Marketing Verses Advertising Which is Which?

16.12.19 05:29 PM Comment(s)

While the original of this post is probably about ten years old, the importance of understanding the difference between marketing and advertising and for that matter marketing and sales is critical to success.  I have added a brief description of the differences between marketing and sales as well.

Recently a client was excitedly talking about a Social Media Marketing book. They suggested that we follow the information in the book to market their new product. Even though I was skeptical I figured that if this was what the client wanted I had better read the book. I was on the first page when I discovered the first problem. The author clearly did not know the difference between marketing and advertising.

In describing marketing before the internet age they declared that there were three primary ways to market – print, tv and radio. Unfortunately, the author’s definition of marketing is really a description of three advertising channels that were available in the pre-internet era. It is not a description of marketing. This got me thinking about how many other people confuse marketing and advertising. I decided that it is time for some basic definitions.

Marketing is the definition of Product, Place, Price and Promotion, commonly called the 4 Ps. In other words, you first define your product. What it is. What benefit it provides. Who might be interested in it, and who you are going to target it to. 

With your product defined it is time to determine what the price should be. 

Then place is decided. Where and through which channels of distribution, will you sell your product. 

Lastly, you determine your promotion.

It is during the process of determining your promotion that you will also define your general advertising campaign. Where is your target audience reachable, on traditional offline channels such as TV, radio, print, (print being newspapers, and magazines) and billboards and additional methods such as direct mail and promotional products, and where they can be found online. The online options include social media, banner ads on websites, pay-per-click, targeted forums and more.

Advertising, on the other hand is the conveyance of the Promotion message defined in the marketing process. Print, TV and Radio, are still three possible channels for delivering that advertising message, but they are not three ways to market.

Without being clear on the distinction between the two functions of marketing and advertising it is highly probable that the wrong message is being delivered to the wrong people at the wrong time and that the wrong channels are being used.

Once you are clear on your 4 P’s you will greatly increase the success of any advertising effort.

Now let's look at the differences between marketing and sales.  Many people make the distinction by saying that marketing talks to many and sales is one-on-one conversations.  While that can be true it is not the full distinction.  A more important distinction is that marketing should serve the organizational function where they clearly state the solution that the company product or service delivers and they incorporate that information into materials that can be shared with the buying public through the many promotional channels as described above.  Sales on the other hand should be looking at each potential buyer and honing in on the specific value that the solution provides that will be of greatest benefit to the potential buyer.  One more important distinction - marketing provides infromation. Sales asks people directly to buy, sign on the dotted line etc. The final difference between marketing and sales, a conversation versus a broadcast.  Marketing broadcasts their information while sales should be picking up the phone and having conversations.  They can also have conversations in a variety of other places such as online, trade shows and conferences and networking events.

By understanding the differences, each department can function more smoothly and collaborate better.