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Marketing Definitions 101

Do you experience a certain level of confusion when it comes to the myriad of marketing terms?  How about something as simple as the difference between the term ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising?’

You’re not alone. A good many use various related terms interchangeably. But, although they are similar, they refer to different actions.

It’s a good idea to distinguish the difference in order to communicate effectively with others in your organization and to better comprehend the nuances of your marketing strategies and activities.

While researching, I discovered the perfect analogy for this topic at Free Management Library. There, the writer cited a Reader’s Digest quote, which is the ultimate marketing alchemy and makes this subject very simple. I don’t know about you, but I like simple.

“… if the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.” If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.”    M. Booth and Associates, Inc.

This is how the AMA defines marketing:

“…the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing is everything your organization does to facilitate that exchange between your company and your consumer. It takes a lot of time and other resources to achieve success.

Think of marketing as a toolbox whose purpose is to contain many implements. A few may include items mentioned in our circus analogy: advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations and sales.

Let’s briefly look at those tools.

Advertising: “the placement of announcements and messages in time or space by business firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and individuals who seek to inform and/ or persuade members of a particular target market or audience about their products, services, organizations, or ideas.”

There are many, many advertising activities that can bring success. I’m sure you have incorporated a few in your arsenal. I’ve listed a few:

  • Pay per click on the search engines
  • Single ad placement on web sites
  • Joining an ad network which places ads through their network of sites
  • Video placement on popular video sites to attract traffic
  • Social media
  • Press releases
  • Content sponsorship

Promotions: “a set of coordinated, specific activities that are based on a common theme and are designed to promote a product, service, or business through different advertising media.”

As you’re aware, there are so many ways to promote your company, I couldn’t begin to list. Well, I can begin the list, but I’m certain you can add to it:

  • Use local listing directories. The big ones are Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing, but as this type of local search is growing in popularity, many other sites are popping up. Most all of them are free.
  • Embrace social media. But, research the channels that are a good fit with your business. And, make sure you have the time to nurture relationships.
  • Start a blog. Again, if you have time to commit to keep your stream updated, this is a good way to not only get your name out there, but to engage with your customers more directly.
  • Upload multimedia on YouTube and Flickr. A simple ad will not work. This must be content that is relevant and useful to your followers.

Publicity: “A type of public relations in the form of a news item or story which conveys information about a product, service, or idea in the media.”

Public Relations: “The profession or practice of creating and maintaining goodwill of an organization’s various publics usually through publicity and other nonpaid forms of communication.”

Sales: “The activity or business of selling products or services.”

Though it’s vital to continually attract new customers to sell to, shifting your focus to your current customers will enable you to build loyalty, resulting in repeat sales. Four things you can do to make your current customers feel good about doing business with your company are:

  • communicate with them in a non-advertising way.
  • provide great customer service.
  • offer customer incentives.
  • build a reputation for reliability.

To summarize, the term ‘marketing’ is the basket that holds everything else, such as advertising, promotions, publicity, public relations and sales. There are infinite ways to use those tools, such as: creating your website with an effective sales funnel, writing good content, engaging with your customers through social media, strategically placing ads and even search engine optimization.

Let us know what marketing tools you use and which you find is the most successful.

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Author: Vicki Donnowitz

Vicki is passionate about listening to people's needs and helping them develop customized strategic marketing solutions which deliver profitable results. She is a Partner at DirectiveGroup and has over 25 years of Senior Executive level sales, marketing, merchandising and general management skills in corporations, start up, entrepreneurial and rapid growth companies.