Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Are you thinking about your next career move? With the increase in digital marketing, there are lots of new career paths you could pursue. If you want a flexible opportunity that can grow with you and promises a steady salary, you might want to pursue a communications or marketing degree. What's the difference between marketing vs communications?

Before you sign up for a class in a new field, here's what you need to know about the differences (and similarities).

Marketing vs Communications: What's the Big Difference?

The good news is that marketing and communications have some overlap that makes both a great move for your career. They are both a core component of a robust marketing strategy, but they have slightly different focuses.

Numbers and Statistics vs. Words

Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

The first and most significant difference between marketing and communications is how success is measured.

Those responsible for marketing strategies are focused on the bottom-line numbers: how many clients or leads are brought in, campaign performance, and profit. Marketing managers know exactly who they are targeting and use market research to do just that. Statistics are a core component of marketing.

Communications strategies are more focused on the words used to relay a feeling to that ideal avatar that the marketing strategy targets. Oftentimes, they rely on copywriting to create content for a wide variety of customers and outlets. They might write newsletters for email marketing, copy for a landing page, and blog content.

Outcomes vs. Attitudes

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Because of the last difference, it might be clear to you that there's another difference between those who have a communications degree and those who have a marketing degree.

Namely, they concern themselves with two dramatically different levels of success.

Marketing managers are typically concerned with the outcomes of a digital marketing strategy. They want to know what the bottom line of the advertising effort is costing them and if it has a great return on investment (ROI). If there is no discernible outcome, then the marketing department will need to refocus its efforts.

On the other hand, corporate communications is focused on the attitudes of those public relations campaigns. Communications focuses on how people feel about a brand and if the target audience is likely to view them favorably. It's less about the numbers and more about the feeling.

Salary Differences

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Last but not least, there is a salary difference between marketing and communications careers. For those who are more concerned with the bottom line, a marketing career may be the better option. It tends to pay more than communications in the long run.

Entry-level marketers make an average of $48,752 annually, while marketing managers make about $140,000 annually.

Entry-level communications representatives make slightly more at $62,101, while managers make about $123,777.

While you may make more initially from communications careers, marketing has the better salary if you are looking for a career you can stick with long-term. However, they are so similar at higher levels that it may pay off to score that higher starting salary associated with communications careers.

What is Marketing?

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Now that we have the differences between marketing vs communications out of the way, it's time to think about what each one offers individually. Pursuing a marketing degree means you are going to be thoroughly invested in the nitty-gritty details of marketing campaigns.

Marketing covers promoting and advertising for the company you work with to help them find new clientele who will contribute to the bottom line of the business. It's a lot of strategic planning and statistics that prove that target customers are being reached with a campaign.

In other words, marketing focuses on emerging technologies to help leverage these capabilities for financial profit.

What is Communications?

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Unlike marketing, communications focuses on both written and spoken communication. Instead of looking at the numbers, a communications degree helps you to focus more on the experience of the ideal customer avatar. Everything about it is designed to be customer-centric, including the essential experience of intercultural communication.

It's about the quality of the relationship you're nurturing over how many leads and sales you make. Communications professionals want to make a lasting impression rather than just making a sale in the here and now.

While the goal is ultimately the same (help customers find a brand they love), they take different forms. Communications is often focused more on inbound marketing such as content creation, including writing a blog post or email campaigns. Marketing is more focused on outbound marketing, reaching new and potential clients.

If you choose to work in communications, you may want to consider becoming a content marketing consultant.

Similarities in Marketing vs Communications

As you might have gathered, there is a lot of overlap in what a marketing or communications role may play. Both are focused on improving company perception, though one is focused on the dollars and the other more so on brand management.

Here are some similarities that might lead you to study both marketing and communications as your ideal career path forward.

Desire to Reach an Audience with a Timely Message

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

While communicators focus on the actual wording of the message, both marketers and communications majors will want to reach an audience with the right message at the right time. While communications majors might work on inbound marketing and marketers work on outbound, both aim to improve the lives of their target audience.

They are passionate about the companies they work for and want the world to know about what is being offered.

Increase Performance and Recognition of the Brand

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Despite having different sets of tools to manage any given marketing plan, both roles are focused on driving more sales to the company. Marketers concern themselves with the bottom-line numbers, but that doesn't mean those in communications careers don't care. They simply pride themselves on how well the words they write drive sales.

Both want the business to take off and see massive success. After all, their jobs depend on it. While they have key differences in what matters to them, performance is at the heart of all they do.

Skills Required for Success

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Whether you work in marketing or communications, you will still have to have some of the same skills. As with most positions these days, you need excellent interpersonal communication skills. You should be able to communicate with the team you are on, as well as other departments, to yield the best results.

Plus, you will need to have a great deal of creativity to get the company's message out to other people. No matter what your niche, you will have to come up with innovative new ways of reaching people via marketing campaigns or content marketing.

Platforms Used (Social Media, Website, Commercials, Etc.)

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Of course, there is also significant overlap in how marketing and communications professionals reach their given audience. In today's world, social media is one of the most prevalent areas where industry trends are leading both marketers and communicators to market.

The specific message you send and the specific platform you use will differ, but you should have some familiarity with all of them.

There are also more traditional means of communicating a message to a prospective customer: print ads, website content marketing, Google ads, commercials, and more. There is a seemingly endless list of potential platforms that both marketing and communications professionals will need to understand.

It's all about delivering information by any means necessary, whether that requires social networking, press releases, or some other means of hitting the right audience at the right time.

Could You Use a MarComm Degree?

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Marketing vs Communications: How Are They Different?

Many people find that they don't want to decide between marketing and communications. Both aspects of the marketing plan are interesting to them. This is why many schools are now offering what is known as MarComm degrees, where students double major.

This allows the overlap to work in your favor. You can earn the high-dollar compensation of a marketing manager while working with the words and content of the communications department. It makes you more versatile in the industry and gives you an endless supply of potential positions.

Many programs will allow you to get your bachelor's degree in both areas which can be great for your potential income down the line.

Final Thoughts: Will You Choose Marketing vs Communications?

Do you have in-depth knowledge related to running a marketing campaign or focusing on content marketing? It might be time for you to think about making a career path out of those skills, which could start with going back to school for a marketing degree or a communications degree (or both!).

Whether you want to write website content or analyze the numbers, there is likely something in one of these two career paths for you to follow if you love digital marketing. Consider whether you might be well suited to making a job switch to one of these fields!

Here are some other courses for business that might help you to jumpstart a new career in these areas!

Tran Danh
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Tran Danh

I'm Tran Danh, the author behind Smart Passive Income (SPI), a blog dedicated to online business and entrepreneurship. I started this blog in 2008, following in the footsteps of Pat Flynn, the founder. Being one of the leading business blogs globally, SPI attracts over 2 million readers each month. Through my content, I aim to assist individuals in generating passive income from various online sources. Join me on this transformative journey as we delve into the world of online business and uncover the strategies and tactics that have led to tremendous success for myself and countless others.

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