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Untangling the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing

Using each to your best advantage.

The terms marketing, advertising, and branding are used interchangeably fairly frequently if you are not a marketer, but they are actually different parts of the process that work together to give your company the best exposure. Understanding how these differ is helpful when working with a professional marketer, designer or PR person so that you receive the type of service you need. If you are a business owner, it’s highly advantageous to know the differences and what your group needs for success before you head into that initial meeting.

Marketing:  This is the mama-jama. The broader term that encompasses all of the pieces. This could be social media, content marketing, branding, SEO, email, inbound marketing, lead generation or websites. There are so many ways to specialize here because it is really a huge landscape. Just specializing in the knowledge for social media or SEO can be someone’s full-time job if they are practicing it thoroughly and well.

Understanding your customer audience, where they go, what their preferences are, and what they read all falls under marketing. Understanding how your customers think and feel about you is also a key ingredient. Making assumptions about how your customer base feels, misses opportunities to improve products and services. Getting regular feedback is a part of that process that is oftentimes missed.

Branding:  This is also a big one, your identity, as it defines your company’s look and feel, messaging, voice and positioning. On a basic level, it also should include your value statement, tagline and other statements that help to define what you do and how / why you do it.

Think of it as defining it as a person. Blue eyes, brown hair. Personality – hard working and reliable, sense of humor (or not). People like doing business with companies that have really well-defined personalities. Think Southwest, HubSpot or Nike. Service companies should have an approachable and friendly persona. Healthcare or financial companies that have a large direct impact on your life, tend to keep conservative and helpful personas.

How you treat your customers is also an important part of your brand (Read my whole other post on that subject here >>>). Good experiences bring people back and get referrals. Negative ones, well… you’re on your own there.

Even within the same genre of company, you see differences in style. Upscale, fun, youthful, trendy, or conservative. Lifestyle brands have the door wide open to be as wild and fun as their intended customers are (or want to be).

Advertising:  You see these daily just between getting up in the morning and driving to work. Billboards, sponsored ads on Twitter, the radio, on your favorite news site. No media outlet is immune and space is a premium. This is all paid space and there are infinite ways to be seen.

Advertorials are a combination of more information and ad space. You see drug companies using this format in magazines as it allows more space for complete content and detail.

A quick word on PR. In some circles, this is sending out a press release to the local media. In wider circles, it means creating relationships with media personnel for feature stories. Overlapping often with marketing is social media, which straddles both sides of the line.  PR coverage is key if you are in the product space or running for office. An experienced PR person can build more exposure for you in parallel channels.

Hopefully, this clears it up for you. If not, we can discuss what it is that you need to achieve your company’s goals.

Amanda MacDonald

Amanda MacDonald

Founder of Full Gallop Communications

Amanda is a marketing veteran that works with businesses on improving brand communication, marketing strategy, and creating content marketing. When not in the office, Amanda can be found at the barn with her horse, walking her two dogs on Lake Ontario or baking something carbtastic in the oven.

Contact her at hello@fullgallopcomm.com to inquire about how your marketing efforts can become more successful.

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