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What is the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?


People often confuse advertising and marketing. The two share some similarities, but there are many differences. Knowing what those differences are can help you grow your company, sell more products and create a better long-term vision for your business.

What is Advertising?

Advertising is making both repeat customers and potential new customers aware of an individual product or service that you're selling. Each advertising plan is geared toward a single product (or service). The advertising of every product or service is unique. For example, advertising a new toaster would be very different from advertising a sale on blue jeans.

Advertising is done through:

  • radio and television commercials
  • newspaper and magazine ads
  • flyers
  • brochures
  • emails
  • web advertisements
  • cold calls to potential clients

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a broader range of activities for a product or service. Activities involved in marketing a product include:

  • Research
  • Advertising
  • Sales
  • Public relations
  • Customer service and satisfaction

Marketing is also geared toward one product or service, but as you can see, it's much more involved than simply advertising a product. Here's a closer look at the different aspects of marketing.

1. Research

It takes a bit of research to effectively market a product or service. Here are some questions you'll want to research as part of your marketing strategy:

  • Who are the potential customers for my product?
  • What do those potential customers need, and can I provide that need?
  • How should I meet those needs?
  • What are my potential customers willing to pay? How much should I charge for my product or services?
  • Who are my competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can I do that my competitors can't? (What's my niche?)

2. Advertising

Once you've done your research, you can use that to craft your advertising campaign for your product or service, through the means listed above.

3. Sales

Making sales of your products or services is self-explanatory. If you've done your research and crafted an effective advertising campaign, you'll start to see sales from those efforts. Before you get too excited, there's more work to be done in your marketing campaign.

4. Public Relations

This is your ongoing relationship with the public, and continuous promotion of your business so that people view you in a positive light. This can be done through press releases that result in positive media coverage. You can also go straight to the public by becoming more involved in your community through public service projects. An example could be partnering with a youth services organization to put on an activity for families, or making a donation to a worthy cause. These activities sometimes go hand-in-hand. A community project can garner positive media coverage, which helps you maintain a good reputation in your local community.

5. Customer Service and Satisfaction

Once someone has purchased a product from you, you want to make sure they're happy with the product. You can develop ways to survey your customers, such as a card they can fill out and drop in the mail (postage paid), or an online survey they can take to tell you about their experience with the product. When customers come to you with complaints or questions, make sure you're attentive. This can help head off potential problems in the future. It also helps you plan out future advertising strategies, and learn how to better meet their needs.

As you can see, advertising and marketing are not the same thing. Advertising is just one aspect of your overall marketing plan. The two should go hand-in-hand to help you better meet the needs of your customers.


Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.

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