Key Differences Between Marketing and Communications

Key Differences Between Marketing and Communications

We live in a comparison society that loves to pick and choose sides. So, on the subject of picking sides, when it comes to the debate of marketing vs. communications, where do your allegiances lie? It depends on who you’re trying to communicate with, and the message you’re trying to get across.

Communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meaning across various mediums, channels, avenues, contexts, and media. It promotes an effective and ethical practice of human communication and connection. Designated communicators are effectively the storytellers of your organization. Communications is about consistent messaging of a business across all channels.

Marketing, on the other hand, often focusses on exchanging offerings that provide value for your customer. It shapes who you are as a brand and helps differentiate products and services from your competition. Think of the four Ps (price, product, promo and place) and the strategies marketers create in creating value propositions. Marketing influences through various tactics such as advertising, social media, and public relations. 

Developing and deploying a detailed communication plan is what gives context and meaning to the expressions of your message. With writing and design as core variables, having a clear and concise strategy and plan is the foundation of your communications.

Below are five differences between the two:

  1. Audience: Knowing what you’re trying to communicate and to whom is paramount. Communications represent uniform opinions, strategies, messages, and motivations. Marketing is designed to uniquely influence and entice consumers down the path of purchase.

  2. Message Development: Established marketing objectives and developed messages are key cogs of a marketing machine. These include growing customer base, creating favourable brand attitudes, a nudge to brand switching, and the generation of sales.

  3. Marketers sell and communicators tell:  Marketing involves the creation of a strategy or plan that a business will use to sell its products and services. Communications focuses on building relationships, both internally and externally, and devise specific tactics used to spread the word about a product, service, or company. There are a wide variety of tools at your disposal to use.

  4. Target: Marketing aims directly at a customer/end-user. The goal of your marketing should be meeting the needs of your customer, while communications targets a myriad of goals that collectively support an organization’s objectives.

  5. Goals and Longevity: A relatively short-term activity, marketing aims to drive instant tangible sales success, and communications is a long-term investment where companies reap its benefits over a longer period of time.

While both marketing and communications vary in how they drive messages in various mediums, understanding the difference between communications and marketing (and how they can be used in tandem), will result in creating a strong overarching plan! You need to use both well, ensuring the complement one another, in order to grow your customer base and create loyalty.