The Herdbook Ag Media, LLC

Communications or marketing? Here’s why your business needs to know the difference

Today’s businesses have plenty of boats to keep afloat when navigating the seas of relevancy, value and customer expectations. With all that comes lots of jargon and specialized niches which inevitably breed a bit of confusion. As a communications and media specialist, one of the most common I come across is confusing communication with marketing or using the terms almost interchangeably.

Misunderstanding the terminology and perspective duties of each medium is completely understandable. Both marketers and communicators frequently overlap as they both use elements of media, audience, messaging and strategy to accomplish similar (or in some cases the exact same) goals.

Definitions matter

According to Oxford, marketing is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

Communications, on the other hand, is defined by Oxford as “the imparting or exchanging of information or news.”

Based on those definitions, we can see that communication is an essential part of marketing strategies but it is not the end goal of the campaign. Conversely, it is possible to have communications without a marketing bent – but a company with a history of effective and transparent communication is much more likely to score and retain customers.

The distinction between the two is important because marketing and communications professionals often work together. Not to mention, while they can both be described accurately as “content creators” communicators and marketers are trained differently. They each have their own specialty toolboxes and resources to get their jobs done right – and if you approach them with the wrong project you may be disappointed with the end results.

When dishing out a project (especially when bringing on contractors) you want to ensure the right specialists are doing the job that suits them best.

The right strokes for the right folks

Understanding the end goal of a particular project is essential for a company to fully grasp before outsourcing (or assigning in-house) to a communications or marketing specialist. It isn’t uncommon for communications/media agencies to be approached by a team really wanting a marketing strategy and vice versa.

Here are some helpful guidelines for determining if your needs are rooted in communications or marketing:

  • If you need a long-term or ongoing way to enhance engagement with your customers (or potential customers) you’re in the realm of communications.
  • If you have a new product launch or promotion you need to push to a specific audience within a specific timeline, you’re focused on marketing but may want some collaboration with communications to help with the wordsmithing and/or content creation.
  • If you want to identify your audience and conduct specific market research, you’ll need hardcore marketing experts.
  • If you need to prepare need an illustrated a message internally or externally, this is a job for someone in communications.

A look into a successful company’s online presence, content and promotions will reveal a synchrony of both marketing and communication tactics. But the happy marriage of these specialties is all thanks to professionals who excel in their respective departments.

If you need to add some communications experts to your team, we’re glad you found us! At The Herdbook we specialize in agriculture, animal, agtech, food and rural lifestyle-based industries. Learn more about our services here or book a free discovery call!

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