Marketing & Advertising: Can You Name the Difference?


Although advertising and marketing are often used interchangeably, the two terms represent different aspects of the business process. While marketing encompasses the entire process of selling a product or service to a certain audience, advertising focuses on a particular facet of this process. Understanding the difference between both of these frequently used business terms is the first step to creating an effective marketing strategy:

Marketing Defined:

Marketing can be defined in a number of ways. However, think of marketing as the start-to-finish process of introducing and selling a product or service to a targeted audience. While this process incorporates advertising, it also includes extensive research, analysis, and planning. Research on the conditions of the current market, target audiences, media trends, and possible media channels are just a small portion of the broad umbrella of marketing. Even with all of those components, that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.

Marketing requires a well-thought-out approach to make your company stand out in the marketplace. Taking all the research and analysis and creating a solid strategy for how and where the message is sent is what makes marketing truly a start-to-finish process. Essentially, marketing is the “overall goal” for a company to influence the way consumers view and engage with the brand.

Advertising defined:

Advertising reaches towards a similar goal as marketing but instead focuses on one specific component of the marketing process. While marketing encompasses the research, analysis, and planning that goes behind the actual message, advertising focuses on the literal message that’s presented. This includes things like the copy, media placement, and time allocation for the product or idea you’re trying to introduce. It takes the research and analysis portion of marketing, transforms it into a creative message, and positions it within the medium that best relays that message for the intended audience. Advertising is essentially the process of creating the end result that the consumers will actually see.

Even though advertising is just one facet of the marketing process, it’s still a very complex process. Advertising encompasses more than the actual content of the ad we see. It’s responsible for planning which media outlets to use and when to use them in order to most effectively get a message across. Consequently, good advertising always takes into consideration which media outlets will reach the targeted audience in the most effective way.

How they are used together:

While advertising is just a slice of the marketing pie, the two work together quite closely to reach the same goal. Marketing gathers all the information needed in order for the advertising department to create effective content. However, advertising is more of a short-term process, focusing more on communicating about specific projects, while marketing is more long-term, taking into consideration what will have the most far-reaching results for the company as a whole. If marketing was prepping the perfect race car, advertising would be setting it off to races to see if it wins.

While these two terms are different, the fact that they are so often confused with one another is no coincidence. Marketing and advertising are essentially focused around one overarching goal – to reach the consumer. Because the two work so closely together to achieve this one goal, they’re often lumped together. However, knowing the difference can keep you up-to-date on your business lingo and help your marketing and advertising efforts stay on target.