How does marketing compare with advertising? With public relations? With social and digital media? To use a simple baking analogy, marketing is the pie representing everything you do to facilitate an exchange between your company and prospects and customers. The pieces of that pie are the above tactics; each plays a distinct role in the marketing recipe.
Advertising attempts to influence the buying behavior of your customers by providing a persuasive selling message about your products and/or services. It can include placing ads in newspapers, yellow pages, billboards, TV, radio and the Internet. Since advertising is often the most significant expense in a marketing strategy, it’s essential to precede your efforts with a well-thought-out plan that defines your target audience, including their wants/needs (which will determine what you say) and their location (which will determine where you say it).
A cousin of advertising is promotion, which also serves to call attention to your products. There are two components to promotion: a promotional tactic, such as a discount, rebate, premium offer, coupon, contest or sweepstakes; and the medium by which you communicate that tactic, such as catalogs, point-of-purchase displays, trade show booths, direct mail pieces, catalogs and brochures. You may produce these materials in-house or hire an agency or freelance professionals to do it.
As opposed to advertising and promotion, which are intended to lead directly to product sales, public relations is all about creating a strong public image of your company and its products to the outside world. Good public relations can turn a new business into a success, give a declining company new life – all through messaging that paints the company, not the product, in a favorable light. Typical tactics can include press releases, events, talk shows, articles and columns in trade publications. PR is a popular tactic, especially in small businesses, because it is typically less costly than advertising.
We couldn’t conclude this discussion without speaking of the hottest tactics in today’s marketing mix: digital and social media. These include your website, blog and email marketing (digital) as well as posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and social media channels (social). What makes them so popular among small businesses is their cost: Digital and social tactics are a relatively inexpensive and easy way to ensure that your business and product receive high visibility. And if your company does business beyond your local area, online tactics such as these make it easy for people to find your company and purchase your product/service from anywhere in the world – essentially making your small business a larger one.