Jargon irritates me. Let me get that out there early.
Business talk in general can be frustrating, as it makes people sound smarter without it necessarily being the case – asking them to define simply so you can understand can often lead them to struggle to find the right words. I decided to try and not only understand, but differentiate between the terminology within my industry - Advertising & Marketing in particular the ‘go-to’ keywords – but do these two titles mean the same thing?
A helpful way of understanding the difference between advertising and marketing is to imagine marketing as a five course meal at a top-end restaurant. Some items on the menu could be:
In other words, advertising is just one element – and usually the most expensive. Each element must be effective individually, as well as playing its part towards a bigger goal. Marketing is a time-intensive process. It refers to any activity aimed at establishing and maintaining a positive exchange between the company and its customers.
Advertising therefore is a component part of a broader marketing strategy that entails ‘spreading the word’ about your business, product, or the services you are offering. It requires the creation of strategies around the advert placements, and the appropriate frequency of placements, in addition to actually placing the advert in media like newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and of course the world wide web. Advertising is the greatest expense of most marketing plans, with public relations in second place – and market research not falling far behind that.
What else falls into the bracket of marketing? Many companies are now finding that price is no longer king, that value no longer rules. They are discovering, often to their own detriment, that the ethics and philosophy of the Organization must be sound. After all, Nike’s impressive, budget-busting advertising campaigns failed to avert disaster when poor working conditions at its east-Asian manufacturing plants were exposed in the 1990s. This negative image around Nike’s operations lingers to this day, no matter how much it invests in TV advert campaigns or high profile sponsorship deals with top athletes – and long after the working practices were changed. Sometimes the damage cannot be undone, even if the firm in question has millions to spend.
Modern consumers, business buyers, staff and suppliers also, are now more engaged than ever before in corporate integrity. It is not just greed that can backfire. Any poor behaviour on the part of a company can be instant news, thanks to social media like Facebook or Twitter, and online review sites. Companies have to get things right first time; the importance of return policies must be recognised; worker’s rights, local community works, and the need for spokespeople to avoid gaffes when interacting with the press, are all part of a solid marketing approach.
Establishing a concise, clear ethical philosophy, and shouting from the rooftops about it, will allow potential customers to see that your organization strives to do good. Then, you must do everything within your power to live up to that standard. Consider the poor image of international charities that have been shown to channel less than 3% of their revenues to the worthy cause they claim to support – while splashing out the remainder on plush offices, or administration costs. Above all, it’s crucial that you are consistent. Show that you are prepared to deliver on your promises!