Marketing and communications remain crucial to startups. Building a more cohesive team dynamic between marketing and communications can offer a young company purpose, direction and language to differentiate its product or service value.
While marketing and communications have distinct goals, magic happens when the two work together to enhance the company's business objectives. Clients often ask me the difference between marketing and communications and how the two can complement each other. Consider these thoughts and steps to better collaboration.
Startups need support for creating a company narrative to help employees tell the story and show company value to customers and prospective customers. A communications plan includes the strategy for meeting business objectives, the target audiences, and the key messages that will resonate with each audience. Communications plans also identify the best ways to tell the story, i.e., media relations, social media sponsorships, website content, and presentations. In-house communications professionals might consider building a team of strong freelance writers to delegate writing projects.
Marketing promotes products or services to a specific audience, whether reaching new customers or retaining existing ones. A strong marketing plan includes strategy, competitive analysis, market research, and identifying industry trends. Marketers use communications to develop and share messages with these audiences. Marketers should consider engaging freelance writers to create content.
How do marketing and communications work together?
Close marketing and communications coordination can be an advantage for customer engagement. That strong team approach offers an opportunity to ensure marketing and communication efforts center around the customer. For example, marketers may leverage company blog content (written by communicators) in marketing efforts, i.e., sales pitches, customer outreach, and company webinars, to help generate leads, and make conversions. Marketing teams can then provide analytics or customer feedback to optimize future content.
Examples of successful collaboration include a customer featuring a company’s newly enhanced product at an industry conference after reading the recent product launch in trade media, a series of thought-leadership blog posts after the marketing team received prospective customer inquiries on a hot topic or a successful case study provided by marketing for communications to leverage on the website, whitepaper, and social media accounts.
Take advantage of the data most startups have at their fingertips because data sharing proves important in developing compelling content. For instance, marketers benefit from sharing industry trends, customer demographics and behavior, market research and internal data (how customers use the product or service) with communicators to enable them to produce more engaging customer copy. Also, marketers and proposal experts often receive requests for information from customers or prospective customers. Those requests can also be helpful to communicators in writing content. Then, once published, communicators can provide data on engagement to ensure that content resonates.
Find ways to share reporting of marketing and communications efforts. For instance, during a recent meeting, did a customer mention a company-bylined article in a trade publication? Did marketing receive a request for information from a prospective customer after reading a company white paper? Did a company expert get invited to speak at an industry conference due to a blog post? All these shared results help to optimize marketing and communications efforts and inform strategy pivots, if appropriate.
Break the silos
Break any silos for improved marketing and communications collaboration. Consider regular team meetings or create a Teams site or Slack channel to exchange information often. For example, one client recently held a successful all-day brand and team-building workshop. Open communication between marketing and communications teams remains critical to executing a solid marketing strategy and achieving business objectives. For a more cohesive communications and marketing approach, know the business objectives, define roles, and responsibilities, meet regularly, share data, and report efforts for better results.
Melanie Taplett is a communications and public relations consultant for the technology, energy, and manufacturing industries.
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