What is the difference between marketing and advertising? Try as I might to explain the complex relationship, a uniquely dynamic interplay between both kinds of work continues to perplex questioners. My hope is to put their confusion to rest via this post once and for all.
Advertising – is a company’s message to prospects and customers. It is intangible and often persuades the receiver to act a certain way in as few words, pictures, or symbols as possible. Coca Cola has used the same message for decades. Their ads often appear as a Coca Cola logo with the word “enjoy” placed above it. They are saying, “Enjoy Coca Cola.”
Marketing – is a company’s strategy around getting the message (advertisement) and/or product in front of the right people as effectively and efficiently as possible. Using Coca Cola again as an example, they leverage thousands of avenues to bring their product and message to customers. A few ways might be soda vending machines, grocery store coupons, and even delivery trucks with their slogan painted across the side.
Distinctions between advertising and marketing were not always so. Soon after the USA’s industrial revolution, advertising was popularized by businessmen like David Ogilvy who started creating more complex messaging around products and services to give them greater appeal when juxtaposed to other similar goods. At that time marketing was significantly less complex than it is today because the vehicle by which a brand message could be distributed was limited to sales people, TV, radio, magazine, billboard, or similar.
Business landscapes have changed significantly since then and the opportunity to market products through PR, internet, and ‘guerilla’ tactics has skyrocketed. Educated customers sometimes can’t tell if what they are seeing is paid-for content or unbiased. As a result, there are no more advertising agencies operating in the truest sense of the term.
In my opinion, today’s ad/marketing companies are working within the constraints of the 80-20 rule. 80% of their time is spent organizing a clever enough strategy to cut through the clutter, and 20% is creating the actual message they work so hard to put in front of their demographic.
Hopefully this blog clears up some misconceptions regarding two lines of business which co-exist often as one unit. Let us know if you have questions or would like to comment on the explanation provided above.
–Lee Sumner, Sr. Research Manager