Marketing and communications:
what’s the difference?

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Marketing and communications: what’s the difference?

From an elevator view, marketing is the study of economic trends within an industry and developing strategies and channels for reaching an intended audience.

Communication is about creating compelling content that activates the audience into taking action.

The two functions work side by side in the digital marketing matrix, and in changing commercial environments it is important that the relationship between your marketing and communications are in sync.

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The marketing function

Marketing involves an analytical and strategic approach with a deep understanding of the business’s long, medium and immediate objectives. It requires thorough research of targeted audience profiles and how to reach those audiences with cost-effective plans that create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Marketers must have the analytical skills to comprehend the business’s products or services and how they add value to the intended customer and how the customer will engage with it.


Highly effective marketing isn’t just advertising, or building a website, or launching an email or SEO campaign. The marketing function will determine the market size and growth potential, the current market trends within an industry, analyse competitors, evaluate geographic and demographic potential and deconstruct customer behaviour. Ideally, it should be a primary driver within your business functions.

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The communication function

Being heard is where communication specialists come in. Quality copywriters do more than put words down and hope they make sense. The idea that writers simply write is a clumsy assumption. High quality copywriters are expert communicators and often specialise in the communications function across the entire business. They can digest complex subject matter and create compelling content and storylines that engage, motivate and activate potential customers and employees so they understand your vision and trust your brand.

The communication function should be one of your most effective sales tools. It speaks directly to your customer and creates the message your customers want to hear.

Being heard in a noisy marketplace is what turns heads. In modern business, the customer is fickle, and staying connected to your customers and attracting new ones is a constant juggling act. Your communications team needs to lean on the marketing strategy and continually evolve the communication strategy to meet the temperamental nature of consumer behaviour.

Simply providing information doesn’t cut it. Customers must be excited about what you offer and feel connected to your brand. Remember, it is not what you say but how you say it.

The differences between marketing and communications

For many SMEs, the differences between marketing and communications is hard to see. And that’s fair enough: both have the aim of promoting a business’s brand, product or services. Marketing builds brand awareness and generates revenue whilst communications build and maintain relationships and activate customers into taking action.

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Both are essential to successful business outcomes, and both work collaboratively and independently depending on any given situation. The hierarchy can be fluid, and each function requires a specialised set of skills and expertise. You want your marketing and communications teams to solve problems from unique positions and have the experience and relationship to know when one function needs to take the lead in differing situations.

This is how you find the most effective solution.

There is a lot of cross-pollination between the two, and the right hand must know what the left hand is doing. Collaboration is vital because what your customers see and hear determines your relevance.

There are many sub-branches to both functions. Marketing often involves other consumer-facing activities such as trade shows, product launches, media and advertising placement. Communications extends to crisis management, public relations, press releases and other serendipitous or unforeseen occurrences that require promotion or explanation. Sometimes a business will need both areas to work together on a specific task or problem, and sometimes they can work independently of each other with success.

Whether marketing and communications are internal or external functions within your business, the nuances between the two reinforce the need for professionals to oversee and manage them.

If your business needs assistance with its marketing or communications, is looking to grow its online presence, or is unsure if your existing marketing and communications strategies are working, get in touch with us today.

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