While many people believe the terms to be synonymous, there is actually a very real difference between marketing and advertising. To borrow a familiar metaphor, marketing is the forest. Advertising is one of the trees that make up that forest.
What is Marketing?
Much like a metaphorical forest is made up of several different species of trees and plants, marketing incorporates a variety of tactics. Its primary objective is to identify and connect with the audience that is the most likely to be convinced that it needs or desires a business’ product or service. Marketing includes all the things that a company does to lure customers to its door and sustain a positive rapport with them, explains Investopedia. Advertising is a major part of any good marketing strategy. But, marketing begins long before any advertising is created. It starts with identifying the prospective customer through market research. Pricing strategy, packaging design, distribution chain analysis, sales strategy, shelf placement and signage are all carefully calculated to appeal to the chosen audience. Advertising works with promotion and media planning to draw prospective customers’ attention to the product. Customer service, product support and customer appreciation efforts are intended to establish and cement the bond between a business and its customers.
What is Advertising?
The most visible tree in marketing’s metaphorical forest, advertising is a paid announcement intended to attract the attention of potential customers to a business’ product or service. Its goal is to position the product positively in the public’s mind, encouraging them to make a purchase. An advertising campaign is advertising done within a specific period of time. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a sound advertising campaign begins with an evaluation of a product’s current market share and reputation, the identification of the customer base to be targeted, and an analysis of the types of media available, their cost, and their effectiveness in connecting with the identified audience. All that information is used to develop a media plan. Media can be television, newspapers, magazines, mail, email and direct response. Today, social media is often a facet of advertising campaigns. Once the audience and methods for reaching it are determined, advertisers try to come up with a selling concept, preferably one that is unique and not readily applicable to competitors. Then, the ads themselves will be designed, produced and distributed. Finally, after the advertising campaign has run its course, its level of success is evaluated to provide information for its successors.
How Do Marketing and Advertising Work Together?
By attracting customer attention to a business’ product or service, advertising plays a vital role in marketing. It is often the greatest expense in any marketing strategy. However, advertising alone rarely creates a sustainable customer base. It is the marketing plan that lays the framework and provides the information necessary for successful advertising that will get customers interested in purchasing a product or service. And, it is the marketing plan that encourages customers to follow through with their planned purchases and to return for future purchases.
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Understanding why so many people consider the terms marketing and advertising to be interchangeable is easy. Both words refer to a business’ efforts to communicate the desirability of its product or service to likely customers. But, a closer look reveals that there is a distinct difference between marketing and advertising in terms of scope; marketing focuses on the big picture, and advertising is just one piece of that larger view.