Many people are confused as to the differences between branding, advertising, promotions, and public relations. For that matter, the actual process of “marketing’ is misunderstood just the same. To give you a basic understanding, marketing is not a one time event or activity, it is a process, a combination of things which blend together. By definition, marketing is the act of mixing product, price, place, and promotion. But first, on to…
A great example of branding is Apple. iMac, iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iTunes. Get the point? Apple has created a massive brand strategy using the “i” element. Think of the Ritz-Carlton, LifeTime Family Fitness, Hilton Hotels, and what do you see? First class service, luxurious amenities, excellent service? Now, how about Best Western, 24-Hour Fitness, Motel 6? What kind of “Brand” is each of those? Can you see the contrast? What is your company brand? Are you sure? If you think you’re a high-end facility, do you show it? Would you see the front desk clerk at the Ritz-Carlton wearing a button promoting the frequent guest club? Would you see a front desk clerk at a Motel 6 wearing a $1000 suit? Does everything you do, say, print, write, and provide consistent with your brand message? If not, you may want to consider who your true target audience is, and work at ensuring you continue to provide services that directly relate to them.
Advertising is the actual process of displaying your message. Advertising on the radio… Advertising on tv… The one act of making something happen. Tie your Advertising and your Branding together, you have the Marketing Process. If you are just “advertising” without any direction, any goal, any unity, then you’re just a lost puppy wandering aimlessly hoping someone will give you a good home.
A promotion is typically a one-time event for a specific purpose or goal. Whereas marketing is ongoing, a promotion can be a one-day, one week, one-month, or even one-hour event. In retail, a “SALE” is typically a promotion. Car dealerships offering Zero percent interest is a limited time promotion. They typically have a specific start and end date, and have a very clear understanding of the R.O.I. (Return on Investment) any particular promotion should achieve to make it a success.
P.R., or Public Relations, typically revolves around un-paid news sources and focuses on your business as it relates to the community. If you see a positive, or hopefully positive, story on the news or an article in the newspaper, this is the type of press a Public Relations firm may help you get. They have strong relationships with the news media and often feed them stories about their clients, in hopes of some free press. You, too, can harness the power of free press and public relations, although it can be difficult at times to get noticed, which is the PR firm’s strongpoint.
Marketing is the process that drives all the above elements. It directs the feel, image, and tone of the advertising, promotions and public relations. To each of these elements, there are experts in each of these fields. You can hire a company just to handle your branding, and another to handle your advertising, marketing, and yet another for your public relations. Of course, as a small business owner, you may not always have the budget for such companies. You can learn how to achieve the same results at and get the latest in marketing news, education and resources to help build and grow your business.