When I took on the title of Marketing and Communications Associate about two years ago, I didn’t realize that it would take me most of that time to figure out exactly what that meant. The question, “Do you prefer working in marketing or communications?” continued to stump me… I couldn’t decide between the two because I couldn’t distinguish between the two disciplines. You can market different communications services and products—you can even market health care benefits plans to an employee audience—but you also use communications skills when you do all of those things. Hence, my conundrum.
My responsibilities seemed to intertwine, so I set out to untangle that knot. What was the purpose of two separate departments? What was my purpose as an employee who contributed to both?
During my time here, I’ve tried to tackle some of those questions. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
• Both branches involve communicating effectively. Whether that’s to a target audience, to internal employees, or in the context of a larger strategy, communicating clearly is not limited to the communications discipline. The concept of marketing guides companies through the development of products, identifies key audiences, establishes pricing and creates and/or promotes a brand. But a communications plan is necessary to execute much of that list.
• Communications is dynamic. At a basic level, it is the practice of creating and managing the flow of information from one party to another—but that can mean many different things and involve a plethora of skill sets. In our case, we work with employers to educate, inspire and engage employees around their benefits. And, we take into consideration how we want those audiences to react to what we present to them. Are we driving employees to a new online benefits portal? Asking them to think about kicking the habit? Our goals then inform our theme and graphic approach, and how we execute our tactics.
• The end result. While marketing creates a product or service and delivers it to the market to generate revenue, communications is not always sales-focused. At its heart, the communications discipline involves bridging gaps between brands, businesses, clients, consumers, and employees, among others. So the goals vary. Ours involve meeting employees where they are to talk to them about the employee benefits they can access.
In the end, I didn’t “untangle” any knot. But I did learn to think about the differences—and similarities—between a marketing strategy and a communications strategy, and how they can help you understand that both disciplines work hand in hand.
To learn more about our practice and how we explore new ways to communicate effectively every day, take a look around our site—and check out our portfolio.