The Penultimate Word

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising

It always amazes me when business owners tell me that they don’t do any marketing. They say things such as “My products are so specialized that there’s no point in marketing” or “I’ve tried the traditional forms of marketing and they just don’t work.” In most instances, I just keep my mouth shut. But not today:


Wow. That was cathartic. I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I feel much better now.

Advertising is just one aspect of marketing.What makes me nutso is the confusion over marketing and advertising. It’s not just a matter of semantics; there is a difference.

When people say that they don’t do any marketing, what they really mean is that they don’t do any advertising. In other words, they don’t place ads in newspapers or magazines and they don’t run commercials on the radio or television. Advertising involves a paid, persuasive public announcement designed to sell a product or service.

Marketing, on the other hand, is a process. It’s …

  • Researching your target market to find out what’s important to them.
  • Identifying what differentiates you from your competition.
  • Developing a plan to guide your marketing decisions.
  • Creating a memorable logo and tag line.
  • Branding your company to reflect its culture.
  • Devising methods for reaching prospective customers.
  • Establishing programs to retain existing customers.

Marketing consists of planned business activities designed to raise awareness of a company, its products, and its services in order to generate sales. Components of marketing include:

  • Advertising.
  • Trade shows.
  • Packaging.
  • Catalogs.
  • Sponsorships.
  • Newsletters.
  • Websites.
  • Social media.
  • And so much more.

As you can see, many components make up marketing; advertising is just one of them.

True, not all business owners advertise, but EVERYONE markets.

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