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Marketing vs Advertising: What's the Difference Between the Two?

By ZioSolutions

On the surface, marketing and advertising seem very similar and almost interchangeable. The confusion is understandable.

After all, they both have a common purpose -- to convince someone to buy a product or use a service.

While the end goal is often the same, there are distinct differences between marketing and advertising, and each one has unique processes and techniques. Having a better idea of what's involved with each one can help you streamline your efforts and connect with customers.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing Team Strategy Meeting

Marketing is the purpose of preparing a specific product or service to present to a certain market, or group of intended consumers. It's communication between your business and your target audience.

It also involves having a clear understanding of who is likely to be interested in what you have to offer, or your target audience.

By establishing your target audience you can ensure you'rre presenting whatever it is you have to offer to those that are likely to want to make a purchase, use a service, make a donation, give you a call to order something, or request additional information.

Marketing is further defined by the five "Ps", or principles, of marketing:
  • People: The people who will be purchasing and using the product/service you're selling.
  • Product: A product addresses a specific consumer need.
  • Price: The amount consumers are willing to pay for a product.
  • Place: Places where the consumer will be able to have access to the product.
  • Promotion: Any form of communication used to promote a product.

Defining Your Audience

A big part of marketing is doing research to get a better idea of who your target audience is and what's likely to appeal to them, what problems your products or services will likely solve for them, and the values that often attract them to a particular business, brand, product, or service.

Involving data you collect yourself and gather from outside sources, market research applies to any data that's relevant to your business. It's this information you can use to define your target audience, which can help you achieve the following goals:

  • Identifying what colors, styles, and designs to associate with your products and services
  • Developing an understanding of who your likely customer is and what motivates them to take action
  • Determining how to effectively communicate your brand's message

Reaching Your Audience

While you'll also be reaching out to specific consumers with advertising, the purpose for doing this is more involved with marketing.

For instance, there are times when the main purpose of reaching a certain audience is to increase brand awareness or encourage brand loyalty by offering something relevant and of value beyond a sales pitch.

Marketing is about building and sustaining relationships. A good example of this is with social media marketing.

You may ultimately want people to go to your website to see what you have to offer or complete a conversion, but it's relevant, useful content that inspires followers to pay attention to your business on social platforms.

Marketing can also help you reach your intended audience with:
  • Informative blog posts and articles
  • Email newsletters
  • Seo efforts to increase visibility online in organic search results
  • Active social media engagement and real-time conversations
  • And more...

What Is Advertising?

Young People Advertising Concept

Advertising has a very defined purpose -- to spread the word about your business and what you have to offer.

Marketing is focused on reaching out to potential consumers in many different ways to showcase the value of what you have to offer and how its relevant to them. It's one form of marketing communication with the primary goal of influencing buying behaviors.

Advertising is focused on creating awareness of the products and services you have to offer. It's also about letting people know the particular benefits or attributes of what you are offering.

Reaching Potential Buyers

Advertising typically comes into play after market research has been done and it's been determined that there is an interest in what you have to offer.

With advertising, there is a clear sales pitch. You are tapping into your target audience and putting your products or services front and center.

Methods of achieving this goal include:
  • Print media
  • Sending out offers via email or text message
  • TV and radio ads
  • Placing ads on social platforms
  • Paid search methods like pay-per-click advertising

Offering Incentives to Purchase

The promotion that's involved with advertising goes beyond creating awareness of your brand and includes boosting awareness of your products and services.

Promotion with marketing tends to be about letting people know about your brand. Common promotional tactics in advertising, such as sending out coupon codes or offering special deals, however, are designed to convince people to take immediate action.

How Marketing and Advertising Work Together

Advertising is a slice of the marketing pie. Because of this connection, a lot of what goes on with advertising involves efforts related to marketing, even though the specific role of advertising is different.

After you figure out who your audience is, advertising is one of the strategies you use to target that audience.

For instance, you can use your marketing research to determine which social platform to use for your advertising campaigns based on an understanding of where people who prefer your brand are most active.

You'll also use a lot of the data that's collected through market research to determine where to place your ads for maximum visibility.

With that being said, these are some of the key differences between marketing and advertising:
  • Advertising is a paid, public, typically non-personal announcement
  • Marketing is a mix of all activities that bring buyers and sellers together
  • Advertising is ad placement
  • Marketing has a unique selling proposition based on how a business is presented to the pubic (your business' values, characteristics, purpose, etc.)


Although the individual tasks that come with marketing and advertising yield some key differences, the two are best used in cooperation.

In fact, it makes sense to incorporate marketing and advertising strategies to achieve common goals such as getting more conversions, increasing or sustaining revenue, and increasing brand awareness and visibility.

Having a clear understanding of what's involved with each process and how you can integrate your marketing and advertising efforts, ultimately leads to business growth.

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I hope you found this information beneficial and feel free to comment down below any thoughts or questions you may have.

Topics: Advertising, Marketing Tips