Advertising VS Marketing – What’s The Difference?

advertising vs marketing
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In business, the terms Advertising and Marketing are often used interchangeably. Most often, you will hear people use the term “marketing” when they are actually referring to advertising.

But is there really a difference? Aren’t they both just communicating your products and services to the public?

The best way to remember the difference is this:

Advertising is the act of getting your message in front of people.

Marketing is the process of getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time.



Whether it be written, verbal, audio or visual, advertising is the act of broadcasting your message to the public. It may involve producing a television or radio commercial and paying for airtime, printing flyers to put in people’s letterboxes, or taking a full-page spread in the local newspaper. Advertising is how you spread the message.



Marketing is what happens before the advertising is even created. It involves research – learning who your publics are, what they need and how they want their needs filled. It involves planning – deciding what message to create, and how it will be broadcast. It involves decision-making – deciding what channels to use to broadcast the message and how the message will look.

In short, marketing is the process by which marketers decide which form the advertising will take to reach the people it needs to reach and communicate the message they need to hear. Therefore, in reality, advertising is one marketing tool in the whole marketing mix.

Advertising VS Marketing – why it’s important to know the difference

advertising vs marketing - what's the difference

Many business ventures fail because business owners don’t realise that advertising is only part of the marketing equation. While it does save time to only come up with one advertisement for a whole marketing campaign, it costs a lot of money to produce enough material to achieve market-wide coverage. Considering that the advertisement may only be relevant and useful to a small part of the whole market, this represents a massive waste of financial resources.

This approach is known as undifferentiated marketing. It can be useful for commodity markets, but is not suitable for niche products or bespoke services. As a small business owner with limited resources, you need to ensure you are spending your time and money where it will count.

Coming up with a marketing plan may take time, but is the best way to make the most efficient use of your limited resources. By ensuring that the right message gets in front of the right people at the right time, you are maximising your chances of getting the most return on your advertising investment.

4 simple steps to come up with a good basic marketing plan

marketing plan

By following these four steps and answering these basic questions, you can quickly come up with a good basic marketing plan to help your advertising efforts:


Know your product

What are you offering? How does it fulfil people’s needs? What makes it different to other similar products?


Know your market

Who are the people that will need your offering? Where do they live? How old or young are they? What do they spend their money on? What will convince them to choose you instead of a competitor?


Know your channels

Does your target market watch a lot of TV, or are they always on the internet? Do they listen to talkback radio or podcasts? Do they read newspapers or blogs? If they want to know more about you, will they call your phone number or visit your website?


Know your call to action

What action do you want people to take? Do you want them to call you, or visit your store? Do you want them to purchase online or sign up for your newsletter?


It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to do marketing properly. With a small time investment before a large advertising campaign, you are maximising your chances of success.