When 2 Become 1, But Really Shouldn’t: The Important Difference Between Marketing & Advertising

For many, the terms ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’ are used interchangeably and there is much confusion around exactly what it is that differentiates the two. But is it really that important to know the difference? And is there any real contrast? 

Well, let’s kick things off by defining the terms so you can get to grips with exactly what they are. In the words of Alexander Chernev: “The goal of marketing is to create a product that sells, not to sell a product.” Typically, when defining marketing, we will refer to the marketing mix, which includes market research, audience analysis, market segmentation, pricing, branding, and promotion. 

Advertising, on the other hand, is just a small part of the ‘promotion’ aspect of marketing, meaning it’s essentially just one (tiny) slice of the marketing pie. So, whilst the two have the same goal (i.e. to promote your business to your target audience), marketing goes far beyond simply promotion and sales. 

To help create a clearer distinction between the two, let’s explore some of the different types of marketing and advertising. Firstly, there are dozens of different types of marketing – we would be here all day if we listed them all – most of which overlap in some form. A few of the more well-known types include:

  • Traditional marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Outbound marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Video marketing

And advertising? As the name suggests, advertising is centred around ads, each of which has different benefits, costs and audiences. Some of the most common types of advertising include:

In essence, advertising is simply a component of marketing, and while it is important, if that’s all you are focused on, you will be missing out on a lot of opportunities to build relationships, drive sales and really bring your business to the next level. It’s also important to note that whilst advertising is (almost) always paid for, there are several aspects of marketing that can be accessed for free, making it more accessible for smaller businesses and startups. 

So, if advertising alone is what constitutes your current idea of marketing, it’s worth doing some research and reviewing your strategy. In need of a helping hand? Contact us for a free consultation with one of our marketing experts.


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