Are You Advertising or Marketing? Know the Difference!

Put simply, advertising is a single component of the overall marketing process—marketing includes advertising—but if you are shelling out cash for advertising alone, you may not be marketing at full potential. It’s important to know the difference and adjust your expectations as an advertiser or marketer appropriately.

Advertising is the part of the marketing mix (remember the 4 P’s?) that involves getting the message out about your product, service, app, etc. It also can include the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, etc. Advertising has historically included placement of ads in newspapers, TV, radio, on billboards or bus stops and even through direct mail. The preferred “place” to advertise these days is, of course, the internet, mainly thanks to the relatively low cost of doing so. Savvy e-commerce, subscription commerce, and mobile app companies who can quickly create and identify advertising campaigns through channels that produce sales, subscriptions, or installs for less than the revenue they earn will simply continue to pump that well until it runs dry …and the well always runs dry eventually. Advertising is “the spend” of a marketing budget and will surely help to give companies a bump in the short-run or during the early customer acquisition phase of a start-up.

Marketing, on the other hand, includes advertising, branding, promotion, market research, media planning, public relations, pricing, distribution channels, customer service, sales, and so much more. Advertising is one small chunk of a cogent marketing strategy. It takes time. It takes a lot of thought. It is food, not medicine. It is the daily discipline that gets your business where you want it and keeps it there.

Peter Drucker, a leader in the development of management education, wrote:

Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only these two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.

To recap: Advertising is an integral part of the marketing process, but not the only one. Make sure you’re eating every day. Do a little innovating when you’ve got the marketing thing dialed in.

Easy, right?

All the best,
Tony D. at

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