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Marketing and advertising are two phrases that are often used interchangeably. While there are some similarities between the two, there are also some differences to know. An understanding of these differences is important when developing an effective strategy that will meet your marketing goals and achieve the brand awareness you desire.

What is Marketing?

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In the broadest sense, marketing is the process of sharing your brand with others. It is a method of increasing potential customers to in turn increase revenue.

Marketing includes:

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  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Consumer behavior
  • Strategy planning
  • Strategy implementation
  • Product development
  • Service development
  • Brand alignment

Advertising is only one part of marketing. It can also be helpful to know what other disciplines of marketing are available, including public relations, market research, media planning, community relations, product pricing, and distribution.

Each of these is important to the overall goals of a business. While they all have similar goals and focus on marketing the brand’s services or products, each one presents them differently. Many brands, both small and large, choose multi-modal marketing strategies. This means that they find the right balance of things like marketing research, public relations, community relations, and advertising.

Each of the different elements is a process on its own, but when combined it creates the overall marketing strategy. To be effective, each element needs to work both independently and interdependently.

Other Types of Marketing

Marketing today includes a wide range of methods to effectively communicate the brand’s message to its customers. These are a few other types of marketing:

  • Digital marketing: This includes search engine optimization, email, and website content.
  • Social media: Social media marketing includes paid ads, photograph sharing, and even influencer marketing.
  • Brand management: Brand management is a process of focusing on customer satisfaction and how the brand is viewed by consumers.
  • Relationship marketing: Relationship marketing is a process of focusing on the relationship with the customer to make them loyal customers.
  • Global marketing: This is the ability or goal to expand a product’s availability globally.
  • Product development: This is the method of focusing on designing products that customers need and want.

Marketing is about choosing the right strategy for the intended audience. Marketers may be focused on identifying the customer base, creating buyer personas, and perfecting the brand message. Marketing tends to be more goal-orientated and long-term. An important part of marketing is to collect data to narrow down product interest to a specific type. It is the act of understanding a customer and their needs, and how they relate to the product in which you are selling or offering.

Inbound Versus Outbound marketing

Marketing can also be categorized as inbound or outbound. Inbound marketing refers to methods that provide value or information to customers, like content marketing. It is a less invasive approach that focuses on the customer before selling. Inbound marketing works differently than outbound marketing by informing customers to buy when they are ready.

Outbound marketing instead directs advertisements and messages to the customer. Instead of the customer coming to the business to find information, the brand reaches out to the customer.

What Is Advertising?

Simply put, advertising is a subset of marketing. But the differences go beyond that. Advertising is most often a paid form of marketing. It focuses on promoting a service or brand. Advertising includes things like collecting data about customers, considering different creative strategies, designing logos to align with the brand, and determining where to place ads.

Advertising can be used to:

  • Educate customers on the benefits of a product or service.
  • Encourage customers to take action and buy a product or sign up for a service.
  • Improve the reputation of a brand.
  • Increase the customer base.
  • Highlight new products or services within a brand.
  • Reach a wider range of customers.

Whereas marketing creates the messaging of a brand, advertising determines how and where to share that messaging. Advertising is the part of marketing that involves promoting the brand. Then, marketing takes that message and sends it to the public.

Advertising tends to be more creative-focused. This is because its goal is to reach an intended audience as soon as possible. It is a practice of editing and placing a message where it is most likely to reach customers. Advertising might include the placement of ads in different forums, including digital, TV, radio, or roadside billboards. Advertising often encompasses a large part of the marketing budget.

Advertising Channels

Advertising is usually made up of the following:

  • Traditional advertising: This refers to traditional methods of advertising which may include print or TV messaging or communications.
  • Retail advertising: Retail advertising refers to methods used in a retail location. This might include how a brand displays products or what ads they put in the customers’ shopping bags.
  • Digital advertising: Digital, or online, is one of the most common forms of advertising today. It often includes placing ads, creating videos, guest posts, or syndicating content. It may also include online services like SMS, email, pay-per-click ads, and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Content advertising: Content advertising has become one of the most popular methods used today, as it is less intrusive and highly effective. It is the method of providing readers with content that is educational and answers customer questions about products or services that customers are considering.
  • Billboard ads: Billboard ads are placed in highly populated communities or tourist areas where those in traffic are most likely to view them.
  • Mobile advertising: Mobile advertising is becoming an even more important method as the majority of people access the internet using their smartphones. Mobile advertising can be ads sent via text message or banner ads that appear on a mobile website.
  • Newspaper advertising: Brands may use display ads or classified listings in newspapers to promote their brand to people in specific locations.
  • Over-the-top advertising: Over-the-top marketing is newer and utilizes ad placement with video streaming services.

Advertising may include multiple types of campaigns. These campaigns will vary, depending on the target audience. For example, a brand trying to reach a younger population may include social media in its advertising strategy. A brand that wants to introduce home services to the Baby Boomer generation may not reach its target market online. Instead, they may invest in direct mail or TV media.

The occurrence and popularity of these marketing channels also change with time. Much of the twentieth century was made up of print and TV media marketing because that was how people got their information at the time. As the internet became a commonality in people’s lives, many brands made a shift toward communicating with customers digitally.

Advertising may only be one method, but it offers many benefits, making it a popular option. Advertising gives brands the ability to directly reach their target market. They have the ability to specifically target the age, gender, location, and buying habits of the potential customer.

Advertising vs Marketing: Some Similarities

It can also be helpful to review the similarities between advertising and marketing before diving into the biggest differences. While advertising is a part of marketing, advertising relies on data from marketing to be an effective strategy. It is only one aspect of a marketing strategy to consider.

Here are a few similarities to know between marketing and advertising:

  • They have similar goals: Both advertising and marketing are done to increase customer awareness and ultimately, customer sales. Both have a goal to promote a product or service.
  • They require a strategy: Whether your brand is involved in marketing or advertising, a strategy is necessary. This means identifying goals and how you will measure them.
  • They promote your brand: Any time you are promoting your product, you are conducting a form of advertising or marketing.
  • They have research and planning requirements: Both marketing and advertising require a good amount of research and planning before starting to understand your target market.

Both marketing and advertising also attempt to communicate a message to the customer. However, there are differences in the way the message is communicated. Marketing focuses on creating new content through better understanding the customer and helping them with their problems. Advertising, on the other hand, usually repeats the same content, attempting to reach a wider range of customers.

This is why it is important to spend a good amount of time focusing on your brand’s marketing strategy before spending advertising dollars. This is the message that you will not only communicate to your customers but that you will use on multiple sources of advertising methods.

Advertising vs Marketing: Biggest Differences

It is also important to understand the biggest differences between advertising and marketing. Advertising is a process of increasing customer awareness of a product. Marketing also includes the process of preparing the products for awareness. While there are usually costs involved with marketing, they are not as direct as the costs of advertising. Because advertising is the process of placing ads and getting the word out, it can be one of the most expensive parts of marketing.

There are a few other differences to consider:

  • Time: Because a marketing strategy involves numerous aspects of brand promotion, including advertising, it is often more time-consuming than advertising on its own.
  • Success measurements: Marketing is mostly about making consumers aware of the brand, whereas advertising is often measured using conversions.
  • Processes: The process of each also differs. Whereas marketing focuses on things like creation and research, advertising tends to focus on making the product known to the public. Marketing considers how best to align a product to its target audience and advertising focuses on the best way to describe a product to customers.
  • Aspect: Marketing focuses on things like product, price, place, people, promotion, and process and advertising solely focuses on promotion.
  • Length: Marketing goals often take longer to return results, whereas advertising can show short-term results. A brand may have a marketing team to continually evaluate the overall marketing strategy, and they may hire a company to complete advertising projects, like run paid ads or update the content and blogs on their website. The overall advertising strategy may also change multiple times, whereas it is unlikely to with marketing.
  • Focus: Marketing often focuses on creating a product or service for a market and is ultimately about creating awareness. Advertising focuses on getting the attention of the public and increasing sales.

With advertising, the brand has complete control over the process. This is not always the case with other types of marketing. For example, brands cannot always control the type of public relations they receive. Marketing can also be considered an organic approach, although it may also include paid types. It focuses on the long-term, which means that the plan is to nurture the customer until they convert and become loyal.

Even knowing the differences between marketing and advertising is a good first step toward creating an effective strategy.

Why Do the Differences Matter?

The differences between marketing and advertising may be minimal, but knowing them can help you create an effective marketing strategy. Being aware of the differences is not only important when it comes to strategy, but also choosing resources. Combining the two methods can lead to marketing professionals being involved in tasks that don’t relate to their strengths. Brands also don’t want to waste marketing dollars by targeting the wrong sales funnel.

As technology emerges further, the differences between the two will become even less prominent. More people are shifting priorities from diverse marketing campaigns to advertising methods. While the most common advertising methods used today are digital, including social media, content, and paid ads, there is still some value in looking at your marketing strategy as a whole. Additionally, many advertising methods today provide the best results when combined. For example, organic content that provides value to customers is useful. However, sponsored content may be necessary to reach your customers.

Marketing vs. Advertising Strategies

A strategy is a process of making a plan with the intent of achieving a goal. In simple terms, brands make marketing or advertising strategies to increase brand awareness or conversions. There are a few differences in marketing versus advertising strategies.

Marketing Strategies

Marketing can be categorized into a few important strategies, which include:


Product refers to the product you’re selling. Products should meet consumer demand. It can be helpful to look at why your product is unique to other similar products or brands in the market. This will help you choose which marketing methods to use. Product focuses on things like:

  • Functionality
  • Appearance
  • Warranty
  • Quality
  • Packaging


Establishing the right price is also important. Brands need to consider things like perceived value and opportunity costs. You will also factor in production cost and the cost of marketing. Price focuses on:

  • Selling price
  • Available discounts
  • Payment adjustments
  • Price matching
  • Credit terms


Promotion is the process of relaying messaging or information about your products or services. It focuses on questions like “What is the best method to reach your customers?” “What information do you need to get across to them in the marketing method that you choose?” Promotion is a type of advertising. Promotion focuses on the following:

  • Sponsorships
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Messaging
  • Media


Place refers to supply, or where the product comes from. It is the process of choosing a distribution, considering franchising, or it might refer to physical retail or e-commerce. It is the process of ensuring the customer can find a product. Place focuses on the following:

  • Distribution channels
  • Logistics policies
  • Service levels
  • Location of product
  • Market coverage


People refers to the employees that make the business run efficiently. Customer service is often a big part of this strategy. People focuses on things like:

  • Services provided
  • The attitude of the brand
  • Customer service
  • The appearance of the brand
  • Employee portrayal

This is also referred to as the five Ps of marketing. They are elements that brands or business owners control to increase value and stand out against their competitors.

Advertising Strategies

Advertising strategies usually center around the goal of getting the message out in the most effective manner possible. Here are a few advertising strategies:

Emotional Appeal

Many advertising strategies use an emotional appeal approach. This means that the brand attempts to activate the emotional responses of its potential customers. This might include emotions like:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Happiness
  • A desire to improve looks

Promotional Advertising

Promotional advertising is a strategy that primarily uses promotions to attract customers. By offering discounts or free items, the brand encourages the customer to try the product. Promotional advertising might include things like:

  • Buy one get one free offer
  • Discount off your next order coupon
  • Promotional cash
  • Half off a product

Family-Friendly Messaging

Many brands also focus on a family-friendly message. This allows them to reach parents or households with children to sell a product. Family-friendly messaging may include things like:

  • Advertising the safety features of a vehicle
  • Highlighting the fun features of a child’s toy
  • Providing parents with a game that assists with educational goals
  • Highlighting household features that will help families maintain a busy schedule

Facts and Statistics

Facts and statistics are other common methods of advertising. Brands provide customers with facts and statistics that encourage them to take action. This might include things like:

  • An ad that promotes awareness of the effectiveness of a product
  • A flyer that earns customer trust using statistics
  • A certification or rating on a product
  • An ad that highlights the statistical superiority of the brand

Because it is becoming easier for brands to get marketing messages out to customers, they are met with more noise. This means it is more difficult to stand out from other brand messaging. Additionally, reading billboards or viewing commercials on TV doesn’t have the same effect that they once did. Even users on social media are more selective about which brands they use and perfecting your strategy is important.

Who Works in Marketing and Advertising?

It can be helpful to understand the experience and job duties of those who work on marketing versus advertising teams. Individuals who work on a marketing team may be involved in larger picture strategy. They may have to do more research to decide which marketing methods make sense for their specific service or product.

A marketing team may include:

  • Media planners
  • Public relations
  • Distribution manager
  • Sales professionals
  • Pricing professional
  • Procurement specialist

This is in comparison to an advertising team. An advertising team may be outsourced by the company to complete specific projects that align with its marketing goals. An advertising team may include:

  • Ad placements
  • Media planner
  • Media buyer
  • Content strategist
  • PPC specialist
  • Social media marketer

There is often an overlap in the tasks and goals of each team, which is what partly contributes to the use of both words to describe marketing or advertising. However, marketing professionals will usually be involved in the overall strategy of the business. They may also be in charge of overseeing different outsourced agencies, like in public relations or content creation.

The size of the company can also affect the teams. Some marketing teams, especially ones in a smaller company, may be involved in both marketing and advertising tasks. Larger companies will usually have different departments for each. Some smaller to medium-sized businesses may also have a marketing team and then outsource their advertising strategies.

However, their goals will be similar and they will likely collaborate on many projects. Whatever your marketing strategy consists of, it is important that your marketing and advertising teams closely align with each other. Even if a brand chooses to outsource marketing and advertising, both teams must work together.

How Do You Create an Effective Marketing Strategy?

It is important to know when to use marketing versus advertising strategies for your business. In most cases, an effective marketing strategy will include both marketing and advertising. However, even if you choose not to implement certain techniques, like TV or commercials into your campaign, marketing should be the first step since advertising is only one part of marketing.

You can create an effective marketing strategy with the following steps:

  1. Establish your goals: It is always a good idea to evaluate your goals when choosing which platforms and types of campaigns to focus on. Newer companies may need to spend more time focusing on a marketing strategy and how each of the advertising components fits into it. Write out your goals, ensuring that they are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based.
  2. Create a development plan: A development plan involves deciding who your target customer is, what they want, what problems they need to solve, how they best receive information, and how you will ultimately, get the word out about your product. This process will also include setting a marketing budget, allocating it to each marketing channel.
  3. Create your messaging: Before you begin sharing your message, you first need to decide what that message is. What message do you want to give your customers? What information is most important to them?
  4. Evaluate the Ps of marketing: Evaluate each of the P’s discussed earlier. Spend a good amount of time on each one to create your overall marketing strategy.
  5. Choose your marketing methods: Determining what types of marketing methods best align with your overall goals.
  6. Consider your advertising options: Once you have created your marketing strategy, you will want to decide how best to get the word about your product out. Determine if advertising will be a part of that strategy and what specific advertising channels to include.
  7. Design and complete creatives: Whether you choose a strategy like content marketing or online ads, you will need creatives that align with your marketing message.
  8. Compile each element of your strategy: You want each of your advertising plans to closely align with your marketing goals. If you’re running multiple types of advertising, like content, website, radio, and TV, you want consistent messaging across all platforms. Once you effectively design your marketing strategy, you can then determine which advertising methods to use.

It is important to note that both advertising and marketing are useful and beneficial. Smaller businesses with limited budgets are more likely to choose a single type of advertising within their marketing plan. Larger companies will usually incorporate multiple forms of advertising into their marketing campaigns, which means they will need to create a strategy that aligns each method with the overall goals of the brand.

The process of developing a marketing strategy can be timely and will usually take longer than determining which advertising methods to use. Even things like choosing the brand’s colors and logo so that they align with the target customer are important. The more research that you do, the better you can choose the right placements, which also means maximizing your budget.

Evaluating the Marketing and Advertising Sales Funnel

Another goal of marketing is to push customers through the sales funnel. Let’s look at the different parts of the sales funnel and how marketing and advertising apply to the different portions. The sales funnel is made up of the following parts:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Decision
  • Purchase
  • Repeat customer

The upper funnel is when a brand reaches a customer before they decide to make a purchase. Marketing focuses on the upper funnel, including awareness, interest, and decision. The lower funnel is when the customer is aware of the brand and makes the decision to buy. Advertising focuses on the lower funnel.

Brands want to encourage customers to move from a lead to a converted customer. Depending on the marketing strategy and the product, this can take a few days to a few years. Some industries, like retail including clothing and shoes, have a much shorter buying cycle than larger purchases, like home appliances. The length of the buying cycle will also determine which marketing methods you might use.

For example, if you’re trying to sell clothing, retail or print advertising may be effective. However, these same methods are likely to be less effective when selling cars or new appliances. You may need to nurture the customer longer, and a part of that may include advertising.

The Advertising Buying Cycle

While advertising is a part of the usual marketing buying cycle, customers may go through their own buying cycle when presented with advertising methods. Advertising is the process of not only deciding who your customer is, but also how you will speak to them, and where you will reach them. Advertising focuses on crafting a message by considering where the customer is at in the buying cycle:

  • Awareness
  • Knowledge
  • Liking
  • Preference
  • Conviction
  • Purchase

Marketing is about promoting a product or service to the right person, for the right price. Connecting each of these factors is important to the sales goals of the company.

Psychological Stages of the Funnel

The sales funnel can also be divided into different psychological perceptions. Many brands may rely on emotional or psychological states to meet the buyer where they are at in the buying cycle.

This includes:

  • Cognitive: During cognitive, which includes awareness and knowledge, the goal is to encourage customers to process information. Advertising at the level includes informative information or products or services. This might be in the form of how-to guides, FAQs, guest posts, or content through blogs. Cognitive is a part of the upper sales funnel.
  • Affective: During affective, which includes liking and preferences, the goal is for customers to relate to the brand. Advertising should be emotionally driven. Affective is a part of the middle sales funnel.
  • Conative: During conative, which includes conviction and purchase, customers have already shown interest in the brand. Advertising should have an active call to action to assist buyers. Conative marketing also appeals to a buyer’s impulses. It uses things like promotions or coupons to encourage timely action. It is a part of the lower sales funnel.

Understanding the different parts and psychological stages of the sales funnel can help brands choose which advertising methods to include in their marketing strategy. It can also help brands decide if they are ready to implement advertising into their campaigns. This is especially important for larger-valued items that require more thought and consideration.

How to Choose Marketing vs Advertising

Most brands won’t choose between advertising vs marketing. Instead, they will begin with an overall marketing strategy. Likely, this marketing strategy will also include advertising, but the specific types will vary, based on the goals and needs of the business. Here are a few things that you might consider to choose the right method:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What is your overall marketing budget?
  • How much of that budget will be spent on advertising?
  • What is the best method to reach your customer?
  • What aspects of marketing are most important to your brand?
  • What are the brand’s goals?
  • How can you measure the brand’s goals?

There is not really one marketing strategy that will evenly apply to all businesses. It is not as easy as dividing your marketing budget into multiple aspects based on a percentage. Different brands often have different needs and understanding these needs is an important part of creating a strategy.

For example, a business in the south that sells furniture to new residents in a popular retirement community may not be as effective if they run ads on Facebook. The majority of their customers are local and they do not spend as much time on social media. They may allocate more of their marketing budget to advertising routes like newspapers or placing ads in the community newsletter.

In comparison, a brand in the northeast that targets college students for summer internships may not receive the same success rates from placing ads in the community newsletter or newspaper. Younger generations, especially college students, are more likely to read their news online. They will likely notice ads from this brand through social media. They are also more likely to respond to content that informs them of what they can expect and how the process works.

Additionally, using the same examples, an effective website with informative content may be important in both. Even if residents learn about a brand through the newspaper, they are likely to turn to the internet to verify the given information.

Brands with a lower budget may begin with an overall marketing strategy. They may not yet focus on advertising methods.

Marketing vs. Advertising Examples

Now that we have a better idea of the similarities and differences between marketing and advertising, let’s look at few examples:


Most people can recall at least one or two Pepsi commercials. The commercials, especially ones that air during popular events, are creative and entertaining. They may highlight current issues or bring up popular topics. The commercials play on the emotions and urge of current and potential customers and would be a type of advertising. They are specific campaigns that were designed to push their message to a wider group of people.

These commercials are only a part of their marketing strategy. Their strategy likely includes other forms of advertising like social media, influencer marketing, and retail advertising.


Regardless of their age or interests, ask anyone what Nike’s campaign slogan is, and they will likely be able to tell you. We have all heard the famous Just Do It slogan, even if we can’t remember the details of the commercials. This famous motto is a form of marketing. It is the message that they want to give customers about their brand. They further promote this message through advertising methods like commercials.

You might also notice Nike ads on billboards, print magazines, and even when shopping in-store. They chose numerous methods, which allows them to reach a wider range of people, meaning the message will leave a lasting impression on current and potential customers.


Applebees, one of the largest restaurant chains in the U.S., is well-known. The company’s marketing campaign focuses on affordable, delicious, foods. Their slogan “Eatin Good in the Neighborhood” is a message that encourages happy feelings from customers. These are all a part of their marketing strategy. Applebees uses different advertising channels to further communicate this message, like promotional offers and commercials. This allows them to reach a wider audience and increase their overall sales.

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless has built a reputation of superiority in being a reliable, family-friendly carrier. Their messaging highlights their best-in-class coverage and affordable family deals. This is all a part of their marketing campaign. Verizon Wireless then takes that message and communicates it to their customers through advertising methods like commercials with family-friendly messaging.

These are just a few of the top brands with distinct differences between their marketing and advertising strategies and goals. Take a look at some other brands you use in your day-to-day and try to determine what methods are a part of each campaign.

Key Points to Remember

In conclusion, marketing and advertising are not always the same thing. Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Advertising is a subset of marketing.
  • While advertising is marketing, marketing is not advertising.
  • Marketing includes many other types, including mostly paid channels.
  • Other types of marketing, besides advertising, that may be included in your strategy include organic marketing, inbound or outbound, public relations.
  • The goals between marketing and advertising are similar, but the processes differ.
  • Marketing focuses on product, price, promotion, place, people, and process. Advertising focuses on the promotion of the product.

Marketing is the process of creating brand awareness and messaging. Advertising is a subset of marketing, but an important one. Most effective marketing strategies will include advertising, as well as other types. In addition to choosing which marketing channels to use, brands will need to consider the details of their product and when, and how, to best reach the potential customer.

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