Marketing for Small Businesses

What’s The Difference Between Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations?

Many times clients ask for a specific need like marketing, advertising, public relations or business communications. However, many don’t really understand the difference between each. I thought it would be fun to break each down to help differentiate each area. Although, many cross over. That is part of the fun of what we do here at Beverly Cornell Consulting. Getting to put all the pieces together to create a business model to help get the word out about your product or service that works for your specific business.

What’s the difference?


Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. The American MarketingAssociation has defined 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.”

Assists With:

  • Understanding your target market – who buys your product/services
  • Creating mutually beneficial relationships with that target market
  • Learning how to improve your product or service through feedback from your target market

Think About:

  • Who needs your product or service?
  • What problem/issue is your target market having that you can solve
  • How will your product or service best help them
  • How will you be unique in that problem solving


Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, nonpersonal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. :465. Sponsors of advertising are often businesses who wish to promote their products or services.

Assists With:

  • Promoting one or more aspects of your product or service
  • Sharing the benefits of your product or service

Think About:

  • What do you want to share/advertise that is unique and amazing about your product or service
  • What price point to you want to give your product/service and is it worth it
  • Where does your target market hang out (read, buy, watch, listen etc) – to find the best place to advertise

This is by far the most costly form of getting the word out about your product or service.

Public Relations

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Public relations can also be defined as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics.

Assists With:

  • Framing public opinion about your product or service
  • Spreading your key messages, vision and core values
  • Building relationships with community

Think About:

  • What partnerships/relationships would benefit your product or service – ultimately your business
  • Where can you build those relationships? Organizations, Cities, Charitable works etc.
  • How can you make your target market and people happy with your news

This process can take time to evolve and to consistently provide messaging through news, social media, reviews etc.


Communication is the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules.

The basic steps of communication are:

  1. The forming of communicative intent.
  2. Message composition.
  3. Message encoding and decoding.
  4. Transmission of the encoded message as a sequence of signals using a specific channel or medium.
  5. Reception of signals.
  6. Reconstruction of the original message.
  7. Interpretation and making sense of the reconstructed message.

Business communication is used for a wide variety of activities including, but not limited to: strategic communications planning, media relations, public relations (which can include social media, broadcast and written communications, and more), brand management, reputation management, speech-writing, customer-client relations, and internal/employee communications.

Assists With:

  • Planning and strategy of your entire marketing, advertising, and PR execution
  • Keeps the business and the customers in sync

Think About:

  • How you want all the pieces to fit together
  • What tone you want to have as a brand so that it is filtered through all areas
  • How you want to be known

The Wrap-Up

The comparisons of these areas are not really apples to oranges but maybe a hybrid of all of them! While my degree is in communications, our work over the years has been broad and diverse. This allows us to pull from each area to provide the best tool for each client!


All definitions were gathered from Wikipedia.

Leave a Reply