Marketing vs Advertising: Is there a difference?

If you’re one of those people who think that marketing and advertising are interchangeable terms or that one excludes the other – you’re not alone. However, you’re also not right. Even some beginner marketers get confused when speaking about the two terms and use them as synonyms. While they are heavily related and go hand in hand, marketing and advertising are two separate notions.

To be able to successfully use both advertising and marketing to promote your business or brand, you need to understand the difference between the two. Below, we’ll explain what each of the terms implies and why they’re important for marketers and business owners.

Marketing vs. Advertising

To provide a detailed explanation of both marketing and advertising, we’ll compare the two notions in different aspects. This will help you get the whole picture and answer the question of whether or not there’s a difference between the two.

–          Definition

Let’s begin the comparison by defining marketing and advertising. We’ve found and combined different definitions and created the most straightforward ones for you.

Marketing is:

  • a business practice used to understand the needs of your customers and find the best way to sell your product or offer your service. It includes identifying the best ways to present a product, the best markets, the suitable prices, and the best promotion methods.

As you can see, marketing is a broad term used to describe all the processes and activities happening to define the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

Advertising is:

  • one (key) component of marketing and implies using paid media to tell your target audience about a product or service you’re offering, why they need it, and how it can help them.

So, advertising is a narrower term and is one of the steps in conducting a successful marketing strategy. Knowing that ads can increase brand awareness by 80% we can freely say that it is crucial for great marketing.

–          Goal

The definitions clearly indicate that there’s a difference between advertising and marketing in terms of the practices that are implied with both terms. But, when it comes to goals that are what we want to achieve with these two sets of practices, there is virtually no difference.

The goals that both marketing and advertising share are:

  • build brand awareness
  • promote a product or a service
  • help a business make more sales
  • increase revenue

In both cases, our goal is to get the attention of a specific group of people and let them know about our offer. In this sense, there’s no difference between marketing and advertising.

–          Role in the Promotion Process

While the definitions and goals helped us wrap our heads around marketing and advertising as two different things, we still need to understand how things function in real life.

What are the roles of these two in the overall process of promoting a product? Below, we’ll break this process down and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Everything starts with a marketing strategy. Creating a marketing strategy means defining all the details that are necessary for taking the right steps later in advertising. In practice, the key steps in creating a marketing strategy are:

  • creating the brand image (personality, style, tone)
  • defining the target audience
  • defining the brand messaging
  • defining brand positioning (value of the brand)

This means that the role of marketing is to do all the research and gather data that will help choose the best path for reaching out to customers. Then, advertising steps in to do the actually paid promotion, the way marketing is defined as the best strategy.

So, the steps we take while doing advertising are:

  • finding the best channels to promote a product or service
  • deciding on the right combination of those channels
  • communicating the message about a specific product

The channels you’ll most commonly use in advertising include social media, paid ads, search engines, podcasts, TV, print, and more. This is where content writers, copywriters, graphic designers, art directors, and other advertising experts step in.

Some companies have these experts working internally. Others prefer to outsource. Topwritersreview is a great resource for finding professional writers to outsource your content writing.

Why Are Marketing & Advertising Closely Tied

Now that we’ve learned that marketing and advertising should not be used interchangeably and that each stands for one set of practices and strategies, we still have one question to answer.

  • Why are marketing and advertising so closely tied?

Or, simply put, why can’t they go one without the other?

Let’s first imagine marketing without advertising.

We would have all the right information about our product and customers. We’d understand the market and know where to place our product. But we would lack the specific steps to use this information to our benefit. All our efforts would be in vain, and we would end up where we started – without any new customers, sales, or connections.

The same goes if we imagine advertising without marketing.

We have all the right tools, methods, channels, and platforms to promote our product and try to reach more people. What we don’t have is any idea of where to start, what these people want from us, or which channels would work the best.

It’s like shooting in the dark in both cases.

Therefore, marketing and advertising work with and for each other, complementing one another and bridging the gaps that would otherwise remain fully open.

Final Thoughts

Marketing and advertising should not be observed as the same, nor should they be considered completely different. As we’ve explained above, there are certain important links between the two. We can freely say that one doesn’t go without the other. At least not successfully.

So, to answer our initial question of whether there’s a difference between the two- yes, there is. But, regardless of the differences, they’re still closely tied to one another.

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