What Is the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?

  • August 6, 2019
  • SEO
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What Is the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?

If you’re wondering, “What is the difference between advertising and marketing,” be glad you’re asking. Marketing and advertising are often used interchangeably, but they’re not synonymous. A business needs both to succeed, but it’s important to know the difference between advertising and marketing to effectively reach, engage, and retain your customers.

Marketing is every interaction and every communication your brand has with its customers. It includes your people (anyone who has direct or indirect contact with customers), public relations, website experience, product pricing, community involvement, partnerships, communications (newsletters and other content), distribution channels, sales strategy, market research, and advertising. It’s also the behind-the-scenes work of SEO research, creating a buyer avatar, and time spent developing a strategy.

In the debate of marketing versus advertising, advertising is the act of spreading the word about your product or service through various paid channels–these could include paying someone to pass out flyers or stand on the corner in a bear costume, waving a sign; paying someone to do email marketing; paying someone to create a video commercial; paying someone to create a logo or graphics for a banner ad; paid TV, radio, or print ads; paying someone for SEO research; paying someone to do social media posts; pay for a booth at a trade event. 

A business cannot rely on advertising alone. What happens if great advertising gets them in the door, but then a company can’t deliver on customers’ expectations? This happens, not infrequently. Advertising will not win back grumpy customers. Marketing will. 

By contrast, exceptional marketing can to some extent eliminate the need for advertising. For example, when was the last time you saw an ad for an Apple product? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Apple implemented a brilliant marketing strategy that made its customers desperately want to be part of the “in” crowd of Apple users. Customers felt understood. They felt like Apple knew exactly what they wanted. The desire to belong that Apple cultivated went beyond its sleek ads. Buyers rave about the minimalist presentation of its products; the no-manual-needed approach to its user-friendly products; the Apple care program; the genius bar at the Apple store–these are all examples of how Apple created a customer experience that none of its competitors have been able to even come close to replicating. In Apple’s case, its marketing has almost done away with in-your-face advertising, aside from the infrequent new product release–and even that is usually announced via a press release rather than paid advertising.

Since most brands don’t have a cult-like following, advertising is a necessity to get people in the door–but marketing will keep them there until they push BUY NOW today and in the future. 

A carefully thought out marketing strategy is vital for any business, yet many put all of their marketing money into the advertising basket. This is where the system falls apart. 

Labor-intensive approaches such as market research may not yield immediate results; in an effort to save money, it may be tempting to focus on advertising, where results are immediately visible–but without market research (a part of marketing), the advertising could be directed at people who just don’t care. And then, it won’t matter how much money goes into that sexy ad campaign that tries to appeal to everybody and ends up generating big fat zeros. Focusing on the advertising tax deduction isn’t as lucrative in the long run as making sure all customer-facing systems are top-notch.

Consider tax implications, too. What can be claimed as an advertising tax deduction? You can’t claim the time you invest in marketing as an advertising tax deduction. Since advertising is paid, you have receipts and other proof of money spent; but paying an employee to do advertising work is not, since you’re paying for the employee’s time and not for exposure via a specific distribution channel. Paid advertising is tax-deductible; time spent marketing is not. 

Marketing elements are independent, but they must also work together so that every single word, image, video, or infographic the customer hears or sees, from every single source (ad, sales rep, YouTube, etc.) conveys the same brand message. 

Marketing must precede advertising in that marketing considers the big picture: the entire customer experience, or the emotional experience people have, that will represent your brand in their minds. A gorgeous advertising video might get them in the door, but unhelpful customer service will get the door slammed in your face. 

Advertising works and it yields the highest returns overall, but it doesn’t build relationships. Marketing builds relationships. Success does not come from having to choose. It’s not ‘marketing versus advertising’. Success comes from the strategic use of advertising with a marketing plan.

Marketing is a 24/7 approach that, in the Internet age, cannot sleep. Out of sight is out of mind. Marketing can be overwhelming, yes, so begin with developing a cohesive message that you can then pick and choose to deliver through various channels–including advertising.

Please contract us if you like any help with your marketing and/ or advertising. 🙂

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