Communications (alone) ain’t marketing.

HomeBlogCommunications (alone) ain’t marketing.

I feel like a broken record on this! But, I’ve just had a ‘strategy call’ with a client that was all about communication tactics and not one drop of strategy. So yeah – I’m gonna say it again – there’s more to marketing than communications! It never continues to amaze me how many people I speak to about marketing and what they actually want is a copywriter.

So what is marketing?

When I studied marketing – the definition that we learnt was: “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

What does that mean?

It means every product or service we buy, every shop we visit, every buying experience we have and every media message across every channel has (or should have!) marketing fingerprints all over it.

This diagram isn’t mine, but gives a great illustration of ALL the different components that should form part of your marketing strategy and activity…

marketing map

Defining your market strategy involves using the 7Ps and takes time to get right. But, this is an investment, not a cost. Get these steps right and you’ll have strong foundations for your promotions.


Understanding your customers is the most important step. Always. Who are they? What problem are you solving? What are their motivations and hesitations? There are so many research techniques that can form part of this diagnosis stage. At this point communications aren’t even on the radar!


In your space there will undoubtedly be alternative providers or products, multiple customer segments and an array of commercial considerations for everything. The strategic approach of segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP – not straight through processing) is the foundation for all of your communications.

  • Segment – your target market. Know the characteristics of each segment.
  • Target – the segments by evaluating the potential and existing commercial attractiveness of each segment.
  • Position – your proposition and marketing mix per segment. Think about how you’re differentiating, the benefits and the value you’re delivering.


You’ve done the ground work – now is the time to bring this all to life and take your product or service to market. The 4Ps have been the backbone of the marketing mix since the 1950s and they stand as strong today as they did 70s years ago.


Your product or service should already be meeting the needs and wants of your customers. You need to know where that product is in its lifecycle. Each stage of the product lifecycle has its own strategies for pricing, distribution (place) and promoting it.


How are you charging for your product or service? Aligning this with what customers will pay for it goes right back to research. What value does it deliver? And how is that value perceived? When is it appropriate to run discounts or offers and how does that impact perception? Understanding these factors is imperative to getting your pricing right.


I’ve avoided pensions right up until now… but I just can’t help myself! So where is the place for pensions? There isn’t a global pension store… and luckily the government solved this conundrum for us by introducing AE. Where you sell a product or service is so important as it directly impacts costs as well as reach. But placement is also a consideration here… how much more aware of pensions would people be if every payslip split take home pay with ‘take home now and take home later’. What if your bank balance also showed your pension savings? Imagine…


Finally! We get to the communications mix. Promotion is the bit that very often gets wrapped up as marketing…but as you can see, it’s only the cherry on the top…

Every available channel forms part of your promotion – from PR through to pay per click and events. The digital age may blur the line of place and promotion as the two can be completely interlinked for many products. And that’s all OK, as long as you’re sticking to the 4Ps.

So…you see… there’s much more to marketing than just communications. Yes we deliver the creative elements, but marketers worth their salt are far more strategic than creative.

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