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Marketing vs. Advertising: Which Is Right for You?

In a modern world filled with a constant bombardment of products and services, starting a business can be quite a challenge for several various reasons. First is certainly coming up with a product or service that would be either a new creation or an improvement on a previous version. That alone is quite a difficult concept to imagine. 

However, coming up with a new concept is only half of the battle. A product can only go so far as it’s been advertised, which only reaches the lengths of a target market. The constant struggle of trying to maintain a product or service while also expanding an audience with knowledge of said product or service requires a healthy dose of both marketing and advertising.

While similar, there are some critical differences between the two, and therefore, the question of marketing versus advertising will arise. Now before you can decide for yourself which one is right for you, we’ll have to first define the terms.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of creating a product or service that has value to a potential customer; marketing typically consists of making a concentrated effort to push a brand across various platforms in order to reach maximum buyers. Of course, the first step to any business model would be creating the product to be sold and figuring out just what the target market would be for said product. Business owners should ask themselves, “What am I making, and who is it for?” If a company is not sure who its intended audience is, then it would be difficult to reach them. 

If you’re selling a product targeted at a younger audience, for example, advertising on social media would make more sense than advertising in a phone book. Answering the questions of what the product is and who it is for are some of the earliest steps in any business model. 

In marketing, a concept known as the “4 Ps” can help explain the idea in more simple terms; the 4 P’s include Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. This outline answers all the most pivotal questions for any business. What is the product? How much does it cost? Where is it sold? Why should I choose this product over other similar products? Once these questions have been answered, a company is ready to begin marketing. 

Some examples of marketing include relationship marketing (building brand loyalty), influencer marketing (using celebrities or events), and the newer yet highly effective viral marketing (people passing along information quickly amongst each other like a virus). Essentially, marketing boils down to any kind of information on pricing or promotions, branding and services, prints, blogs, research, and also advertising. 

What Is Advertising?

Advertising is meant to raise awareness of a product and attempt to persuade consumers to purchase it. Raising awareness is important because customers are unlikely to purchase a product they have never heard of. Figuring out how to advertise and where are of the utmost importance to any business model’s success or failure. Without reaching a maximum level of consumers, profits are unable to reach their true potential. 

In previous decades, advertisements would include newspapers, television commercials, and even direct mail and flyers. While all of these types of advertisements still exist today, the most popular type of advertising has become online advertisements. In 2017 alone, over $229 billion was invested globally in online advertising, and that cost is projected to rise up to $335 billion in 2020. 

Social media in particular has exploded as an advertising opportunity with spending doubling from 2014 to 2016 and rising to over $35 billion in 2017. As companies have realized how much more cost effective and less wasteful online advertising can be, design firms have begun taking on a much larger role in helping get product information out into the world. By focusing solely on advertising, these agencies can allow a business to focus primarily on its product.

What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

Although it might seem like marketing and advertising are the same, there are significant differences between the two. While advertisements are indeed a part of marketing, there are many other forms of marketing as well. Marketing relies on three types of media to convey or transfer information: paid media (billboards, print and broadcast ads), owned media (using your own channels to market your own products), and earned media (word of mouth and reviews). 

While each of these types of media is important in marketing, advertising is generally limited to paid media. This is where the key differences between marketing and advertising are demonstrated. Not every company would have the means to promote its own products, so brands are more likely to rely on paid media and earned media instead of owned media. 

The critical difference between marketing and advertisements is simply paid media vs. earned media, namely, how a product or service is presented vs. how a product or service is perceived. In any business, doing both of these things wellis crucial to sustaining a successful business model.

Why Does Deciding Between Marketing and Advertising Matter?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one out of every five small businesses in the United States fail within the first year. By five years, that number jumps to around half, and by ten years, only a third are still running. Some of the potential causes range from a lack of demand for the product or service to cash flow problems or issues attracting the right employees. 

Where many business owners make their mistake is by forgoing a business plan. Drafting executive summaries and a description of goals and objectives alongside plans for marketing, operations management and finances creates the building blocks for any business to survive. However, when it comes to growing and expanding as opposed to just surviving, companies need to rely more on marketing and advertising. 

Building a network of customers for whatever good or service is being sold requires marketing research to determine who to target with your advertising and why, while advertising answers the questions of where and how to reach those customers. Relying on good reviews and positive word of mouth just may not be enough to bring in the new consumers and help the network grow to its potential.

How Do I Decide Whether Marketing or Advertising Is Right for Me?

When it comes to choosing between marketing and advertising, the reality is that you’ll need both in order to promote your business successfully. Whether you focus more on marketing or advertising will depend on the stage of your business, the product or service you are selling, and the target customer for your business.

Regardless of whether you’re planning to start with marketing or advertising, a design firm specializing in handling multiple requests (including both custom videos and graphic work) with a dedicated team can help business owners focus on their product or service while the design firm takes the lead on marketing or advertising. 

It’s important to remember that while advertising falls under the definition of marketing, companies have much more control over their advertising than most other forms of marketing. Although customer experiences and reviews may provide more value to a product or service, they are much harder to control. Using advertising allows the business to personalize or alter every detail for the intended market audience.


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