The principle of writing a compare and contrast essay is fairly simple – you are expected to analyze two or more things (ideas, theories, concepts) and point out what they have in common and how they are different. When related to marketing, it usually means that you have to write about different marketing approaches, principles of running promotional campaigns, methods of launching new products and so on.
While it may sound simple on paper, when you deal with a discipline like marketing (i.e., one heavily reliant on practical aspects), it may take a while before you learn how to properly formulate your thoughts and prove your point. It may not be enough to consult the textbooks – the use of real-world case studies and reports is highly recommended.
Fortunately, you do not have to acquire all this experience on your own. The guide you are currently reading will be more than enough to get you started and write your first compare and contrast essay in marketing – by the time you finish you will understand it well enough to move further on your own.
The first step to writing a high-quality compare and contrast essay in marketing is, of course, the right choice of the subject matter. However, in this case it may not be as hard as it is with many other types of academic papers, because when you choose the subject matter for such an essay you just have to pick the items you are going to compare. If you have any knowledge of the discipline, you should not have trouble finding something that would be interesting to juxtapose. However, you should follow a few principles:
Now that you have a basic idea of what you will compare, you can further develop it and decide what supporting arguments you can use. Do some brainstorming – the easiest way to do it is to simply write down all the important characteristics of the items under comparison and make short notes about each of them, how they are similar or different as related to this or that factor. If you are a visual learner, you may try using Venn diagrams – they will help you visualize the relationships between the items you compare and decide what points you should focus on.
An essay is a relatively small assignment, which means that you will not be able to run a comprehensive comparative analysis of the items you study – and it is not your purpose anyway. The goal of writing a compare and contrast essay is to a significant degree to test and develop your ability to single out the most important factors and study them. This means that you do not have to list all the ways in which the things you study are similar and different. Consider which factors will be more important to drive your point home, estimate how much space you will need to cover each of them and select a few that will be the most instrumental in proving your viewpoint.
The thesis is the main idea of your essay, and thesis statement is a single sentence expressing it in the most condensed form. You will have to include it at the end of your introduction, but it is best to write it beforehand, because it is a pivotal point of your entire essay. Remember that a thesis statement should be:
The overall structure of a compare and contrast essay is the same as that of any other academic paper:
It is the structure of the main part that makes this type of essay writing special. In compare and contrast papers, the body paragraphs can be arranged in three general patterns:
If you have more than two items to compare or if the number of points across which you compare them is relatively small, item-by-item approach is often the optimal one. When you use it, you discuss all the points and characteristics of item A, then move on to item B and so forth.
The advantage of this approach is that you describe each item in its entirety without hopping back and forth, which is useful when you have many items to cover. However, here lie the problems as well. If you go into detail, you cannot move on to comparison until much later in the essay. As a result, your writing starts looking as a list of individual descriptions rather than a comparative analysis. This problem can be alleviated if you choose one item to use as a “lens” to analyze the other (or the others).
With this approach, you single out the most important aspects and discuss them one by one, comparing the items you analyze as related to each of these aspects. For example, if you compare two different approaches to social media marketing, you can start with their respective prices, move on to conversion rates, efficiency on different stages of the customer funnel and conclude with evaluating their ROI.
Naturally, this method is more suitable for detailed analysis across multiple points, as it makes your writing easier both to organize and to follow.
Parallels and Contrasts
When using this approach, you first discuss everything the items have in common, and then move on to describe all their differences. This approach is best used when you compare items that are very similar at a first glance. By dealing with similarities first, you put an emphasis on the contrasts and make it easier to understand why the items under scrutiny have to be treated differently.
An outline is a detailed plan of your essay, listing all the sections and what you have to write in each of them. We have discussed the structure above – now you have to deal with specifics: how you hook the reader’s attention, how much background you have to provide in the introduction, which points you choose to discuss in the body paragraphs and so on.
An outline can be as detailed as you want it to be – as long as it fits your writing style, it is okay. You can write down a couple of words for each section, give a detailed plan for each paragraph or do anything in between.
A well-written essay may look freeform, but in fact, skilled writers almost always stick to certain tried and true structures. It is after using them for a long time that they learn how to do it in a less formulaic and more natural way.
The typical structure of a body paragraph goes as follows:
Unless it is your goal to analyze one item through the prism of another, pay equal attention to all the items under scrutiny. It is especially important if you compare more than two items, as it becomes progressively difficult to estimate how much words you will need to discuss each point. As a result, one can write about a single point at length, only to discover that the word limit is almost reached and there are five more points to cover. Therefore, you should decide how much time you will spend on each point and set individual word limits for each of them.
Especially if this is an important essay. Reread it several times, preferably after taking a break of at least 24 hours after writing the last word. Each time you reread it, focus on a particular aspect: first on faulty logic, then on connections between individual sections, then on grammar and so on. When you look for something specific, you are more likely to find it.
Everybody has a few characteristic mistakes one repeats over and over again. If you know yourself to be prone to particular errors, make a list and pay attention to them as you reread your essay.
To proofread does not mean just to run your eyes over the text. You should read it more carefully than you normally do. Even if you are tired of your essay and want to move on to other things, make an effort to slow down to about 25 percent of your normal reading speed and pay attention to every word. When you read at normal speed, you stop your eyes only about 3 or 4 times per line (or rarer – it depends on how fast a reader you are). You unconsciously predict the words between these points, and even more so if it is you who wrote the text in the first place. Break this pattern and force yourself to see what is really written.
Proofreading tools like Grammarly often offer greater functionality than Microsoft Word’s spellchecker, so using a couple of them to check your essay may be worth it. However, do not rely on them too much – human language is still too complex a thing for such software to analyze efficiently. As a result, they often both return false positives (seeing flaws where there are none) and fail to see blatant mistakes.
A second opinion is just as important in academic writing as it is in medicine. You are too used to your essay to see it objectively. So find somebody whose English is good enough to read your essay for you and ask him/her to point out all the flaws and mistakes, both in your grammar and in your logic.
Writing a compare and contrast essay in marketing is, of course, not easy. However, if you follow this guide you will soon discover that it is much less of an intimidating a task than you may have believed. Use it, and we are sure you will be able to successfully deal with any assignment of this type!