Advertising and public relations. They’re pretty much the same, right? Is there a difference? Try to answer the question without Google. I mean, there’s a chance you used it to find this article… um… well, now that you’re here, I’ll just explain.
You shouldn’t feel too bad. Marketing, advertising, and public relations are often mistakenly used interchangeably in everyday conversations, loosely defined as strategies used to increase a company’s brand awareness and generate sales. They’re all related to that idea, but they have distinct differences. Let me break it down for you.
Think of marketing as a lovely fruit salad. The fruit salad has various fruit ingredients, similar in their general fruitiness, but different in color, texture, flavor, and nutritional value. In marketing, two important ingredients are advertising and public relations, and one could argue that comparing advertising and public relations is like comparing apples and oranges.
Now, the fruit salad lives in a bowl. In this analogy, the bowl represents the media. Marshall McLuhan wrote legendary research arguing that the medium is the message, meaning that what you have to say and the method by which you’re going to say it are inextricably intertwined. Whether you consume your fruit salad in a bowl, on a plate, with your hands, or through an IV, you transport it through something, and what you choose as that medium affects the overall experience of the fruit salad.
Media—including television, radio, search engines, social media, newspapers, trade shows, snail mail, and even word of mouth—transport the message of your brand to your audience. Both advertising and public relations typically utilize the same avenues of the media, but with different intent and strategy. Advertising jumps into the conversation, and public relations entices the target audience to jump into the conversation themselves. I’ll discuss how you can use the media for both your advertising and your PR efforts as I describe the difference between them.
Advertising—the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements (Merriam-Webster)
Advertising is a paid message tailored to a target audience, and it specifically requires creating appealing audio/visual content. The content communicates to the target audience and the public through media, including taglines, photo shoots, billboards, magazines, TV, and radio spots or even practicing search engine optimization with paid search advertising .
Successful advertising promotes awareness, creates a desire for the product or service, highlights the image of the company (its brand), and encourages action. Advertising is a marketing tactic that strategically targets the people who would want to consume it. That means advertisements are essentially their own offers; your company trades money for the audience’s time and attention, and the audience trades its time and attention for information, justification, or pure entertainment.
Approximately 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the Falcons and the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2017. The majority of them watched—consciously or subconsciously—the commercials that debuted throughout game time. Aside from $1,000,000 average cost to produce a Super Bowl commercial , advertisers paid about $5,000,000 for 30 seconds of airtime and upwards of another $1,000,000 to market the commercial’s release before the game. Whew, that’s a lot of money, but the Super Bowl’s vast viewership gives power to advertising that can easily make the price worth it. They’re such a phenomenon in America that, for some viewers , the game is just something to watch between commercials.
People enjoy them because great advertisements evoke emotion. You laugh. You cry. You feel something about the advertisement and, by association, the brand. When you create advertisements, it should be a given that you root them in your company’s branding. Brand represents your company’s personality, values, skills, and everything important to your business. Guess what? Those things matter to your customers, too. And that’s where public relations become crucial.
Public relations—the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, film, or institution (Merriam-Webster)
Once released, it’s up to the recipient to decide the message’s meaning and worth. When executed properly, a good public relations strategy stretches the brand’s reach and collects loyal followers that match the brand.
Broadly, the public relations field concentrates on the relationship between the company and the public. (It seems self-explanatory now, doesn’t it?) Here at HeavyDuty, we prefer to get specific, so we call these efforts targeted relations. Targeted relations strategies increase favorability for the company and its products on a scale that advertising alone can’t do. So these strategies usually come to fruition behind the scenes. In contrast to advertising, other than production costs, you don’t pay for the spotlight—relations strategies weave themselves into your target’s conversation. Once you’ve aimed and launched your marketing campaign to the right people, ideally, they’ll circulate your message to more of the right people organically. Then, you need to be involved in every touchpoint of that conversation to keep it alive and well.
The 1999 film The Blair Witch Project grossed $248,639,099 during its initial theatrical run, and along the way, it sparked a new trend for the horror genre, on a $60,000 production budget. The film follows three college students filming a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. To create hype before the film’s release, creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez handed out a few clips of the film around US universities, and the students spread them like wildfire. Myrick and Sanchez also published missing persons reports for the main characters, hosted an amateur website about the story, and submitted the piece to film festivals as a documentary. Thus, the creators fueled the horror factor and the intrigue, securing their substantial viewership by convincing their target audience that the events actually happened—and they absolutely, positively did not. But to this day, people still Google “Is the Blair Witch Project real?” The public recognizes The Blair Witch Project not only as a cult classic with an ongoing following, but also as the catalyst for a new trend in horror—found footage. By taking advantage of the media and the chilling, mysterious nature of the product they sold, The Blair Witch Project made its mark on the industry.
You can do the same. Whether you realize it or not, your brand already has an identity, and you have resources at your disposal. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram have dramatically strengthened and shortened the communication path between a brand and its customers. A customer can instantly broadcast a company’s brand message, which in turn can spread around the world in moments, at basically no cost. That can work for you or against you, so make it work for you with consistency in your tone, attitude, values—all the things that make up your brand identity. And when you mess up—and you will—be quick to respond with sincere respect. Your real-life friendships require transparency, personal connection, and effort. Your brand’s relationships work the same way.
You Need Both
Advertising might seem like PR on steroids, and PR might seem like free advertising. But that’s like saying that an apple is just a red orange—sure, they’re both fruits, but they’re different fruits. You need to push advertising to acquire your audience. You need PR to keep your audience. Advertising and public relations have to partner up to support your marketing as a whole.
Finding a marketing team is like finding a spouse. Marketing agencies (good ones, at least) hope to grow a lasting partnership with you. But not every agency will be compatible with your business. The last thing you want to do is waste your valuable time and money on an agency that fails to provide what you need or doesn’t value their relationship with you… beyond your money. Any marketing team you bring on should easily fit in with your company, forming one team devoted to a common goal.
To help the process, we’ve compiled five steps to guide you in finding a full-service marketing agency for you.
1. Know what you want.
You need to know where you want to go. You don’t need to know how you’re going to get there, but you definitely need to know where “there” is. Ask yourself and your team: What are your goals and challenges as a company, division, or brand? What results are you looking for? Dig deep. Come up with something more specific than “get more sales.” For example:
Great marketers are strategically creative. If you’re specific about what you hope to achieve, your marketing firm can take your challenge and design measureable solutions that meet your goals and objectives. When you find the right team for your company, they might even talk you out of some of your proposals. Maybe your company has grown bored with its logo, but it still makes your customers happy. A great marketing team will veer you away from wasting your money and instead find solutions that optimize it. Like when you take your best friend shopping with you, and she tells you honestly that the dress does, in fact, make you look fat.
2. Know and share your budget.
More than once, companies have come to HeavyDuty without a budget. It’s like asking a contractor to build a home for you without specifying how much you want done. They could build a modest one-story cottage or a bona fide mansion, and you would have to pay for it. The sky is not the limit.
Don’t hire a marketing agency if you don’t know how much you’re willing and able to spend . You definitely don’t want to spend your marketing dollars on creative ideas that you cannot afford to put into action, and you also don’t want to find out that you could have reached more people if you had aimed higher. And, unfortunately, there are those that will try to swindle you into unnecessary ventures and charge you more than their services are really worth.
Once you know who your marketing partner will be, you can trust them to use their expertise to build or refine your plans according to your budget. A good agency should honestly demonstrate how they use each dollar you spend, and they should prove how your budget is better spent with them. You should spend exactly enough with them to achieve your goals. No more, no less.
3. Look for relevant experience.
Has the agency taken another company where you want to be? A marketer doesn’t need expertise in your specific industry to be the perfect fit, but you want a firm that knows how to handle challenges similar to yours. They might have an impressive repertoire with companies that have thousands of employees, but they might not know how to make solutions suitable for your 15-person powerhouse.
For example, if you want to increase your network of distributors, look for ways they’ve assisted other companies to do just that. You will then have peace in knowing that they can bring aspects of their time-tested strategies to the table while developing solutions unique to your business. Savvy marketing agencies typically have online portfolios and case studies where you can see their previous work for yourself.
The ideal agency should be a pragmatic, seasoned team of marketers and creatives who develop and execute innovative strategies, in-house or through a rich network of trusted affiliates. Their work should show versatility and precision. That way, you only have to search and hire once. You can be confident that when a new challenge arises, you have the power to conquer it. One of your needs could be crafting an advertisement while another could be building a trade show booth—very different.
Bonus tip: If one of your objectives is to increase social media engagement in any way, check out the agency’s own social media accounts. Now, if they have stylistic differences or a different tone of voice from how you perceive yourself as a company, it’s not necessary to worry. But, come on, multiple grammatical errors, poorly communicated writing, shoddy graphics—those should signal you to reconsider their expertise.
4. Get to know them as people.
Prior to a discovery meeting with the candidates that you’ve selected so far, get together with your own team and prepare a list of questions for the interviewees. Don’t ask solely about your specific project. Find out how the agency gets any project started, how they treat their client relationships, and how they handle logistical tasks like billing. Great questions allow both parties to get a better understanding of whether or not you’ll be a good fit for each other. This is a relationship. When meeting with agency candidates, try to get an understanding of their culture and values. You might think of your company as family. You might pride yourself on your attention to detail. Your business partner should share those values.
When you meet with prospective agencies, is the atmosphere harmonious with yours? Or can you sense someone’s personality traits—especially if they’ll be working with you directly—clashing with members of your own team? It could become a bigger issue than you realize at first. If you value your timeliness, how would you feel about a company that doesn’t give you deadlines? If you think of your company as family, how would you feel about a company that only cares about profits? A company’s core values and personality give insight into your future relationship. Culture compatibility increases the potential for a successful collaboration, and with the right firm, it should spark a personal connection.
Our favorite question to answer is “Why do you do what you do?” One value that you should look for in any company, regardless of industry, is a results-driven attitude. Plenty of marketing teams have brilliantly creative minds and high accolades but fail to focus on the goals of the campaign. They’ll try awesome, wacky solutions that might garner attention in the short-term, but in the long-term, cannot sustain your brand alone. Don’t go with an agency that just wants to get its own creative fix. Choose a team that will do what it takes to see you succeed.
5. Make your decision.
The selection process requires knowledge of the firm: their culture, their team, and their capabilities. Hire based on how the company has demonstrated their creativity, ability to achieve results on budget, and their values as people. After you’ve checked off your requirements on paper, hire the marketing team that you feel in your gut is right.
To see how HeavyDuty does things as an agency, schedule a free 30-minute meeting with me .
Personal branding is more important than ever, but the term is not new. Tom Peters, an expert of business management practices, introduced the idea of a personal brand to the world in 1997 in his iconic article “ The Brand Called You .” Think of yourself as a product that the world needs. Identify what makes you special and use the knowledge of your talents and characteristics to brand yourself, just like you would if you were trying to sell one of your great ideas.
Whether you’re trying to get a job, promotion, client, funding, or you just want respect and admiration from your family, friends, and peers, it is essential to become your own PR expert. Every interaction is a distinct opportunity for your personal brand to grow. Before you do anything, determine your defining characteristics. What makes you different from other people? What are your strengths, passions, and goals? What are your core values? Your answers lay the groundwork for your personal brand. Only then can you begin the heavy lifting.
Maintaining engagement with your audience is increasingly difficult as the digital landscape evolves. From social media posts to blogs to newsletters, the amount of opportunities for customer engagement has grown tremendously. Where content marketing was once a great bonus, it’s now become a requirement for building a successful digital presence.
So what exactly is content marketing ?
Content marketing is the link between brand awareness and lead generation. When executed properly, content can build trust, familiarity and loyalty with current and prospective customers. However, in order to reap all the benefits content has to offer, you must first develop your content marketing strategy. By following these five steps you’ll be well on your way.
1. Document Your Goals, Budget and Strategy
What goals are you hoping to accomplish with your content? How much are you able to spend on content marketing? What kind of content will you be producing? These questions may seem obvious but they are essential to developing a quality content marketing strategy. Goals, budgeting and strategy all go hand-in-hand. A marketing plan without direction is destined for failure. The goals you set for your content can range from developing brand awareness to driving traffic to your website. Once your goals have been identified, it’s important to set up a strategy based on a budget. Larger budgets allow for more expansive strategy options while smaller budgets may require a bit more creativity to execute. No matter the amount of money you can spend, the strategy is ultimately what will determine your success.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Content marketing is less about selling and more about educating, entertaining, or otherwise informing your readers. In order to accomplish this best, you should identify exactly who your audience is across your social media channels, blog readers, or anywhere else you plan on posting your content. Once your audience has been established, the next step is to understand their needs and market directly towards them. For instance, if your target audience consumes content from YouTube more than any other channel, then producing the best video content should be a top priority. Keep in mind that you’re creating content that appeals to your consumers and not yourself; by focusing on their needs you’ll be in a better position to capitalize on their interests.
3. Create a Content Execution Plan
Once a strategy for your content marketing has been determined, create an execution plan. The execution plan adds stability to your efforts, and ensures that you can track the progress of each piece of content at every level. The plan itself should include a schedule, a brainstorm session or outline, and the creation of the actual content.
Assessing your target audience should provide you with some context on how to schedule your content. If your audience is extremely engaged, then you may want to post relevant content weekly or even daily, based off the audience consuming it. Creating a calendar for your content allows for accountability and consistency.
When it comes to the creative process, certain people should be responsible for regularly contributing content ideas. However, the development of your content should be transparent so that anyone who has a great idea can contribute. You don’t want someone to keep an idea to themselves because of restrictions. Once an idea is approved, you can move along to creating it.
Since content creation is the last part of the process, there should be defined roles for all involved. A typical execution process begins with writers and designers who expand upon the ideas developed during the idea phase. Once the content is written it is passed off to a copy editor who may then pass it along to designers. Once the piece is reviewed by all those involved in the process and revisions are made, your content is ready to go!
4. Determine Key Metrics
Measuring the metrics of your content is integral to determining the success of your strategy. The objectives you initially set for your content marketing strategy will dictate the metrics you value. Examples of metrics that can be measured include website traffic, leads, or sales. These metrics help prove the value of your content strategy efforts on a larger scale, which is extremely valuable when dealing with stakeholders who either aren’t exposed to the content marketing side of your business, or who are skeptical of its value.
5. Evaluate and Refine Your Strategy
The key to success in content marketing is the ability to evaluate your strategy and refine it based on performance. In addition to determining metrics for your content marketing strategy, you will need to establish a regular schedule for tracking the performance of your content. Maintaining a schedule for analyzing data allows for you to objectively evaluate your current processes. With digital marketing constantly evolving and new platforms arising, it’s vital that your strategy adapt as well.
There you have it: a guide to content marketing. By leveraging these best practices, you can create an effective content marketing strategy or fine-tune the one you already have in place. It will take some work to build when you’re just starting out, but it will be worth it in the long-run.
Creating a robust strategy is vital to an effective marketing campaign. There are lots of ad formats and types to choose from, but one important one to remember is the retargeting ad.
What are retargeting ads? They’re ads that are directed towards people who have already visited your website and interacted with your brand. Unlike display ads, which are shown to everyone, retargeting ads allow you to anonymously follow your website visitors around the Web and display your content in useful and effective ways, helping to turn potential customers into qualified leads.
This type of advertisement can prove particularly important; studies note that 73% of all business to business leads are not sales-ready when they first interact with your brand. This suggests a need to continue to reach out to help them along the buyers journey until they’re ready to make a purchase. Email marketing is one tactic to consider, but online digital retargeting is another great way to remind and re-engage your customers.
Here are a few best practices to consider when you’re creating retargeting ads:
1. Integrate Retargeting Ads into Your Marketing Budget
Marketing results will reflect how much time and planning you put into the campaign. In order to be effective they need to be comprehensive. Planning your retargeting ads and budgeting for them correctly is an excellent way to make sure your marketing plan is robust and compelling. This may seem obvious but simple tactics often are the best. If you are thorough in your budgeting and planning, it will show in your performance.
It’s also important to make realistic and trackable goals for retargeting ads, as well as your entire campaign. What do we mean by realistic? Think direct conversion and click through rates, or a quantifiable number that you can track. Create goals that will actually measure if your ads are effective by making them simple, trackable, and precise. And remember, when we say track, we mean early and often
2. Choose the Right Platform and Type
Once you’ve set your budget and created your plan, there are a number of platforms and types of retargeting ads from which to choose. The main platforms are Facebook, Google, and Bing. The platform you choose should reflect what kind of company you are and the habits of your ideal buyer. If your brand has a lot of personality and embraces a strong community presence, Facebook is probably the right platform for you. If you want to appeal to a more professional audience, you might be better suited for Google or Bing. Each platform has different steps to set up the ads, but are all three are generally straight-forward and user-friendly.
Next, choose which of the two types of retargeting ads will work best for you. The first is called list-based. These ads are generated for people who have voluntarily given your company their contact information for your database. The second and more common type are called pixel-based. This type of retargeting ad tracks anonymous site visitors and redisplays your advertisement once they’ve left your page.
3. Segmentation is Everything
The importance of segmenting your audience cannot be overstated. This is true for retargeting ads and just about every piece of your overall marketing plan. Segmenting your audiences for your retargeting ads allows to you speak directly to where potential leads are in the buyers journey, and target them with products they’ve already expressed interest in. With Pixel based retargeting ads you can create different ads for the different pages and products that site visitors browsed. If visitors looked at something specific you can make sure the ad generated for them is for the product they were searching for. It’s rare, delightful and effective when ads are tailored specifically for potential customers and what they uniquely were searching for.
Another important point to consider is the destination URL connected to each ad you create. Instead of linking every ad directly to your home page or product page, tailor the link to match the subject matter of the ad.
4. Don’t be Annoying
Repetition can become annoying, and if your retargeting ads are following site visitors all over the Web, they could quickly become bored with the messaging. The last thing you want is to turn interest in your product into aversion or dislike. Frequency caps are a useful setting that can prevent oversaturating your target audience and make sure they only see the ad a few times; enough to tempt them but hopefully not overwhelm or annoy them.
Burn codes are another useful tool you can use to make sure your ads are only working for you and not against you. Burn codes are little snippets of code that you can place in your post-transactional page where leads are taken after they make a purchase. They allow you to make sure you don’t run these ads for visitors that have already been converted to customers, so you don’t waste your spend budget on people who are already fans, and don’t get annoyed after they’ve made a purchase.
5. Analyze Your Ad’s Results
Analyzing your ad is paramount to its success – and by no means should you wait until after the campaign is over to start doing it. Create ads with different copy, different images, new CTAs and track how they perform in your retargeting ads. Only change one element at a time so you can be sure of the effect of each change, but don’t be afraid to test everything. It’s probably a good idea to switch up your audience segmentation every now and then too, just to make sure your retargeting ad is doing the very best that it possibly can.
In conclusion, retargeting ads are a must-have for any thorough digital marketing plan. With the help of these best practices, your retargeting ads can become the foundation of your digital lead targeting strategy. Remember, planning beforehand and analyzing your results throughout is the best way to make sure your campaigns work successfully.