If you read the title of this article and thought to yourself, “they’re the same, aren’t they?” then this is for you.

Let’s clarify with some definitions:

Advertising is “the act of calling public attention to one’s product or service, especially by paid means, including newspapers, radio, and other forms of media.”

Marketing, on the other hand, means “the systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.”

In layman’s terms, marketing is what is done so customers can purchase what you have to offer. This includes advertising, but isn’t solely limited to it, including other processes and components.  For instance, a product’s distribution—a marketing concept—could be considered part of advertising, especially if it calls attention to a product’s availability relative to others in similar categories.  However, distribution alone doesn’t draw customers towards it.  However, if the availability is advertised as “now available at your local neighborhood Wal-Mart”, then yes, it is considered advertising.

It is important to draw these distinctions because it calls attention to the essential responsibility business owners face when confronted with both terms: advertising alone won’t draw people in.  It takes a concerted marketing effort before advertising is even addressed so a product can be launched or redefined effectively for the marketplace.  Failure to recognize this can be costly and worse, fatal, for any business to succeed long-term.

What are some things that marketing does that advertising doesn’t do?  A short list, but by no means a comprehensive list is:

  • market research
  • media planning
  • public relations
  • product pricing
  • distribution
  • customer support
  • sales strategy
  • community involvement

As you can see, this isn’t a question merely of semantics.  Hopefully, this enriches your understanding between marketing and advertising.  Marketing is the complete picture.