Marketers Need Communications and Communicators Need Marketing

 

From time to time, practitioners in the field of marketing and communications get into a debate about the differences between marketing and communications and more importantly, about which takes prominence in an organization. First, let’s look at terminology. In order to clarify things, the term communications is somewhat of a misnomer. The field of endeavour is actually called “public relations” but a number of years ago, public relations became somewhat pejorative and fell out of favour. As a result, public relations organizations, especially in government and the nonprofit sectors, started calling what they do “communications”. For the purposes of this article and because of this shift, the term communications will be used.

There’s always been some degree of tension and competition between communications and marketing practitioners, especially when it comes to questions about which discipline ought to be dominant or which contributed more to their organization’s well-being. They also compete for scarce internal resources and for public attention. Some organizations use only one of these disciplines. Others use both. The degree to which they use them, and the specific ways in which they use them varies from organization to organization based on their purpose, size, and history.

Introduction of Marketing into the Public and Nonprofit Sectors

The concept of marketing in the public and nonprofit sectors was a bit of a late-comer. Marketing, up until the early nineties, was mostly associated with business. However, public sector and nonprofit marketing has become, in recent years, a burgeoning field.

For more information, see Judith Madill’s article in OptimumMarketing in Government or Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) article in Optimum The Case for Marketing in the Public Sector. There are also textbooks on both nonprofit and public sector marketing e.g. Kotler and Lee’s book on Public Sector Marketing and Andreasen and Kotler‘s book on Strategic Nonprofit Marketing .

Marketing vs. Communications

If an organization is a public sector or nonprofit organization and sees its primary goal as serving the public, then communications tends to be the more dominant function because building relationships with its publics is its over-riding concern. Most public sector/nonprofit organizations have a communications group or team, involved in public information, community relations, media relations, issues management, community and public affairs and in recent years social media engagement.

On the other hand, if you are a for-profit organization and your focus is the generation of sales, communications tends to be of secondary importance and is normally conducted to support and enhance marketing efforts. In a small company, there might not be a separate and identifiable communications group at all. In a medium to large corporation, you definitely have a good size marketing group with a smaller communications function.

Marketing in a for-profit generates sales of goods and services and directly contributes to the company’s profitability while communications coordinates relationships with various publics in order to gain public acceptance and approval of the company’s activities, including its sales activities.

Many people – even marketing and communication pros – find it difficult to distinguish marketing from communications. Some actually think they’re basically the same thing. Others, especially in the public sector, think that marketing could be useful as an arm of government engaged in selling products and services or involved in social marketing for behaviour change, but do not see the value-added that marketing can bring to the strategic communications function.

Adding to the confusion is the emersion of social media. The revolutionary, user-generated content has softened the formerly strict boundaries between marketing and communications.

Despite the confusion, there are important differences between marketing and communications. The following is a helpful, albeit non-exhaustive, list.

  • Focus. In general, marketing focuses on selling products and services. In the public and nonprofit sectors, it is also used for revenue generation, behaviour change campaigns, selling ideas, programs, and policies, while communications tend to focus on building relationships with various publics.
  • Function. Both marketing and communications are management functions. The two serve different purposes; however, in the private sector, marketing is a line function that directly contributes to an organization’s bottom line. Communications, on the other hand, tends to be a staff function that indirectly supports an organization’s goals and objectives. While in the public and nonprofit sector, we have the exact opposite where marketing usually comes under the communications function, although not always.
  • Target. Marketing’s target tends to focus on the customer/client/end-user. Marketers strive to meet the needs of the customer demands while communications target a range of publics and goals that collectively support an organization’s objectives. Examples of these publics (or stakeholders) include customers/clients/members, the media, employees, suppliers, the community, political leaders and various associations/organizations depending on the topic area.
  • Carry-over benefits. Communications’ major focus is to contribute to organizational success by building and maintaining a positive social, and political environment. Studies show a target audiences’ favorable perception – shaped by positive, well-placed news coverage (likely generated by communications) – benefits and “lifts” an organization’s marketing strategy.

Both marketing and communications play substantive roles in accomplishing corporate goals and objectives. Savvy leaders should learn – and appropriately integrate – marketing and communications into their corporate strategies to better achieve organizational success.

The lines between marketing and communications blur through social media, it’s possible that the fields will continue to have more and more overlaps and similarities. Organizations are using their Twitter streams and Facebook pages to both market themselves and carefully craft consumer perceptions. While media releases and marketing campaigns still show the differences between the two subjects, the new shiny mediums are blending the two together, complementing each other and making organizations more efficient and effective.

 In a Forbes article practitioners were asked to distinguish marketing and communications. Here’s what some marketing and communications-area experts said http://heidicohen.com/marketing-versus-pr-whats-the-difference/

Marketing is more proactive while communications tends to be a bit more reactive. Communications kicks in if there is news to report, a public relations crisis, a community that needs outreach, or a new product/service/program to promote. Marketing can help create responses that communications can then respond to.

The purpose of communications is to build relationships with all stakeholders – not just current and potential customers.  Communications smoothes the way.  It creates a favorable operating climate in which it is easier to market, expand and be viable. As marketing guru Al Ries says, PR lights the fire, marketing fans the flames.

Marketing is 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. Communications is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.

All forms of communication should be integrated together – and that includes how you answer the phone, sign off on your email, post to Twitter and Facebook, etc. Communication and marketing should involve all available tools. Service to the public should also be considered part of your overall communications and marketing because if it sucks, nothing else that you say matters.

Effective marketers constantly think from the customer’s / client’s viewpoint and constantly ask, ‘”What’s in it for them?” and then listen with respect to what they say. That’s especially true for public sector and nonprofit marketers i.e.why should someone support your government program or policy or your nonprofit with money or in-kind support or promote your message or buy your products and services?

The truth is, you can’t market without doing a little communication, and you can’t do communications without a little marketing. The end goals—selling products, services, programs, policies or ideas and making people love your organization—are too intertwined: If what you are marketing is poorly conceived, your organization probably won’t be viewed favorably by the public, and if people aren’t connecting with your overall brand, they’re probably not going to buy what you are selling.

Capture

Value of Marketing to the Communications Function

To be sure, marketing, when done properly, starts with the audience and works back to a message that will motivate action. The assumption is that if you want someone to take an action, like buying your product, service, idea, policy or program or changing behaviour you need to appeal to THEIR needs vs. your own. You’re trying to gain mind share with an audience absolutely overloaded with information. If you want to own real estate in their brain, you better make your message all about them.

Just as important, a good marketing campaign needs to incorporate messaging that deals with a competitive landscape, taking into consideration that your audience has choices. If you want to excel, differentiation – how you are different from the others – is critical and a key element of branding (for more information see my blog on branding).

One of the factors that leads to a disdain for the marketing function in a nonprofit or public sector organization is ignorance. “Our good work will sell itself” is one of the many delusional beliefs that inhibits nonprofit and public sector organizations from incorporating marketing into their communication function.

Public sector and nonprofit organizations can and should learn something from business. Many companies have started and failed because they believed their brilliance or product excellence would sell itself. It just isn’t true.

Every organization, no matter the sector, struggles with exactly the same things:

  • How to make people aware of their existence
  • How to make people aware of why they should care about their existence
  • How to get people to take action to achieve a goal or mission

In the nonprofit sector, these cannot be achieved by a communication strategy alone. You are competing for the attention of your audience amongst organizations with a similar cause or a different cause, and distractions caused by the challenges of every day life including but not limited to work, family, friends and hobbies.

Effective marketing principles will help you compete effectively for the attention you desire and deserve by helping you to:

  • Better understand the current position you hold within the minds of the audience(s) you want to reach
  • Craft a complete marketing communication strategy around the needs of those you want to pay attention and/or take action
  • Encourage sponsorship by appealing to the needs of those businesses that serve the same communities you do

There is a strong need to educate senior managers in the public and nonprofit sectors about the value and applicability of strategic marketing management principles. This requires recognition across all levels of management of the value of marketing, both in terms of the potential impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs, services and outreach campaigns, as well as the benefits to their audiences.

Within the public and nonprofit sectors, there is wide recognition of the role and value of the communications function and many organizations develop communications plans outside of a marketing framework. This can be explained by the lack of understanding by public sector and nonprofit organizations of the value marketing brings to the communications function. There is clearly an opportunity to broaden the communications function in these organizations to include a strategic marketing mandate thereby re-positioning it as an expanded role and stretching the impact of communications efforts.

Marketing can be used to achieve the vision of better informing and engaging audiences by viewing communications within a broader strategic marketing framework. It can help to drive results in program uptake, program impact and behavioural change. And it can save money by helping executives and program/service managers make informed decisions around investment in their communication resources.

Many in the public and nonprofit sectors identify marketing with selling products, programs or services, or promotion and advertising. Others see the value of social marketing to change attitudes and behaviours. It is true that marketing can assist in generating revenue within these sectors or succeed in changing behaviours, but it can also be a useful paradigm for improving relationships with clients and the publics with whom these sectors interact.

Marketing as a discipline can be beneficial to the public and nonprofit sectors for the following four reasons:

  1. Existing and potential clients are guaranteed to play a major role in developing and implementing a program/product/service;
  2. All program elements are focused on behaviour change instead of settling for awareness alone;
  3. Initiatives tailored to specific segments of the market as opposed to the general public ensure efficient use of limited resources; and,
  4. The application of 4 Ps (product, price, place & promotion) will always ensure that the campaign will move beyond just communications / promotion to being developed strategically for specific audiences.

As both the public and nonprofit sectors continue to try to meet the challenges associated with demands for better and improved service delivery as well as new services and programs with budgetary constraints, new and different models of management and their associated tools and tactics need to be considered to help both sectors deliver more quality, speed, efficiency, and convenience to their audiences. Marketing presents a comprehensive, integrated and innovative approach from which to manage communications resources. The time has come for leaders in both the public and nonprofit sectors to recognize and embrace the lexicon and practice of strategic marketing in their sectors.

Jim Mintz is the Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing where he presently works with a number of public sector and nonprofit clients.

Coordinates:

Jim Mintz, Managing Partner / Senior Consultant

Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (www.CEPSM.ca)

Tel: 343-291-1131  Direct: 613-291-1137 Mobile: 613-298-4549

Let’s connect on Twitter @jimmintz  Linkedin  Facebook 

Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM)

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) offers strategic marketing and communications consulting services developed specifically for governments, non-profits, and associations. CEPSM has an exceptionally strong core senior consulting team that is complemented by a world class network of associates and partner organizations.

Marketing Workshops Spring 2017

Marketing 101 (for Marketers and Non-Marketers)

March 29, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

This workshop will provide participants with an overview of public sector and non-profit marketing. The workshop will teach participants how to develop a marketing  strategy and plan as well as how to transform a government/nonprofit organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach.

The workshop will focus on:

  • An overview of marketing;
  • Systematic processes and strategic elements for developing and implementing an action-oriented strategic marketing plan;
  • How to set realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals;
  • How to evaluate marketing efforts with practical ideas on how to improve execution;
  • How to develop a client-based mindset in a public sector or non-profit organization;
  • How to use market research to support a decision-making framework;
  • How to develop a system for measuring progress and monitoring performance.

REGISTER NOW

 

Marketing workbooks for Public Sector & Non-Profit Marketers & Communicators

 

Social Marketing Planning to Change Attitudes and Behaviours Workbook

This workbook provides users with an end-to-end planning tool that lays the groundwork for a successful social marketing program to change attitudes and behaviours. This content is the result of more than 30 years of direct experience in the social marketing arena.  It helps public sector, non-profit organizations and associations involved in marketing, communications, public awareness/education and outreach.

It will be very relevant to those responsible for influencing attitudes and behaviours to improve health, prevent injuries and diseases, protect the environment, prepare citizens for emergencies, convince youth to stay in school, and a multitude of today’s critical issues.

The workbook guides users through the process for creating a customized social marketing plan for their organization that will lead to successful implementation. It also features ideas on how to run a campaign on a very tight budget and the effective use of a logic model to monitor and evaluate your organization’s social marketing initiative. Conference site

To purchase workbook go to https://cepsm.ca/product/social_marketing_workbook/

Order Now and You’ll receive a PDF download immediately!

 

Alternatively, you can register on our MARCOM Conference site to attend an upcoming Introduction to Social Marketing Planning for Behaviour Change Workshop where we offer the workbook as part of the course

Marketing 101 for Marketers and Non-Marketers Workbook

The world of public sector and nonprofit marketing is rapidly changing. Increasing demands are being placed on managers to adapt to their new environments. The public and nonprofit sectors are adopting marketing approaches to help meet the challenges of complex and difficult mandates and satisfying client needs in the face of significantly diminishing resources.

The need for highly-skilled public sector and nonprofit marketing professionals continues to escalate. These are the people who must effectively bring their organization’s products, services and messages to the marketplace and bring efficiency, rigorous analysis and inspiration to the marketing process. Marketing is proving to be an effective management tool for guiding the evolutionary business processes for government departments, public sector agencies, nonprofit organizations and associations.

This workbook will provide you with an overview of public sector and nonprofit marketing and highlight the importance of market research to support a decision-making framework. Included will be the exploration of the strategic elements of a marketing plan and how to transform organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach. We will also look at branding which is an integral component in designing the marketing mix.

To purchase workbook, go to https://cepsm.ca/product/marketing-101-for-marketers-and-non-marketers-workbook/

How Will I Receive the Marketing 101 for Marketers and Non-Marketers Workbook?

Order Now and you will receive a PDF download immediately!

Alternatively, you can register on our Training Page to attend an upcoming Marketing  101 Workshop where we offer the workbook as part of the course.

About the Author: Jim Mintz a marketing veteran with over 30 years of experience is the Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

 

 

 

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Tension and Competition between Marketing and Communications

From time to time practioners in the field of Marketing and Communications get into a debate about the differences and more importantly which takes prominence in an organization. First in order to clarify things, the term Communications is somewhat of a misnomer. The field of endeavor is actually called Public Relations but during the eighties Public Relations became somewhat pejorative and fell out of favour and public relations organizations especially in government and nonprofit sector started calling what they do Communications .

There’s always been some degree of tension and competition between public relations and marketing people, especially when it came to questions of which discipline ought to be dominant or which contributed more to their parent organization’s well-being. They also compete for scarce internal resources and for public attention. Some organizations used only one of these disciplines. Others use both. The degree to which they use them, and the specific ways in which they use them varies from organization to organization based on their purpose, size, and history.


If an organization is public sector or non profit and sees its primary goal as serving the public then public relations tends to be the more dominant function because building relationships with its publics is its over-riding concern. Most public sector/nonprofit organizations have a Communications or Public Relations group, involved in public information, community relations, community and public affairs etc. The concept of marketing in these sectors is a bit of a late comer as marketing is very much associated with business. Although Public sector and nonprofit marketing is a burgeoning
field, see Judith Madill’s article on government marketing or Kotler and Lee’s book on Public Sector Marketing and Andreasen and Kotler‘s book on Strategic Nonprofit Marketing

If you are a for profit organization public relations is of secondary importance and is normally done to support and enhance marketing efforts. In a small company, there might not be a separate and identifiable public relations group at all. In a medium to large corporation, you definitely have a good size marketing group with a smaller public relations function.  Marketing in a for- profits generates sales of goods and services and directly contributed to the company’s profitability while Public Relations coordinates relationships with various publics in order to gain public acceptance and approval of the company’s activities, including its sales activities.

Here are some recent definitions: Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders(American Marketing Association) and Public relations is a strategic management function that adds value to an organization by helping it to manage its reputation. (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)

Marketing has at its core a desire to reach consumers and make them think, believe or do what you want. Public relations is more focused on influencing reputation, whether corporate or personal which makes the marketer’s job easier, while marketing activity affects a company’s reputation. The PR function in a private sector company is often (but not always) managed within a broader marketing division. Those organizations that have the most effective communications are those that don’t get hung up on what’s marketing and public relations or communications. Instead they focus on choosing the best vehicles and tools for delivering their objectives, regardless of which toolbox it comes from.

In the nonprofit field we have a very different scenario. Here is a quote from the Andreasen and Kotler book mentioned earlier, found on page 328.

  “The public relations function can be accorded high or low influence in the organization, depending on the board’s and chief executive’s attitude toward the function. In some organizations, the public relations manager is a vice president and sits on all meetings involving information and actions that might affect public perceptions of the organization. He or she not only puts out fires but also counsels management on actions that will avoid starting fires. In other organizations, public relations is a middle-management function charged with getting out publications and handling news, the annual report and special events, the public relations people are not involved in policy and strategy formulation, only in tactics.” Campaign –level P.R. efforts are typically structured in one of two ways. In some organizations, the public relations function or department has staffers who are assigned to particular campaigns and serve to advance their strategies. If the organization believes the campaign managers should have all the tools needed to carry out their objectives , the campaign hires their own PR person or a person from the PR Department will be assigned to the campaign on a full time , long term, basis.”  There is a third approach to structuring the PR / Communications function, i.e., to put it within the marketing area. A major challenge to the chief administrators and board from time to time, is deciding what should be the relationship between marketing and public relations in a nonprofit organization. Clearly the two functions work well together in commercial firms with marketing focusing on the development of plans to market the company’s products and services to consumers, while public relations takes care or relations with other publics.. In Non-profit organizations, however, the relationship between the PR and marketing departments has often been marked by tension and lack of clearly defined areas of responsibility. This is because of the important role of PR at the campaign level. Many marketing efforts simply cannot succeed without powerful marketing efforts!”

“The tension is often an historical artifact. In many institutions the PR function was already established when marketing was introduced. Friction between the two areas subsequently arose, first because the marketing department was often assigned functions that were “taken away” from public relations. First, they did their media relations and events. Second, public relations directors often felt that they should have been given the better paying new position of marketing director when it was created. Third, many PR executives felt that marketing ought to be a division within their departments or that marketing as a separate function was not needed at all.” “These frictions were often exacerbated by the lack of clearly specified separate roles for the two functions and a clear understanding of how they should be coordinated by each other. Our own view is that there is a need for an organization-level PR function but the campaign-level functions should be under the control of the marketing people because of the crucial role public relations must play in most campaigns. Indeed, when nonprofit organizations hire advertising and public relations organizations to help with the campaigns, they often specifically seek organizations that have both advertising and public relations capabilities.”

 Recently our organization had some issues with between Marketing and Communications regarding the web. The web function in most public sector organizations are managed by Communications folks , however where it becomes a problem ( and we find this with many of our clients) is when the marketing function of an organization involved in revenue generation and or cost recovery activities want to use the web as part of a marketing strategy.  The Communications functions tend to control the web and are the “gate keepers of the web”. The Communications function sees the web as a vehicle to provide information as well as enhance the image of the organization while the marketing folks want to use the web as an e-commerce / e-marketing or in some cases a social media function and are prohibited from carrying out this important commercial function because the Communications folks have the final say on what appears on the web. (And usually they regard marketing as a secondary function if at all.) Marketing has a lot to offer a public sector and nonprofit organization (that will be another blog)    as does the Communications function. Clearly both functions should be working harmoniously no matter what the structure of the organization. 

 

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