What’s the Difference between Marketing and Advertising?
“What’s the difference between marketing and advertising?” As a marketing agency, you would think that we’d receive this question quite a bit, but in all honesty, we don’t.
Many organizations and individuals talk about advertising and marketing in the same ways, with the same words, and mix them into some amalgamation of what they really are.
In actuality, marketing and advertising are different ideas. Understanding both and learning to utilize them properly can go a long way toward the success of a business.
The space between the two, however, is where things get a little murky. Ask two different account executives, two different CEOs, two different copywriters or designers in the industry, and you’re likely to get slightly different answers.
The simplest way to consider the differences between marketing and advertising is to understand advertising as one tool — a key component — to marketing. For that to make sense, however, it’s probably best to understanding marketing first.
Marketing is a general term that refers to the holistic approach that an organization takes to bring together a buyer/user and their product or service. It is a carefully considered, multipronged plan that seeks to help potential buyers or users understand the benefits and key differentiators of an organization’s goods or services in a way that drives them to make a decision.
Marketing is a number of business activities wrapped up all in one, and it extends further than you may think.
As previously mentioned, advertising is a key component of marketing, but so are public relations, media relations, media placement strategy, supply chain logistics, and operational factors ranging from how employees are treated and understand their roles as part of the organization’s larger mission to how customer service representatives answer the phone and communicate with customers.
While each of these factors is important to the success of an inventory, service, or organization at large, advertising often gets the most attention because it tends to be the largest expense and is the largest external-facing component in marketing.
Advertising is the effort to push a persuasive message out to a target market. Whereas marketing efforts help identify target markets, advertising is the channel through which these individuals are reached. It’s getting the benefits/value out about the product, service, or organization.
Advertising includes the creative — print, web, social media, television, video, out-of-home, sponsorship ads — that the public will use to identify with your goods or services. It plugs into the “media planning” strategy piece of marketing to deliver the message to the intended audience.
Where it’s easiest to see advertising as a part of overall marketing is through targeted advertising. While many large brands have a wide audience they target with brand messages, particular products and services are typically leveraged at specific groups.
For instance, Martin Communications works with a handful of regional healthcare systems. In the Harrisburg market, when we work with our clients to market a specific service line, such as breast cancer services during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we start by forming an audience profile.
Since breast cancer affects women much more frequently than men, and we have age demographics available that speak to the age ranges most often affected by breast cancer, we start to get an idea of who needs to hear the message. This is a strategic part of marketing but is not yet advertising.
Next, we look to form a media strategy by pulling together a comprehensive profile of places that the target audience would be likely to receive the message.
Through web targeting, we can deliver a message to a specifically defined audience no matter where they are on the internet, but we might also look at partnering with local news organizations who are focusing on breast cancer awareness during the month.
We also look at how we might reach individuals through means such as radio, direct mail, and video within the defined campaign time period.
Once the media plan is finalized, we push out the message through all of these channels to the audience through a highly strategic plan in the most cost-effective manner possible. That messaging, reaching the audience, is the advertising.
Of course, when we’re looking to promote cardiac services, or prostate cancer awareness, the strategy looks different.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we will target local publications like BusinessWoman that specifically target an audience we’d like to connect with.
However, for prostate cancer awareness campaigns, we’d target publications and outlets that are more focused toward men in the correct age range, as well as use a portion of the media budget to target women, who we know are “influencers” in healthcare. Therefore, the strategic aspects of marketing are what set up the likelihood for success in advertising.
While these are some high-level differences and definitions to help you wrap your head around marketing and advertising, the truth is that they are very deep and complex issues, and take time, research, and experience to fully understand.
Key partnerships with knowledgeable parties can help bridge experience gaps and identify trends in message delivery through the rapidly changing digital environment. No organization can work and be successful in a vacuum without a collection of trusted and proven service partners. BW
Barb Henderson is vice president of Martin Communications, a full-service advertising agency that works with a variety of clients in terms of size, budget, and business category. Connect with Barb on LinkedIn or at www.MartinCommunicationsInc.com