Marketing or PR: which comes first for new businesses?

When it comes to getting the attention of more customers, it can be difficult to know where to start as a new business.

You want people to know about your product or services but which is the most effective when it comes to building awareness: a marketing campaign or digital public relations (PR) campaign to build hyperlinks?

The answer is both, as it’s pointless to focus only on converting customers if your customers don’t yet know you exist yet.

Now this may sound ludicrous, but when you are developing a digital PR and marketing strategy you should start by not considering the customer at all… at least initially.

According to Gartner, 89 per cent of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience when it comes to converting new customers. This is most likely due to the many businesses that place the customer at the centre of their marketing strategies by focusing on interaction, conversion and loyalty.

Not a bad plan. But also, a crowded one.

It is a common mistake for marketers to solely focus on customers and driving conversions when building marketing and PR campaigns. It is also an understandable error because, after all, that is what will benefit a business the most.

However, this approach jumps the gun by skipping a crucial aspect for a successful marketing strategy – awareness.

A holistic blend of digital PR, paid advertising, content marketing and search engine optimisation creates a sturdy foundation that conversion-based marketing can build upon simultaneously.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, it can pay dividends to set the customer aside in order to prioritise an awareness and branding campaign before acquisition efforts.

Given the rapid evolution of customer behaviours and the technologies they use, a holistic approach is no longer simply an option — it’s an essential framework for any successful marketing and PR strategy.

I suggest looking at gaps in the market where you can make a louder impression. Rather than vying for limited concentration to generate engagement, you should develop your marketing and PR plans based on a holistic strategy that integrates short-term activities (such as paid advertising) with longer-term activities (such as content and SEO).

The optimal way to execute this approach is through martech platforms where marketing is conducted as a multidisciplinary approach. In other words: platforms that enable each individual marketing channel to speak to each other.

After all, it’s pointless to focus only on converting customers if your customers don’t yet know you exist.