This question came up recently in a Twitter chat we took part in. It sparked an “interesting” discussion with most participants on one side of the discussion and one participant on the other. The larger group felt that marketing strategy clearly had to come first. One voice said that PR came first.
At SongBird, we strongly believe that – no matter how much bravado you use to try to argue otherwise – your marketing strategy should come first.
But, in case you have your doubts, we’re going to break the discussion down to talk about why it’s important to see your strategy development this way.
Defining Marketing, PR, and Sales
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “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.” We will take that one step further and say that your marketing strategy will define any of your outreach through the foundational work that is done to develop your brand strategy. If you take the basics into account, marketing is about the four P’s – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
The Canadian Public Relations Society defines Public Relations as “the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest.” It really boils down to the fact that PR is meant as a way to manage your brand reputation whether you are a business, organization, or an individual expert.
The Business Dictionary defines sales as “The activity or business of selling products or services.” Some also describe it as the actual exchange of money for products or services.
If you look at the above definitions, marketing is the umbrella that covers everything, whereas PR and sales are methods or tools to use to connect with your target audience.
Shifting Business Challenges
While the definitions show that each fits into a different box or silo, technology has made answering the overall question of which comes first harder because it has blurred the lines between marketing, PR, and sales. For example, social media has changed the game for all three things. It could actually be considered part of Marketing, PR, and Sales given what it is used for. For example, social media has changed the face of PR as it has allowed the media landscape to shift significantly, digital brand experiences, and spontaneous dialogue to connect brands to their public directly. In terms of Marketing, it is a way for a company to promote what they have to offer as well as develop a strong brand presence and general awareness. Where sales is concerned, most social media channels allow you to sell directly from posts, and act as a lead generation machine to funnel into your sales funnel.
For small businesses – and larger companies running lean – whose teams are also small, the lines become even more blurred because one person might wear multiple hats. The same person might be responsible for the overall marketing strategy, creating branded sales materials, social media, experiential events, influencer relations, and media relations. In a larger company 5 or 6 people – or more – might manage these things.
In spite of the fact that the lines are blurred, marketing should always come first. Your PR and Sales strategies should support your overall marketing strategy and goals, which should support your overall business strategy and goals.
To be clear, marketing, PR, and sales all need to work together to get you to where you need to be, but you should really explore your marketing strategy before launching into your PR and sales execution.
If you need to set up a good foundation to connect with your target audiences, we can help you through our brand and business strategy package or you can call us and we’ll discuss your specific needs.