What comes first – the chicken or the egg? It’s a question that has sparked debate for a long time, and it will continue to spark debate for years to come. When it comes to your business and connecting with your customers, there is a similar question. Does marketing, PR, or sales come 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. It will help you create the foundation to grow your business.
Let’s 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.” I would add 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.
What It All Means
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.
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. Where PR is concerned, social media has allowed the media landscape to shift significantly (hello, influencers!), created opportunities for digital brand experiences, and connects brands directly to their audience in real time. 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.
Candace Huntly is Founding Partner at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.