No… Seriously! What is Marketing?

No… Seriously! What is Marketing?

Since you’re reading this, you are obviously interested in learning more about marketing and/or engaging an agency for your company’s marketing needs.

But—serious question—could you explain to your colleagues or friends what, exactly, marketing is?

If your answer is “ummmm” or “not exactly,” don’t worry. You’re not alone! The truth is, marketing is widely interpreted. Let us break it down for you.

At its core, marketing is the strategic promotion and selling of products or services, and can include branding, creative and content development, external communications and digital support. Think of it as a form of storytelling: marketing employs (some or all of) these services to create stories that grow your business or brand.

Even with a topline understanding of what marketing means, the term is often used loosely and interchangeably to describe public relations (PR), advertising and even sales. Yes, these all share one common goal—to get a product or service to consumers and/or customers—but there are important distinctions between them.

Marketing prepares a product or service for the marketplace. Through targeted market research, branding, content (think editorial support like blogging and copywriting) and collateral (like brochures and packaging), marketing sets the narrative of why a particular business or product is the best in its field. It’s a story tailored to a specific target audience, and it lays the foundation for advertising and public relations efforts.

Advertising, on the other hand, literally communicates the existence of a product or service, and aims to influence buying behavior. It largely relies on paid media placements—on television, online and in magazines—to drive awareness of and interest in a brand, with the end goal of driving sales. (If you’re still unclear, just watch a few episodes of Mad Men).

Like advertising, PR aims to get the word out about a business, product or idea. But it does so in very different ways. For starters, good PR does not involve paid media placements. Rather, it’s all about managing the communication channels between a company or brand and its stakeholders, and driving a positive reputation (versus driving sales). This is achieved through executive visibility campaigns (i.e. getting your client in front of the right people at the right time via speaking opportunities, bylined article placements and more), working with the press to secure media interviews and coverage, as well as crisis management.

This is all to say: Marketing tells a story, advertising sells the story to the public, and PR makes sure everyone is familiar with your story and agrees it’s the best one out there. Got it?!

Hopefully we cleared this up for you, but if not, feel free to drop us a line

PS – stay tuned:  In the next few weeks our leadership team will dive a little deeper on the podcast about this topic!