Marketing vs. Communications: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

Seldom a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me to explain the difference between marketing, communications, and public relations. Plenty of business people confuse and intermingle these terms. This confusion can lead to problems moving your products and/or promoting your business or organization.

It’s important to know: Marketing is not communications and communications is not marketing. Since marketing, communications and PR are related fields that rely on one another for success, it’s easy to think you’re doing one well when perhaps you are not.

Marketing_Comm word cloud

Business strategies defined
In simple terms, marketing is a strategy that encompasses all the ways
a business or organization serves its customers. Renowned marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy once described this strategy as The Marketing Mix, which includes the four Ps: product, pricing, place and promotion. Under McCarthy’s model, marketing strategy could include everything from product development plans to selecting point-of-sales locations to selling products.

Communications planning and execution certainly should be a component of that marketing strategy. It involves identifying key audiences, which in most cases will include customers and stakeholders, and targeting relevant messages to them. Communications also includes choosing the right medium (ads, newsletters, social media, websites, etc.) to deliver your message and developing a plan for when and how to share information. Good communications should help build your brand and support your sales team.

Finally, public relations, like advertising, is one of the options organizations and businesses have to communicate with current and potential customers. PR strategies focus on maintaining a positive image and often rely on communicating though earned media such as newspapers, television news, blogs, etc. PR often is a cost-effective way to gain attention, credibility, and ultimately leads or sales. However, PR is most effective when it is part of a broader communications and marketing plan.

Ask yourself: Who am I?
An important point for business and organizational leaders to understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for marketing or communications. To do either effectively, you must know who you are, what you have to offer, and who you are trying to reach.

Once you have these answers, you can start developing a strategic marketing and communications plan that will help you succeed.

As a colleague recently described it to one of our potential clients, “Our experience is that a thoughtful, sharply developed approach to specific audiences is far more effective than a broad and general communication that may not have a strong connection to the services you provide.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ed Green
C2 Senior Strategist

Share This Article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on pinterest

Trailblazing journalist and author to join C2 Strategic as senior director

Thomas George, a distinguished trailblazing journalist and Kentucky native, will join C2 Strategic Communications as a senior director next month, focusing on attracting new clients and diverse talent to the regional public relations firm. George won the trust and respect of some of the biggest names in professional sports for his insight, compassion and compelling

Read More »

Louisville’s largest public relations firm continues to expand with addition of senior strategist Dominic Manecke

C2 Strategic Communications is excited to announce the latest addition to its all-star team of public relations professionals. Dominic Manecke, an award-winning communications expert with extensive experience working alongside a multitude of corporate leaders and government officials, joins C2 Strategic as senior strategist in its Louisville headquarters. Dominic comes to C2 Strategic after more than

Read More »

Lexington-based senior strategist Brenna Angel joins C2 Strategic with focus on transportation projects

C2 Strategic Communications is growing its team of seasoned public relations professionals and expanding into Central Kentucky. Brenna Angel, an award-winning communicator with experience in local government and journalism, joins C2 Strategic as a senior strategist based in a new Lexington office. Brenna will strengthen C2 Strategic’s transportation segment, working closely with engineering firms and

Read More »

Tip Tuesday: Use data to improve your communications strategies

We know that good data can help us better understand target audiences, improve current strategies, and guide future decisions. Think about data as a tool to maximize your marketing dollars. For instance, if you have a high bounce rate on your website, you may consider if your landing page is providing relevant content to visitors.

Read More »
Scroll to Top