Marketing and related terms


It’s easy to become confused about these terms: advertising, marketing, promotion, public relations and publicity, and sales. The terms are often used interchangeably. However, they refer to different but similar activities. Some basic definitions are provided below. A short example is also provided hopefully to help make the terms clear to the reader.

Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising is typically done with signs, brochures, commercials, direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.

Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity (mention in the press). The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered as aspects of promotions.

Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that the marketer is able to meet the needs of customers and getting value in return. These activities include market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist, what their needs are, which of those needs the marketer can meet, how the marketer should meet them, etc.
Marketing also includes analyzing the competition, positioning new product or service (finding market niche), pricing products and services, and promoting them through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

Public relations include ongoing activities to ensure the company has a strong public image. Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are conducted through the media of newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Public relations are considered as one of the primary activities included in promotions.

Publicity is mention in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the message in the media, at least, not as they do in advertising. Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be said.

Sales involves most or many of the following activities, including cultivating prospective buyers (or leads) in a market segment; conveying the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service to the lead; and closing the sale or coming to agreement on pricing and services.

The following example may help to make the above five concepts more clear. If a circus is coming to town and a sign is painted saying ‘Circus coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If the sign is put 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 the mayor laughs about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go 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.

Positioning is accomplished through market analysis. Market analysis includes finding out what groups of potential customers (or markets) exist, what groups of customers the marketer prefers to serve (target markets), what their needs are, what products or services can be developed to meet their needs. Marketer must know the choice of customers in the selection of the products and services. The marketer should also have the information about the competitors’ strategy and the pricing to be followed to meet the competition.

Marketer should plan the logistics to be followed in the distribution of products and services to target markets at the lowest possible cost.

Various methods of market research are used to find out information about markets, target markets and their needs, competitors, etc.

The public relations aspect should consider:
* Groups of stakeholders the marketer wants to appeal
* Impressions to be carried to the stakeholders
* Communications media preference like advertising, collaborations, annual reports, networking, TV, radio, newsletters, classifieds, displays/signs, posters, word of mouth, direct mail, special events, brochures, neighborhood newsletters, etc.
* Most practical media to use in terms of access and affordability.
* Messages which are the most appealing to each stakeholder group.

The Unique Selling Proposition:

It’s very helpful to develop a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP by every marketer.

The USP clearly enables a customer to do business with you instead of your competitors.

The USP may be used repetitively in marketing literature to build the customer’s or client’s identification of your company with your product or service.

There are two major benefits in developing the USP. First, it clearly differentiates your business in the eyes of your current and potential customers or clients. Second, it focuses your team on delivering the promise of the USP, helping to improve your internal performance.

For example, who do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed”?

Dominos virtually took over the delivered pizza market with that USP. Notice Dominos didn’t even promise the pizza tasted good.

With the USP a Domino’s delivery person knows his priorities and he moves faster as compared to a delivery person who works for a competitor. The USP does not need to be expressed in 25 words or less. It could be a detailed set of performance standards. It should be tested to assure the USP addresses a need that is truly important to the buyer.