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  • Writer's pictureJodi-Tatiana Charles

Marketing Navigation: Strategist vs. Public Relations Rep for Small Businesses

August 21, 2023

The notion of stepping up your marketing game might seem both exhilarating and daunting. After all, marketing is the magical gateway to brand visibility and customer engagement. However, as with any endeavor, diving in without a clear strategy can be a bit like setting sail without a map – you might end up somewhere unexpected! So, let's put on our marketing explorer hats and venture forth to unravel the mysteries of strategy verses public relations (PR) for small businesses.


1. The Misconception about Media Buzz

The allure of media attention! It's like the pot of gold at the end of the marketing rainbow. But, what if your business doesn't have a groundbreaking event to share? Fear not, for marketing is not solely about shouting from the rooftops at every milestone.

This is where a well-structured marketing strategy comes in handy. It's the compass that helps you navigate the vast sea of marketing possibilities.


Consider Betty’s Boardwalk Donut’s. They didn't need to invent a new donut flavor every week to attract customers. Instead, they devised a strategy to engage their audience through monthly "Donut Trivia Tuesdays" on social media. By tapping into their customers' love for donuts, they created a consistent and engaging campaign that didn't rely on grand news events.


2. The Strategist vs. Public Relations Showdown

Before we delve deeper, let's clarify the roles of our main characters: the marketing strategist and the PR representative. Picture the marketing strategist as the chess player for your business, skillfully orchestrating a grand strategy to achieve your long-term goals. Their moves are carefully planned and executed, each contributing to the path of long-term success – whether it entails boosting sales, fortifying brand loyalty, or expanding your customer base.


Now, on the flip side, we introduce the public relations representative – similar to the checkers player in this analogy. Their role involves being the charismatic voice that disseminates your businesses story through media outlets, industry experts, and events. They work diligently to construct and uphold a favorable image for your business, focusing on the immediate gains and swift outcomes that resonate with the public.


Both roles come into play as we steer the rocky waters of business.


3. Timing is Everything

So, when do you call in the salty dogs and lifeguards? When should you unfold the marketing strategy and unleash the PR powerhouse? The answer: it depends.


Marketing Strategist: The moment you feel like your marketing efforts resemble castles in the sand – something needs to change. If you're unsure of your target audience, struggling to differentiate your brand, or simply not seeing the results you desire, a marketing strategist can help.


Let's say Sam's Surf School wants to expand beyond its local clientele. A marketing strategist can develop a plan to identify target markets, create compelling offers, coach the team, and optimize online presence.


Public Relations Representative: Once your business is polished and ready to strut its stuff, a PR representative can help amplify your message. Launching a new product? Hosting an event? These are golden opportunities to shout your accomplishments from the crow’s nest.


Imagine Mia's Artisanal Beachwear introducing a new line of unique fashions. Instead of going all out to create new styles all the time, they simply unveil exotic seasonal options. Just like a ship navigating calm waters, they effectively showcase their creativity and get people excited about their products. A PR representative can arrange press releases, interviews, and influencer collaborations to create a buzz that resonates far and wide.


4. Budgeting Wisely for Strategy and PR

Ah, the dreaded budget talk. But fear not, for we are here to ensure your money is invested wisely.


Hiring a Marketing Strategist is an investment in your business's long-term success. All based on expertise and project complexity. Public Relations Representative can be more flexible in terms of budget. Costs depend on the scale of your campaigns, media outlets, and expert collaborations.


The amount spent on marketing strategists and public relations representatives can vary greatly depending on several factors including the size of the business, industry, goals, and available budget. However, I can provide you with some general guidelines for different stages of business: micro, small, startup, scale-up, and international ventures.


  1. Micro Business: So, you've got this micro business, which is like the smallest of the small. When it comes to marketing strategy and getting the word out there, think about setting aside around 3-7% of what you're bringing in. That' will help you dip your toes into both marketing and public relations. Online stuff like targeted ads and engaging with your local community can be your best pals at this stage.

  2. Small Business: Now we're talking small businesses (100 employees and under)! You have more to play with here. Aim between 10-25% of your earnings to go into marketing strategy and PR. This is where you can start cooking up a solid plan with a skilled strategist and targeted PR person. Think social media, local events, and putting out content that speaks directly to your audience.

  3. Startup: Welcome to the startup world, where you're trying to make a splash in a big pond. Here, you might want to set aside roughly 10-20% of your revenue for marketing strategy and PR efforts. Your marketing guru can whip up a plan that includes everything from building internal and external strategies to digital tricks. Meanwhile, your PR whiz takes charge of handling the media and crafting that oh-so-awesome image.

  4. Scale-Up: So, your business is blowing up – in a good way! This scale-up phase demands more firepower for strategy and PR. Around 15-25% of your revenue could be your sweet spot. Your marketing maestro will be optimizing campaigns, exploring fresh ideas, and keeping your brand on point. Meanwhile, your PR hero is managing media relations, tackling any crisis, and making sure everyone loves your brand.

  5. International Immersion: Now let's go global! Taking your business international means you have to think even bigger. Consider adding an extra slice of the pie, say 5-10% of your international revenue, for adjusting your strategy and PR to different cultures. Think translations, culturally sensitive content, and making sure your brand vibes well with your new audiences from all over.


Marketing Strategist Fee: For established companies seeking specialized expertise, annual salaries or consulting fees might range from $100,000 to $250,000 or more. Smaller firms could pay $50 to $100 per hour for a freelance consultant or part-time strategist, amounting to around $25,000 to $50,000 annually for less seasoned strategists.


Public Relations Representative Fee: PR agency retainers range from $5,000 to $20,000 monthly or more, influenced by reputation, location, and services provided. In-house PR professionals might earn $50,000 to $150,000 annually, contingent on experience and company size. For startups, hiring an entry-level PR professional or freelancer could cost about $40 to $70 per hour, translating to a monthly retainer fee of $1,500 to $3,000 for limited services.


Remember, these figures are estimations and can vary. When establishing budgets for marketing strategy and PR, consider the following:


  1. Define Goals: Clearly outline all marketing objectives – whether it's enhancing new strategies, brand awareness, launching a product, crisis management, outreach, or another aim.

  2. Market Research: Investigate industry and location rates for better cost expectations.

  3. Request Quotes: Reach out to strategists or PR professionals for accurate estimates aligned with your needs.

  4. Experience Matters: Seasoned professionals may demand higher fees due to expertise.

  5. ROI and ROO Evaluation: Expenses should align with expected return on investment and objectives; measure their impact on your business.

  6. Flexibility: Be ready to adapt budgets based on evolving business needs and outcomes.


Finding the right balance between budget and expertise is vital. Skillful marketing and PR investment can significantly impact brand visibility and success.


Just as a skilled sailor strikes a harmonious balance between wind and tide, blending strategy and PR creates a marketing symphony that resonates with your audience and propels your business forward. So, set sail, small business owner, and navigate the marketing realm with strategy and PR as your steadfast navigational aids!



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