Basic Definitions: Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations, Publicity, and Sales

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    Basic Definitions: Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public
    Relations and Publicity, and Sales

    Entered by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

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    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 more clear to the reader.

    One Definition of Advertising

    Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention
    of potential and current customers. Advertising is focused on
    one particular product or service. Thus, an advertising plan for
    one product might be very different than that for another product.
    Advertising is typically done with signs, brochures, commercials,
    direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.

    One Definition of Promotion

    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 aspects of promotions.

    One Definition of Marketing

    Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making
    sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your customers
    and getting value in return. Marketing is usually focused on one
    product or service. Thus, a marketing plan for one product might
    be very different than that for another product. Marketing activities
    include “inbound marketing,” such as market research
    to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist,
    what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you
    should meet them, etc. Inbound marketing also includes analyzing
    the competition, positioning your new product or service (finding
    your market niche), and pricing your products and services. “Outbound
    marketing” includes promoting a product through continued
    advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

    One Definition of Public relations

    Public relations includes ongoing activities to ensure the
    overall 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, that
    is, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. As noted above, public
    relations is often considered as one of the primary activities
    included in promotions.

    One Definition of Publicity

    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.

    One Definition of Sales

    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). A sales plan for one product might be
    very different than that for another product.

    An Example of the Definitions

    The following example may help to make the above five concepts
    more clear. I recently read that the story comes from the Reader’s
    Digest
    , a quote found in “Promoting Issues and Ideas”
    by M. Booth and Associates, Inc. (Thanks to Jennifer M. Seher,
    participant in the CONSULTANTS@CHARITYCHANNEL.COM online discussion
    group.)

    “… if the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign
    saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising.
    If you put the sign 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 you get the
    mayor to laugh 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.

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