Advertising vs. Marketing

Jan 26, 2013

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Are They The Same?

A wise marketing millionaire and mentor of mine has said,

“I define marketing as – helping people who need each other find each other.”

However, it may have been said better by Peter Drucker who said,

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Traditional marketing theory will tell you that it is even more comprehensive than that and the differences have potentially huge impacts on businesses.

Definitions: Advertising vs. Marketing

Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message; the non-personal promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.

Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.

What’s The Difference?

Advertising Basics

Advertising is the promotion of a message.

Advertising is PART of marketing. In fact, advertising is the PROMOTION part of the marketing equation. It involves the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, reach etc. Advertising is typically one of the largest expenses of a traditional marketing plan.

Marketing Basics

Marketing is customer acquisition strategy and implementation.

It starts with research and strategy is fed by consistent lead flow and is maintained by every department in the business that successfully executes that marketing plan as outlined.

The Marketing Mix

The traditional marketing mix looks at like this:



  • What does the customer want from the product? What features does the product have?
  • What does the product look like?
  • What is the product called?
  • How is it packaged or branded?
  • How is the product different than competing products?


  • How price sensitive is the potential buyer?
  • What is the value of the product to the potential buyer?
  • Are there established price points already in this market? How does your price compare to other products?
  • What discounts could be appropriate in this market?


  • Where do buyers look for the product? If in stores, what kinds of stores?
  • What are the right distribution partners or channels?
  • What places are competitors using?
  • What unique partners could bundle this product into their offerings?


  • Where and when can you get the message out about the product?
  • What mediums should be used to get the message out?
  • How do competitors do their promotion?
  • Are their any unique avenues for promoting the message?

Marketing Mix: The NEW Model

As the internet has changed the marketing landscape and as marketing has become much more focused on the consumer, the 4Ps model for marketing has also evolved to the 4Cs. The correlations would look something like this –

New Marketing Mix


Consumer: Wants and Needs

You have to study consumer wants and needs enough to understand what type of product will fill the needs in the market. In most cases, you have to find out what people want and then build it. True innovators have been able to find out what consumers would want if it was available to them.

Costs: Good Value

Buyers want good value not necessarily cheap. They want a quality product but want to feel like they are getting a good value on it. Buyers can be segmented so that products appeal to them on different price points. If you rely on price to compete you are vulnerable and likely won’t last long term.

Convenience: Where to Buy

You have to know how each segment of your target market prefers to buy. With the growth of the Internet, sales channels are spreading like wild fire and older channels are diminishing such as catalogues and seminars. However, each method of distributing a product or service has need of evaluation.

Communication: Messaging

Be creative about how you talk and promote your message to your target audience. All advertising messages need to connect with the potential buyer on a level that they understand that the product will get them the benefit that they are looking for.

Needs: Marketing or Advertising?

The first thing you need to do is objectively assess the needs of your business. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you generating consistent and predictable lead flow?
  • Is your current marketing material consistent and cohesive?
  • Are you building and nurturing your customer database while acquiring new customers?
  • Are you tracking the results of your marketing campaigns?
  • Do marketing related concerns keep you up a night or keep you from doing what you want?
  • Does your staff or team totally understand your brand and where you are heading?
  • Is your position in the market clear to everyone and is it the position you want in the market?
  • Are your profit margins where you want them to realistically be?

How Did You Do?

Chances are, you have some work to do. You need marketing help. Most companies need marketing first. More established companies who have already implemented marketing best practices in turn hone their advertising.

If the answers to these questions don’t concern you, then you have a good handle on these fundamentals and an advertising agency may be just the thing for you. They could help you deliver consistent branding, enhance your brand messaging, and differentiate you through exceptional ads and materials. Advertising agencies are also good at coming up with clever messages in highly competitive industries and are known as “brand builders”.

This list of activities might help you realize there the differences are in terms of activities that are usually performed inside of each of these types of firms:

Ad Agencies

  • Identity Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Print Design
  • Radio and TV Media Buys
  • Signage and Outdoor Media
  • Public Relations
  • Event Planning

Marketing Firms

  • Market Research
  • Marketing Consulting
  • Strategic Messaging
  • Identity and Print Design
  • Website Development
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Conversion Optimization

So Where Are You?

Are you at the point that you need to take a hard look at your marketing? Or are you at the point where an advertising agency makes a lot of sense because you understand marketing to the point where your brand is consistent, cohesive, and is generating consistent successes for your business?

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