What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

Graphic of laptop with megaphone coming outward; thumbs up icons symbolizing likes float in the air.For those outside of the industry, marketing and advertising may seem like—and are often used as—interchangeable terms. While the two concepts are closely related, they aren’t the same thing. And in order for your business to be successful with either, you need to understand the distinction, as well as when and how each is put into practice effectively. So, what’s the difference between marketing and advertising? Let us explain. 

Defining Marketing and Advertising 

Marketing and advertising both stem from the same goal: to get your business, messaging, and brand in front of your ideal customers. But the key difference is that advertising is a single avenue or strategy for achieving this goal, whereas marketing is the umbrella term which encompasses this and all other strategies. In other words, advertising is just one form of marketing—as is public relations, social media, web development, events/experiential, and so on. Advertising is a slice of the pie; marketing is the whole pie. Here are more technical definitions of the two provided by the American Marketing Association (AMA): 

  • Marketing is a business practice that involves identifying, predicting, and meeting customer needs. 
  • Advertising is a business practice where a company pays to place its messaging or branding in a particular location. 

It’s probably worth pointing out that we’re not helping the confusion with our company name. Vision Advertising is a full-service marketing agency—to be clear, advertising is just one of the many marketing services we help our clients with.  

Telling the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising 

How can you differentiate between the two? Well, advertising is always going to be paid media. That is, the company or organization is paying money to place a certain message (the ad) where certain eyeballs will see it. It’s important to note that advertising is a one-way channel of communication; unlike many other types of marketing (especially public relations), when a company pays to place an ad, it has complete control over that content and how it’s promoted. 

On the other hand, since marketing covers any practice/action taken to promote the brand, some strategies can cost money (advertising being one of them), but not necessarily all of them do. In fact, lots of marketing will cost you time and expertise/skills. Learn more about these marketing resources here 

Examples of Marketing and Advertising 

Now that we’ve covered the differences, here are some common tactical examples of each. Chances are your business is already employing some of these vehicles as a means to elevate your brand, connect with customers, and drive sales! 

Examples of Advertising 

As we mentioned above, advertising is just one strategy, but it occurs across many mediums, including: 

Examples of Other Types of Marketing  

There are so many other “slices” of the marketing pie aside from advertising, and those different strategies can result in all kinds of deliverables, such as:  

At the end of the day, every business needs some sort of marketing plan to be successful—and many plans will include advertising to some degree. But each company’s approach to marketing can (and should!) look different. A local, family-owned Mexican restaurant isn’t going to market themselves in the same ways as a global pharmaceutical giant will. If you need the help of a full-service agency to determine and implement marketing strategies customized to your unique business and goals, contact Vision today. 

Vision Advertising Named Top Marketing Agency 6th Year Running<< >>How to Market Your Business Through Podcasts

About the author : Dominique Goyette-Connerty

Dominique Goyette-Connerty is a Marketing Specialist at Vision Advertising. With a background in journalism and marketing communications, she brings her strong writing skills, social media experience, and passion for public relations to the Vision team and clients. When the workday is done, you can find Dominique at the kickboxing studio, kayaking on the lake, reading, and cuddling with her two adorable kittens.

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