The Difference Between Advertising and Marketing

Advertising, and marketing; two terms that are somehow interchangeable for most people outside of the two industries (and sadly, inside as well).

It’s easy to understand why people who don’t work in these fields confuse the two terms. TVs and movies often use the two to mean the same thing. “I’m in marketing,” says the advertising executive. Or, “I’m in advertising,” announces the marketing manager.

There are specific differences that make the two disciplines different from each other, and similarities that lead to the confusion. Let’s take a look at them.

What Is Advertising?
Look in any online dictionary and you’ll get a variation of the same definition:

Advertising is “the act or practice of calling public attention to a product or service, usually by paid announcement in newspapers and magazines, and via the Internet, radio, TV, cinema, billboards, bus shelters, and guerrilla placements.”

In short, it’s a memorable announcement about the client’s product or service.

What Is Marketing?
Now, the definition for advertising sounds very similar. But, it’s definitely not advertising. Here’s what most online sources will tell you:

Marketing is “the process by which a company acquires and maintains a relationship with new and existing customer, including strategy, market research, media planning, public relations, advertising, product testing and pricing, packaging, distribution, customer support, sales, and any other method that bring a product or service to market.”

See the difference? Marketing is the whole ball of wax, and advertising is just once component in that process. If marketing is a pizza, advertising is a large slice of it.

But How Do Marketing And Advertising Work Together?
It’s easy enough to throw a bunch of definitions at you and call it a day, but let’s take it further and look at a typical product that has to go through the marketing and advertising process.

First, you have to really analyze your product. Who is it made for? Where will it be sold? How do the demographics break down? This is the research phase of marketing, and at this point advertising is not in the mix yet. It is certainly being considered, as it will be implemented shortly. But before that can happen, there will be focus groups, packaging concepts (which sometimes come from advertising agencies too), initial media buy ideas, and if applicable, a pitch document that will be given to different ad agencies before the actual ad campaign development can begin.

Once that is completed, advertising is introduced. The ad agency of record, or the one who won the pitch, will begin working hand in hand with the client (and marketing agency, if it has been outsourced) to develop an advertising campaign. This could stretch far and wide, covering everything from emails and coupons to billboards, cinema ads and large stunts.

If there are stunts involved, PR will be brought into the development of the campaign at the same time. Press releases will need to go out, informing news stations, bloggers and other media outlets about the upcoming event. PR can also work independently to help generate buzz. Both the ad agency and PR experts will be working from the same strategic platform, so everything should align beautifully is there is ample communication.

The sales department is next to the scene. If the ad campaign is effective, the sales or response (if it’s purely an awareness campaign) should start to soar. This is another opportunity for PR to stir the pot, and create even more buzz.

And then you have customer service and retention. Once you’ve got customers, you have to keep them happy. You’ll need to develop campaigns that speak only to current customers, and ensure everything possible has been done to make them feel appreciated and come back again and again.

As you can see, both advertising and marketing have rolls in the selling of a product or service. Neither can exist without each other, but marketing encompasses so much more.