Marketing vs Advertising: What’s the Difference​?

Feb 20, 2021

At a glance, marketing and advertising seem to be synonymous; two words that can be used interchangeably to describe a process that helps you sell more goods or services. At BCI Media we feel that being able to differentiate between the two will help create a more complete, holistic approach to achieving your business goals. 

In basic terms, marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and providing the information to solve a problem. Advertising is the act of promoting a company and its goods or services through paid channels. Another contrast is advertising is directed at customer attraction, while marketing is focused on customer retention. That’s why successful companies need to have strategic plans for both advertising and marketing. Let’s break it down.

What Is Marketing?

There are many different types of marketing out there. You can choose from inbound or outbound marketing, online or offline marketing, email marketing and CTA marketing, to name a few. For the purposes of this article, we are going to speak about content marketing. This type of marketing involves storytelling, and the creation and sharing of online material such as blogs, videos and social media posts. This content is not intended to explicitly promote a brand. Its purpose is to stimulate interest in the brand’s products or services by expanding the conversation. Content marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses on building relationships with your target audience.

How Marketing Works

Let’s start by considering our own personal social media accounts. We all have that friend who continuously posts nothing but selfies with comments like “going to the gym” or “morning coffee.” Their social media page is a running commentary of their every move, and chances are you scroll past their posts because they offer nothing of interest. Now, imagine a business that does the same thing – only posting about ongoing sales or new products arriving. Don’t get me wrong, these posts are important. However, they only offer value to someone who wishes to make a purchase soon. 

To maintain the interest of customers before, during and after the sale, you need to expand the conversation. Let’s say, for example, you sell fireplaces. You create a post about an upcoming sale and a new customer buys a new fireplace. The next time that customer is on social media, they see a post about new fireplaces in stock. This customer doesn’t need a new fireplace now, therefore they don’t need to engage with this post, and they keep scrolling. 

Let’s change things. Perhaps next time they log on, they see an article about how to clean and care for a new fireplace. Now you’re solving a problem for the customer, and they are going to stick around to read about it. You’ve just expanded the conversation around your brand to include ways you can help your client, not just sell products to them. In a nutshell, content marketing builds loyalty, trust and authority for your business. 

What is Advertising?

Advertising is anything that has to do with ads. It’s the literal process of promoting a product and service to your customer. Advertising occurs across multiple channels, but they all have one thing in common: You will need to pay to get your message on a chosen platform. Typically, the more desirable the platform and its audience, the more you can expect to pay for advertising. This holds true for print, online, radio and video, so you’ll want to know which channel your audience uses before you buy. 

How Does Advertising Work?

Advertising includes things like banner ads, social media ads or newspaper ads. When used properly and strategically, advertising can drive customer acquisition and boost sales. It establishes a one-way channel of communication, where brands can broadcast non-personal messaging to a general audience. This involves creating a campaign that aligns with the wants and needs of the prospective audience. It works by getting the word out about a specific product, service or offer your brand wants to promote.

They’re so Different, Why do They Get Confused?

First of all, it’s important to note that advertising is actually a component of marketing. Think of it this way, if marketing is the whole pie, advertising is a slice of it. Advertising uses data to implement strategies that best communicate the brand. Marketing is a wide-reaching process, used to collect the data that determines where advertising dollars should be spent. In a way, marketing is both research and practice, while advertising is just practice. At BCI Media, our experts know that if advertising is all you’re doing to market your business, you could be missing out on sales. Marketing offers you the opportunity to elevate your brand, connect with your customers and drive sales for your business. It’s crucial to understand how marketing and advertising differ, as well as how they work together. Contact us today to find out how allocating a specific budget for both will help your brand successfully Dominate Digital.