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Marketing, Branding, PR, Advertising - the difference?

+ Posted by Peter Bowden

Marketing, Branding, Public Relations, Advertising, and Research - perhaps most importantly research - have to work together as part of your strategic plan. Isn't all the same, you ask? Hardly. Here's the breakdown.

Marketing -- this is the catch all for everything. Marketing involves branding, messaging, online presence, content, social media, PR, advertising, research...this is where it all should live.

Branding -- as a part of marketing, this is the visual element of a company or the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO). It includes everything from the story of the destination (or product); it's reputation, and promise of what the community stands for. It can be, but NOT always be about a logo and tagline used on different marketing collateral. Branding is important, because it's what you want someone to feel when they come into initial contact. Some say it's just a logo...tell that to Coca-Cola.

Public Relations - is all about getting your brand (story) out in the public eye and talked about. PR is about relationships. When working with a PR firm, be sure they understand your business, especially as a DMO. Public relations is just one part of the marketing aspect for the destination or DMO -- and it goes beyond print (traditional media) - there has to be a strong online presence and consumers/visitors backing up your message.

Advertising -- is the external delivery of your message. And the digital age has changed everything. The first thing to understand is the difference between traditional and new media advertising. Traditional advertising includes things like print, billboards, newspaper, radio and broadcast and cable television. The new media includes Google AdWords, social media advertising, video, banner ads, etc. The great thing about new media advertising is the ability to track and measure everything as well as change the message as market conditions change.

Keep in mind, digital advertising includes specific like demographics and psychographics of a target market.

Smart destination marketing pros know that all of the these elements - marketing, branding et al. - need to be integrated with one another and very much a part of a strategic plan in order to leverage as many opportunities as possible, which leads to the best return on investment (ROI). And all of this is driven by sales. Which means all messaging should be consistent and have strong calls to action to drive the bottom line revenue.

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The Author

Peter F. Bowden, TMP

President & CEO, Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

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