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January 31st, 2017

Marketing vs. Advertising: How to Tell the Difference

When talking about agency work, it can be tricky, sometimes, to discern the differences between what is marketing, and what is advertising. It’s actually all about audience and intention. When you know how your material is operating in that sphere, you can easily tell what’s marketing, and what’s advertising.

Marketing is a Plan

Marketing is systematic and planned. It’s controlling a mix of various business activities which are intended to bring together both buyers and sellers. Marketing can often be divided by who that audience is, whether it’s a business marketing materials to another business (known as B2B) or a business marketing to the consumer (known as B2C marketing).

Advertising is a Tool

Advertising is paid, public announcements of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor, like a business or group. These might be what you read in the newspaper or hear on the radio, or it might be subtle ads on the side of your favorite websites, or even flying behind a plane in the sky. You buy an ad from someone like a newspaper website, so you can control the space and put whatever information you want to convey there. The goal of advertising is almost always to sell you something: whether it’s a physical product (“Buy our widgets!”) or participation (“Come to the big dance!”) or brand loyalty (“Our brand makes you feel good!”).

Advertising is a Part of the Marketing Process

That’s right! Advertising is one component of what makes up the marketing process. Advertising includes placing of ads (get it?) in various mediums, whether its print like newspapers and magazines or billboards, or digital like website banners, emails, or even pop-ups. Marketing, however, is bigger than just placing ads. It’s strategic, and might include many behind-the-scenes attributes like developing market research, media planning, data analysis, and sales strategies.

While marketing is a broad campaign, aimed at a target (audience), advertising is just one of those tools used to reach that audience. Advertising is the shout, and marketing is planning what you’re going to say (and listening to what happens afterwards). We’re here to help you shout (and listen), every step of the way!


(Photo by Fuzzysaurus/Flickr)