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Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference?

If we were to poll 100 people on the street and ask them what marketing is, we’d likely get 50 different answers. Traditional answers include television commercials, newspaper or magazine ads, billboards and so on. But with the widespread use of the internet and rise of digital technologies, marketing has evolved even in the last 20 years.

What Is Marketing?

According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” As you can imagine, the concept of marketing covers a lot of ground. And even marketing professionals are unsure of how many ways marketing can be broken down. Depending on the source referenced, there are 40-50 more types of marketing strategies.

The top strategies are:

  • Viral – leans on customers to promote a product, usually by word of mouth or email
  • Mass – all consumers are targeted for a product, instead of segments
  • Direct – products and services are sold directly to the public, such as by mail order or over the telephone
  • Inbound – uses content, social media, and search engine optimization to draw consumers to products and services
  • Outbound – consumers are reached through traditional media advertising and in-person contact
  • Seasonal – uses events and national or global holidays to build a campaign for products or services around
  • Online/Digital – a catch-all for marketing done using the internet, mobile phones, display ads, and any other digital outlet
  • Email – any email can fall under the guise of email marketing if its end result is to help build brand recognition, trust in a product or brand, and customer loyalty
  • Search – uses paid and unpaid search engine optimization tactics to gain traffic and visibility to a website
  • Social Media – using social media platforms and networks to increase traffic and visibility of a brand, product, service, or website
  • B2B – marketing products or services of one business to another for use in the other business’s operations
  • B2C – uses emotion in promotion of products and services to consumers
  • Telemarketing – uses unsolicited telephone calls to consumers for products or services

All the forms of marketing leads us to one question – when did we start seeing marketing in our lives?

For United States residents, it emerged in 1741 when the first magazine was published in Philadelphia. This was 301 years after German Johannes Gutenberg created the moveable type press which made mass printing possible.

Marketing as we know it developed during the Industrial Revolution. Back then, producers could sell as much as they could produce, barring consumers could afford their products. After World War II, marketing shifted toward selling as competition and consumer spending grew. It was through that shift that brands and a brand advertisement came to the forefront of consumers’ minds. (Mad Men, anyone?) Products and services began to have emotional value and attachment to them, giving consumers more power in decision making.

What Is Advertising?

Advertising describes or draws attention to a product, service, or event to promote sales or attendance. A persuasive selling message is generally attached to the promotion. The goal is to attract new customers while reminding current customers what makes your brand stand out among the competition. Like marketing, advertising splits into several sub-strategies:

  • Online/digital – use of the internet to bring promotional ads to consumers
  • Mobile – use of banner ads or text message ads to consumers using mobile devices
  • Print – ads shown in magazines, newspapers, and other printed mediums to promote products or services
  • Guerrilla – using energy and creativity, businesses use little budget and unconventional ways to promote a product or service to consumers
  • Broadcast – also called ‘on-air advertising’ and found on television or radio
  • Outdoor – any advertisement that reaches a consumer when they are in public, such as billboards, public benches, signage on public transportation
  • Public service – aims to raise awareness, change public attitudes or behavior toward a social issue
  • Product placement – goods or services placed in a movie or TV show paid for by the manufacturer

So What’s the Difference?

The difference lies in what they intend to accomplish. For advertising, it’s about bringing a brand to consumers and offering solicitations to further push the brand. There’s little educational value to advertising’s approach. Getting the sale is the end all while constantly pushing a product or service to new consumers. If the ad is effective, it will remind current customers what makes your business great.

But in marketing, specifically the newcomer content marketing, it’s all about providing value. In this case, the value can take many forms. For example, your company offers a service that will streamline your customer’s weekend projects. Perhaps you have a video that highlights and discusses how the service works for a family juggling kids, pets, and activities. Or you have a series of products aimed to enhance some aspect of another customer’s work day.

The value of marketing aims to inform and educate consumers. It’s something all marketers have been racing to catch up to as consumers now have equal amounts of information at their fingertips. Yes, there is a cost involved in informing and educating consumers. But the return-on-investment is a band of loyal customers who become brand evangelicals for your company, drumming up more customers and sales.

But Can They Work Together?

Absolutely. In fact, advertising is a part of marketing as a whole. When advertising gets the word out to consumers about your product, service, business, or brand, it’s supporting marketing. Advertising is usually the largest expense of most marketing plans. It’s easy to understand when you consider all the mediums used – internet, television, radio, print, and so on. To get the most impact, you need to be advertising across many channels and often.

But consider this stat about advertising. A study done in early 2016 by PageFair and Adobe found nearly 200 million monthly active users of ad-blocking software around the globe. Business Insider broke the study down even further. People using ad blocking on mobile devices is quickly reaching that of desktop levels. If it continues, digital media companies in the United States could lose upwards of $9.7 billion in 2017.

If so many consumers around the globe are moving to ad blockers, how can marketing step up and fill the void? Social media is a good place to start, along with search engine optimization for a website. Having a healthy online citations presence and reviews from customers through those citations will still get your business and brand in front of consumers, even though they’ve blocked your banner ads.

I’m Considering Hiring a Marketing Firm, but What Can a Creative Agency Do for Me?

Marketing firms work with you to determine your target audience and ideal customer. This is done through creating and using buyer personas. A firm also knows how to attract and retain customers while generating leads to expand your customer pool. Using a marketing firm will benefit any business in the short and long term.

Creative or advertising agencies plan campaigns that will run for a finite amount of time. Through the creative abilities of art directors, graphic designers, and copywriters, ads are created for campaigns. Most creative agencies today can handle overall marketing, branding, and promotions. Yet, some are niche agencies and not a fit for everyone.

What Can Each Do for My Company?

Ultimately it’ll come down to what your end goal is. Is it an ongoing strategy that is built upon and expanded or retracted at any time? Or is it promotion of a brand, product, or service along with the end result of gaining new customers? For either strategy, Elevare can consult, create and implement these plans with our Inbound Marketing services, helping you to be successful in your goals each month, quarter, and year!

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