Blurred Lines: The Messy Distinction Between Marketing & Communications.

I was recently called out by another marketer on twitter for conflating marketing and communications. They were right to do so

The chap in question drew my attention to the famous 4 Ps principle, correctly pointing out that communication is just one part of “promotion”:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Placement

It’s a fair challenge and one he made well (the irony being that my previous tweet had made made much the same point), but I do still think it’s a topic too complicated to reduce to 4 narrow definitions. There is, after all, a huge overlap between each of these components – separating placement of product from a promotional strategy is near impossible, and the price we set is both determined by and inherently a part of, the product sold. Aston Martins are expensive because of they way they are built, and the customer experience of the product would be profoundly altered by a lowering of the price.

The exchange (which ended up coming from a dozen or so sources) was actually very interesting and it’s important to have your conceptions challenged, but for me it highlighted a couple of misunderstandings, particularly around copywriting:

  • A good copywriter does a lot more than just write copy. They use their understanding of buyer behaviour to craft the key messaging and provide direction for every other person involved in the content production process.
  • One does not need the words “copywriter” in their job title to be a copywriter. In fact the best copywriters are likely to be promoted to roles that don’t contain those words, but it doesn’t mean their ability to create and sell their ideas through the extraordinary use of language and stories become any less important.
  • Being a good copywriter does not mean the person has immaculate technical writing skills. In fact the first person who ever introduced me to the notion of copywriting (who incidentally was the single best marketer I’ve ever worked with and now runs a half billion pound organistion at the age of 32) was severely dyslexic. Technically his writing was a disaster, but he knew what drove people, he knew how to capture their attention and he knew how to tell stories. With a little bit of polish from an editor, his content consistently had the desired impact and by his early 20s he was already a multi-millionaire.

All that said, the chap was right to challenge what had been a slightly careless tweet on my part (and in truth I knew it before I even hit send). There is so much more to marketing than communication. Marketing is everything.