Marketing and communications are the cornerstones of any small business marketing plan. When running a business, it’s important to understand what these terms mean and how to utilize them. While marketing is customer-centered, communications encompasses the back-and-forth with clients and within the company.
Our team at Absolute Holdings Group is well-versed in both subjects, below we fill you in on what separates them and what they have in common.
Marketing in a Nutshell: Self-Identification and “Mindreading”
We recommend thinking of marketing and communications as two ends of the small business marketing continuum with marketing as the starting point. Every attempt at getting your brand known starts here and it determines what a communications campaign will look like. So what is marketing exactly?
Brand identity is key. Who you are as a company and service encompasses several essential components and every decision you make about your product will dictate your brand and how it is received.
- What is the product?
- What will the product look like?
- Where will you sell your product?
- What is the price point?
Even the audience you intend to target with your products and communications is a marketing decision.
Knowing The Customers and What They Want
Whenever you ask “Who would want to buy our product?”, you are already in marketing mode. An important aspect of marketing is determining the right audience. In the past, marketing used a more blanket approach, targeting whoever, whenever. Now, the advent of tools such as SEO to identify searches and target specific potential customers has allowed companies to more easily determine what a customer wants and how to convert that information to sales.
A solid marketing strategy can come to its fruition through good communication.
We all understand, at least intuitively, that marketing is a customer-centered affair. However, you need to understand that it all starts with the product. Marketing begins as soon as you create a certain product based on what the intended user wants. After all, it’s rare that any business launches a product without the end-user in mind.
Once you have determined what the product will be, you need to plan how it can get to the customer. A simple rule of thumb about product launching and marketing: Everything that went into a product’s creation — from prototyping to testing — is a marketing activity.
Communications: Conversations with Everyone Who Matters
If marketing establishes why and what we tell our customers, communications deals with how to do this. In other words, the story you tell your customers and your methods of actively engaging with them both fall under communications.
However, the communications umbrella extends farther than this. Communications can also cover your interactions with your staff and stakeholders — people who are already on board with you.
Getting the Conversation Started
As mentioned earlier, marketing is both product and client-centered. We create our products and services in line with specifications and our brand identity. However, in marketing, you do not actually engage your clients or customers. Everything under marketing aims at bringing your brand and product to life for the customer.
So where does communication come in?
Communications activity lies between marketing and sales. A customer who has been persuaded to purchase your product would be aware of your company and your product and have any of your brand identity or what your company is all about.
Your methods for delivering this information can range from social media advertisements to PR (public relations). Other activities can include emails, cold-calling, targeted ads, and messaging. In short, any activity you engage in to get the conversation started with your customers falls under the category of communications.
Interaction with your customers is key. For this reason, communication involves more than sending customers or potential clients messages or sales pitches. The communications process is also when you allow your customers to engage with you.
For a communications staff, the desire for engagement can inform things like site design and staffing. For example, to facilitate interaction, a communications team can opt for a messaging pop-up during site design. Also, a company that brands itself as community-driven may have an entire department devoted to taking calls and messages.
We recommend thinking of marketing and communications as two ends of the small business marketing continuum.
Not Just For Your Customers
Much of your communication plans and strategies are aimed at customer engagement, but communications will also involve interfacing within your own company. You need to maintain lines of communication with your team, staff, and stakeholders.
Corporate communications have a different goal from customer communications. Within the ambit of your small businesses, you use various types of communication to promote agency and transparency among employees. Coordination between departments and with other companies are also avenues of communication.
Marketing and Communications: What Do They Have In Common?
Marketing and communications are two different tools which you are probably using simultaneously most of the time. A solid marketing strategy can be said to come to its fruition through good communication.
Both marketing and communication are crucial to brand awareness. Marketing covers the direction in which you take your products. Communication keeps you in the minds of your customers.
With the customer in mind, you optimize your products and with improved products, you gain a reputation among your clients. That reputation is created through targeted marketing and consistent communications.
You can improve the way you deliver your products and services with better data. This is marketing. With communications, you get to tease out what your customers really feel. You can then use this information to create better products.
As your products and services improve, so does the demand for them.
Marketing and Communications — Leaving and Maintaining a Lasting Impression
Yes, marketing and communications may be two different parts of our business strategies. Marketing takes care of how we create a good first impression. Meanwhile, communication is how we maintain that impression.
At the end of the day, however, we need to see both processes as equally crucial to our small business marketing. After all, everything we do has the customer at its core.