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Marketing vs. Advertising

It may come as a surprise to those of you who are involved in the marketing industry to see another post comparing and stipulating the differences between marketing and advertising.


It’s even more surprising to take note that many businesses still do not have a distinction between the two.

Our latest article tackles the titular topic while explaining the differences and uses of the two faculties. As a digital branding firm, we aim to give our audience and clients expertise but also overall advice on the marketing sphere of business, and having no discernible difference between advertising and marketing should be a major concern for your business.

But, what is Marketing?

Investopedia defines marketing as the “activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses. Some marketing is done by affiliates on behalf of a company.”


Quite simply put, Marketing is about promotion right? To an extent yes.


The AMA defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”


This takes our definition one step further to the side, but one thing stands out. Marketing is not simple.


In fact, the process of marketing a brand, product, service, or person is not solely dependent on promotion or branding. In most cases, it should already start with an idea and a customer.

An excellent book by Seth Godin declares that the efforts of marketing anything begin with the customer. If a company is looking to coerce and entice potential customers, then the act of marketing is not right. Yes, one can by definition engage in the marketing process, but this does not mean that your marketing efforts are done with the right intentions and in turn, may not have the same effect.


The process of marketing is where most businesses and firms lose touch. They see marketing and advertising almost as synonymous and when they deny this, placing them in intensive circumstances where sales are down and the need for turnover is the main priority, it quickly becomes evident that their point-of-view on marketing is mainly associated with advertising.


The problem, in this case, isn’t the lack of focus on marketing, it’s the focus on the intention of marketing and how the sole purpose is to get that ROI. This is not marketing, this is advertising.

The owner, the brand, and the customer

Business owners are slowly shifting towards being more client-centric, however, this process cannot occur fast enough. Having firms that engage with clients, build relationships with their industries and focus on creating a brand that matters should be the major focus of all marketers, however, the consistent need to produce results and a return on the monthly advertising fund usually places marketers in a precarious position.


The brand of any major or upcoming firm also suffers when the shift of focus is only on generating sales and clients. Soon enough, the target market will see that the firm is constantly bombarding its Facebook feeds with promotional advertisements accompanied by un-skippable YouTube ads.

This unintentionally harms the brand by creating the association of a greedy business, not desperate but greedy. If your firm was desperate you would look internally for a solution, but greedy firms look to gain as many clients in the shortest amount of time, using the least amount of resources … all the time.
So advertising is bad?


No. Advertising your brand is a crucial tool in the marketing toolbox. But it’s not a multipurpose screwdriver with a measuring tape and hot glue-gun function. It doesn’t solve every problem. Advertising is crucial in getting the word out to customers, allowing them to see what you cooking in your kitchen and letting them know that when you do have a promotion, there is something they can benefit from.

Marketing and advertising can be summed up thusly. When you head to your nearest soft-serve ice cream joint and order a plain old vanilla ice cream, adding a dash of sprinkles won’t hurt, but if you suddenly dunk your whole cone in the sprinkle jar and pull out a multi-colored mountain, it’s safe to say that you’re missing the point.

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