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Marketing vs Advertising

Marketing vs. Advertising

Marketing is a business practice that involves identifying, predicting and meeting customer needs. Advertising is a business practice where a company pays to place its messaging or branding in a particular location.


Discover the differences between marketing and advertising and how each relates to modern business

As technology continues to evolve and grow in importance, modern businesses employ diverse marketing and advertising strategies to reach potential customers and close sales. Stretching from traditional media to digital marketing online and in social media, marketing and advertising seem to be everywhere. Part of this reality is due to the effectiveness of marketing and advertising strategies in driving success for companies of every shape and size. 

While sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually many differences between marketing and advertising. In basic terms, marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels. In other words, advertising is a component of marketing. But the differences do not end there. 

What Is Marketing and Why Is It Important?

Marketing is a business practice that involves identifying, predicting and meeting customer needs. Effective marketing strategies help businesses isolate how best to serve their client base, while maximizing revenue at the same time. In business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, marketing efforts are directed toward consumers. In business-to-business (B2B) marketing, marketing efforts are directed toward other businesses.

In both B2C and B2B efforts, there are several important factors to consider when developing a marketing strategy. More specifically, savvy marketers will evaluate:

  • Orientation — Marketing orientation refers to the guiding principles of the business itself, often referred to as business philosophy or corporate culture. Typically, organizations will decide to orient around product, sales, production or marketing. 
  • Mix — The marketing mix functions as a decision-making guide for a company’s marketing efforts. A modern marketing mix will usually focus on the four Cs: client/customer, cost, convenience and communication. 
  • Environment — The marketing environment refers to every factor that could impact a company in the execution of marketing strategy or decision-making. In this vein, companies should consider the internal environment within their organization. External factors—such as macro and micro environments—are also important to consider. 
  • Market — The target market refers to the characteristics of a company’s ideal client case. Research and segmentation efforts can help isolate the geographic and demographic factors that will help a company market and sell its products or services.

After a careful evaluation of the orientation, mix, environment and market, it is possible to assess the costs and benefits of various marketing methods and strategies. This part of the planning process is vitally important, as there are many different ways a business can engage in marketing efforts.

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What Are Several Common Types of Marketing?

Traditionally, marketing efforts relied upon four different channels to connect with customers: print, mail, TV and telephone. Businesses could engage any or all of these four channels to deliver corporate messaging and enhance branding efforts. Throughout the 20th century, the dominant marketing approach revolved around print and broadcast media combined with effective messaging and advertising.

As the world turned to the 21st century, however, marketing strategies have evolved to account for the rise of the internet and e-commerce. With the transition to life and commerce online, digital marketing transformed the way business communication works with their clients. New messaging platforms, such as social media, enable a two-way communication between business and client. From a marketing standpoint, specifically, modern technology has made it much easier to gather information on customer behaviors, needs, wants, etc. 

Today, several common types of marketing include:

  • Digital Marketing — Digital marketing refers to application of marketing strategies to electronic communication devices, such as computers or smartphones. Digital marketing strategies often leverage search engines, email, websites, blogs and other techniques to reach customers.
  • Social Media Marketing — A subset of digital marketing, social media marketing uses social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to reach potential clients. This style of marketing allows companies to take advantage of earned media from individuals outside of their organization. An evolving part of social media marketing is influencer marketing, where popular users are compensated for promoting a company’s products or services. 
  • Global Marketing — Between globalization and the internet, some of the world’s largest companies have developed global brands. Accordingly, global marketing enables these companies to employ a unified strategy to reach customers at the local, regional, national and international levels at the same time. 
  • Relationship Marketing — Relationship marketing eschews invasive strategies such as commercials or ads and relies on customer happiness instead. Relying on strategies that help retain and satisfy customers, relationship marketing strives to establish a long-time and loyal client base. 
  • Brand Management — Brand management attempts to create a bond between customer and a particular company’s brand. To do so, it is necessary to evaluate a company’s products or services as well as logo, design, packaging and other elements. Brand management also assesses aspects of the target market, direct competition and existing customer relationships. 
  • Product Development — Product development is the process of transforming a business opportunity into a sellable product or service. Development can occur with existing products or new products. Successful product development involves many marketing concepts, including identification of client needs as well as market research and analysis. 

Even though it is not yet as common as the methods above, it is important to mention societal marketing in this conversation. Also referred to as sustainable or green marketing, societal marketing goes beyond the traditional boundaries of identifying, predicting and meeting customer needs. 

Societal marketing incorporates the greater needs of society and the world into a company’s culture, brand and operations. To track and measure progress, triple bottom line reporting is common for societally focused businesses. These include social and environmental impact alongside financial performance. 

What Is Advertising and Why Is It Important?

Advertising is a business practice where a company pays to place its messaging or branding in a particular location. Businesses leverage advertising to promote their products and services for sale as well as establish corporate culture and branding. When employed properly and strategically, advertising can drive customer acquisition and boost sales. 

Advertising establishes a one-way channel of communication, where companies can broadcast non-personal messaging to a general audience. Unlike other types of marketing or even public relations, companies have total control over advertising. When a company pays to place an ad, it has complete control over how the content involved is promoted. 

There are countless benefits to a successful advertising campaign. In common practice, businesses can leverage advertising to:

  • Educate customers on the nature of products or services
  • Convince customers that products or services are superior
  • Improve customer perception of brand or culture
  • Generate customer need or want for products or services
  • Exhibit new applications for products or services
  • Publicize new products or services to potential customers
  • Attract new customers to purchase products or services
  • Retain the existing customer base 
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Taken as a whole, companies that dedicate resources to advertising can reap many valuable benefits. In order to achieve those benefits, many businesses engage in one, or several, of the common types of advertising explained below. 

What Are Several Common Types of Advertising?

As with marketing, advertising has evolved significantly in the 21st century. The digital age has opened new advertising avenues for companies to take advantage of, from search engines to social media and websites of all shapes and sizes. In this new reality, businesses can achieve advertising goals and reach potential customers just about anywhere, particularly with the prevalence of smartphones.

Within the realm of common advertising techniques, many businesses prioritize any or all of the following methods:

  • Traditional Advertising — This term refers to ad placement in traditional print and broadcast media. Common examples of traditional advertising include newspaper ads, TV commercials and radio infomercials. 
  • Retail Advertising — This terms refers to ad and placement within retail stores to maximize sales. Common examples of retail advertising include product placement within stores, ads on shopping carts and featured product displays. 
  • Online Advertising — This term refers to ad placement on the internet in media and other websites. Common examples of online advertising include contextual ads in search engines, banners on websites, promotional videos and sponsored content. 
  • Mobile Advertising — This term refers to ad placement on mobile phones and smartphones. Common examples of mobile advertising include automated dialers, banners to download apps and click-to-call ads. 
  • Outdoor Advertising — This term refers to ad placement on outside structures, generally in heavily trafficked areas to attract the most attention. Common examples of outdoor advertising include billboards, banners on the outside of buildings and branded vehicles. 
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising — This term refers to online ad placement designed to drive traffic to a company’s website. Companies derive extensive customer data from these ads, only paying when users click on the link.

What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

The main difference between these two business practices is that advertising is a part of marketing. A successful marketing strategy typically dedicates resources to advertising at multiple levels, placing corporate marketing communications in various types of media. 

To dig a little deeper into this question, it be helpful to review the differences between paid, owned and earned media:

  • Paid Media — This type of media involves a company paying a publisher to place marketing communications. Examples of paid media include billboards, broadcast and print ads, search engine ads, social media ads and direct mail or email. 
  • Owned Media — This type of media involves a company using its own channels to place marketing communications. Examples of owned media include retail merchandising, websites and business blogs, brochures, corporate social accounts and press releases. 
  • Earned Media — This type of media involves external communications about a company from third-party actors. Examples of earned media include online reviews, newspaper or magazine articles, social media endorsements, customer demonstrations and types of external publicity. 

As indicated above, advertising is typically limited to the domain of paid media. That is inherent in the nature of advertising as a business practice—placement of messaging or branding in exchange for compensation. Stated otherwise, when businesses advertise, there is typically a price tag attached.

On the other hand, effective marketing strategies can have an impact on paid, owned, and earned media. By successfully identifying customer wants and needs—and evaluating the best way to meet them—marketing controls how a company advertises in paid media. Marketing also dictates how a company communicates through owned media, not to mention how it interacts with others through earned media. 

Is Marketing or Advertising More Valuable?

Many successful businesses incorporate multifaceted advertising strategies into their overall marketing plan. This is particularly true for global companies, where marketing strategy and advertising placement must take into account customers across the world. Though it also applies to small and medium businesses, especially with the affordability of digital advertising through search engines and social media. 

That being said, there is a situation where marketing is likely more valuable than advertising. In the case of startup companies and other new enterprises, the priority should be developing a marketing plan. If these organizations spend too much on advertising at the onset—without an established or sustainable marketing plan—it can be a disaster.

At the onset of corporate existence, it is paramount to define and execute a marketing plan by identifying customer wants and needs. That way, any future marketing or advertising efforts will have a defined approach and a better chance of success.