Many people confuse these terms and this sure makes for a difficult job for marketing firms. Connection Group is a brand marketing firm, our focus is considerably different than let’s say a Marketing Research firm. Connection Group assists with marketing plans, promotions, design, advertising and general public relations with a focus on development and promotion of your brand in print and web communication. There are PR firms that outsource design and communication items to us and in turn, there are public relations and research items that are better suited for firms who specialize in those modalities.
Because many of our local Lansing marketing firms and design agencies handle a variety of task and because there are so many different elements that can be broken into niche areas (Marketing Research, Brand Marketing, Promotions, Event Marketing, etc.) it is clear why there is so much confusion. Let’s take a look at each category and attempt to clarify the main goals of each.
Marketing is the umbrella term for the process of creating, communicating and delivering products or services to customers. Target marketing is achieved through research studies that help determine buying habits or lifestyle practices of people and companies. Research ranges from such options as geo-targeting, surveys, focus groups, web analytics, phone tracking and many more in-depth and long-term studies. Contrary to popular belief by some specialist, marketing is not just about research and statistics. Research is one step in the marketing plan. Most people learn that marketing consists of four major considerations: product, price, place and promotion. To Connection Group, marketing is as much about the action taken upon review of data as the number crunching, and charts and graphs reviews. Brand Marketing, which we specialize in, starts with the background research, leads to the plan, and formulation of the promotional campaign. Depending on the size of the company, and the size of the marketing budget, the marketing plan will include an outline for Sales objectives, Advertising media, Communication materials, Public Relations projects and review suggestions.
Sales is a component of marketing but marketers are not sales staff. Sales is typically handled by a separate department that can include sales managers, sales representatives or account representatives depending on the company industry and size of the business. It is marketing’s job to provide tracking, statistics, materials and messages that support the company brand and give the sales force a sustainable strategic advantage to meet the customers needs. Do not expect your marketing department to plan sales strategy, create sales appointments or contact prospects or customers – hire a sales person for this.
Advertising and public relations are considered marketing promotions
Advertising can involve a number of activities to communicate to a target audience. Most advertising is paid media such as radio, television, email, newspaper, magazine, the internet, and other print publications, etc. Advertising focuses on communicating a message to the market and typically carries a theme that communicates the company brand. The chosen media is determined by the marketing research which has identified the most successful way of reaching the target audience within the financial budget set for advertising.
Public Relations support the marketing effort and is often a component of the marketing plan. PR is a method companies use to convey a positive image to their market and the community. Press releases, speaking at public forums, and community involvement are methods used by businesses to establish the company name and communicate the brand image. Public Relations is considerably less cost than advertising, however the efforts can take time and may not attract the attention by media that is desired. Addressing the public on issues of importance can also be risky with any controversial subject that can be misconstrued by competition, the media or the public view.
Considerations when outsourcing these services
Some marketing departments and marketing firms may offer all of these services in house, some may outsource a portion of the services and some may supply only the data or the marketing plan recommended for your company and you will be responsible for identifying who will implement each task. Don’t assume every marketing firm is going to provide Public Relations services or media placement, and don’t expect your marketers to be graphic designers or sales people. Identify what your goals are and communicate this when interviewing firms. Knowing what items you will be handling in house; social media updates, e-newsletters, press releases, etc will help determine the level of services you desire. Some firms handle everything, some marketing firms hand you a plan and blow you a kiss good bye. Connection Group can work on a per project basis and also provides monthly marketing maintenance for companies. Give us a call today for a complimentary consultation, in person or an online marketing consultation. We can let you know if what your company needs is a newly designed website with more content to enhance SEO, a full blown PR campaign, or just a good sales representative with clear communication materials to reach your target audience.