing is like all the legs of the marketing stool. It's when all marketing, advertising, and Marcom efforts work in harmony to create a complete communications package. For example, if you're running a campaign to sell athletic shoes, you might start with a TV commercial and online banner ads. From there, you could send a mailing that contains similar messaging and design so people will immediately know that its part of the same campaign. You could also send an email with a coupon for those shoes and encourage people to share the campaign on social media. This way, you're saturating the market and reaching people wherever they are.
Publicity focuses on name awareness. It's generally the attention your company receives outside of your marketing efforts. Publicity is mostly gained by press coverage and social media buzz. Unlike marketing and advertising, publicity campaigns aren't always hyper-targeted – it's more about letting people know that your company or product exists. For example, publicity can be as simple as product placements or logos on vehicles driving around town.
Public relations is about company awareness in the public as a whole, not just with your customers. It's more of a two-way street where you listen as well as respond. Public relations efforts don't rely on paid means like advertising, but rather on earned methods such as traditional media, social media, or speaking engagements. Having a well-oiled public relations machine comes in handy – especially when your company needs crisis communications to mitigate any reputation damage.
Ideally, your company will employ all of the above methods to solidify your presence in the public and with your target audiences. The more your marketing and communications efforts work in harmony, the better off your brand, sales, and reputation will become.