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The Difference Between Marketing & Paid Advertising

What’s the difference between marketing and paid advertising?

Marketing includes:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Direct marketing
  • Referral marketing
  • Loyalty and rewards programs
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Outbound marketing

Paid advertising includes:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Paid social
  • Paid search
  • Display advertising
  • Direct marketing
  • Product placement
  • Billboards

Marketing vs Advertising

Marketing is getting the word out about your product or service indirectly. That means through word of mouth, a viral campaign or post. This type of advertising is not always obvious to all potential customers.

Paid advertising is a direct approach to let potential customers know about your service. It can usually be spotted and identified as paid promotional placement. That means an ad on the radio, on TV, a paid Facebook ad, a sponsored game or program.

Your hope is that both marketing and paid advertising have the same end result: getting your company or brand to the masses to help garner attention, and in the end, make you money. But in one case, it’s a lot less expensive.

Many small businesses don’t have the massive budget to spend on advertising to spread the word. When it comes to watching your budget and not spending exurbanite amounts of money on advertising, you certainly understand the difference between marketing and paid advertising.

So here’s the broad version of it:

Marketing = getting your word out through your word-of-mouth efforts. 

Paid advertising = you pay for it and it is fairly quickly identified.

But for as different as they may sound from the outside, they can actually work together. In short, advertising is a subset of marketing. It’s that simple.

Consider marketing as an airplane dashboard while paid advertising is the throttle to increase the speed of the plan on the way to its destination, says Trevor Wolfe, CEO, and Founder of BigTeam.

“Throughout the journey, the plane will need to contend with more than just speed, like height, air temperature, headwind, and oncoming traffic,” Wolf said. “Likewise, a brand or product will also need to factor in more than just user acquisition like branding, PR, customer loyalty, competition and market forces. Marketing provides the other levers and buttons to make sure the brand stays afloat and safe.”

It’s important to remember that marketing is a very broad function. It includes everything a business does to acquire, connect and communicate with their target audience. Advertising, on the other hand, is a subset of marketing. The specific purpose of advertising is to influence the audience to purchase.

Paid Advertising in that context refers to the paid or sponsored advertisements placed online or offline to acquire customers or to encourage people to buy. The aim of marketing is to build a connection with the target audience. While the sole purpose of advertising is to sell.

Marketing is holistic, it goes beyond market research and customer support. Whereas, advertising is just a part of marketing. Marketing doesn’t necessarily need to be paid. But paid advertising is, well, paid.

Brandon Bateman, the founder of Bateman Collective, says marketing is often divided into four P’s, which are product, place, promotion, and price.

“Paid advertising can make up a part of the “promotion” section of marketing, which also can include several other activities. The reason we put so much focus on advertising is that it SEEMS to yield results for successful companies,” Bateman said. “In reality, all aspects of marketing come together to produce the results. You can advertise as much as you want, but unless you perfect the four P’s, you probably won’t get the results you’re looking for.”

The debate over marketing vs. advertising has forever been a contentious discussion at companies around the world. But here’s the bottom line: advertising is always selling something. Here’s an event, here’s an idea, here’s a product – you want this. I’m not asking, I’m not explaining, I’m telling you. 

Whereas marketing is more strategic and more thorough. It’s looking at all the moving pieces of how a customer looks at, interacts with, and thinks of your business or organization. That includes product development, advertising, online/digital marketing, customer service, and branding.

The ultimate goal is getting someone to buy, but it’s more methodical than just a pitch. Marketing shows you the value of a product, differentiates you from the competition, and meets you wherever you currently are in the buying process.

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