Marketing is a process - it's the way in which you identify and satisfy the requirements of your customer - by taking a product or service from the concept stage, to the purchase stage. Marketing is about promoting your products and services, generating 'leads' (identifying potential customers to focus your marketing efforts on), nurturing those leads (providing follow up information and communications to keep those potential customers interested), and hopefully converting those leads to a sale. It is about gaining new customers, retaining existing customers, and ensuring the products and services you provide meet the needs of those customers - with the ultimate goal of increasing income.
Check out econsultancy, the CIM or the IDM for useful marketing resources.
What is public relations?
PR is about reputation. Your reputation is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. PR activity is a way of managing that reputation - by publishing press releases, generating media interest and mitigating negative stories, you're telling people the positive facts about your brand, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. Many people consider PR to be part of the marketing and communications toolkit, rather than a standalone discipline.
The CIPR and Cision offer some useful resources to support your public relations activity.
What is advertising?
Advertising is a sales tool - it's a way of creatively communicating with your customers to raise awareness of your brand and, hopefully, get them to buy. Advertising is expensive, but can have exceptional results - brilliant advertising speaks to a customer's emotions and is talked about for years to come. Everyone remembers the Cadbury's gorilla (released in 2007 - so eight years ago) and the Renault Clio va-va-voom advert (released in 2001 - almost 15 years ago) and the Milkybar kid, who has been around since 1961!
Visit The Drum or Adweek for news from the advertising world.
What is sales?
Sales and marketing often come in the same sentence - because they work hand in hand. Once a product has been launched, promoted, leads have been generated and nurtured - it's up to the sales department to actually get the money through the door. Sales is about building relationships with customers, negotiating prices and focusing on the here and now. But there is no point employing a sales person if you haven't got the marketing right first - people need to know about your brand and your products before they will buy them.
Inc.com has some interesting articles about sales.
If you're not sure where to start with promoting your business, get in touch.