Marketing vs. Advertising

by | Business Skills

When people talk about marketing, what comes to mind?

If you’re like most people you think of Superbowl commercials, funny billboards, or Facebook ads.  When we hear the word marketing we mostly think of advertising.  But in reality, advertising is just one piece of what marketing really is.  In fact, in business school I took a ten-week course in marketing and in that whole course, only about 1 1/2 of those weeks was devoted to advertising.  That’s 15% of the course material.

Now don’t get me wrong,  Advertising is a really important piece or marketing, for sure.  Advertising is how we get the word out about our product, service, or cause.  But a good strategy for advertising comes as a result of good marketing.

So what is marketing then?

In our ten-week course, we spent a full 5 weeks on different ways to analyze the market.  I spent two years working in marketing at a Fortune 500 chemical company and I spent most of my time analyzing markets.  This is the foundation of marketing—market analysis.

Other aspects of marketing include:

  • Pricing
  • Sales and distribution strategy
  • Branding
  • Advertising

You see marketing is at the core of business.  It’s marketing that dictates business strategy.  It’s market analysis that tells us how much we can charge for our product or service.  It’s that analysis that drives how we sell our products.  How we design our brand and communicate it to potential customers is part of marketing, and how we design that brand is determined by what the market (potential customers) wants.  It’s market analysis that tells us who our target audience is and how to best reach them.  These are key inputs for advertising.

In summary, without good market intelligence, businesses fly blind.

In my experience, it’s a lack of market analysis that keeps a lot of small businesses and start-ups from reaching their potential.  I would argue that it’s one of the top reasons that businesses fail.

So here’s my challenge, do the leg work.  Find out what’s going on in your market space.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • If people don’t use your product, what will they use?  That will tell you who your competition is.
  • Who out there might value your product?  Group these types of people into a few different segments.  Chances are there’s more than one group that wants what you have to offer.
  • What’s trends are picking up and how will they affect your target market segments?
  • What problem does your product solve?
  • How much are people paying for other solutions to the same problem?
  • How do you get your product to people?  Are there other ways to get it in front of them?  (Amazon store in addition to your own web store)
  • What media sources do your target market segments use most?  Which might have the greatest effect for the cost?

If you can answer these questions, I guarantee you that you’ll have a pretty good feel for who to target with your advertising, how to reach them, what price to charge, how to design your brand, and therefore how to sell your products successfully.

After all, that’s what marketing is really all about.

To learn more about advertising check out these other articles on Income School

When Should You Advertise
4 Essentials for Avoiding Dumb Ads

And this article on Business Encyclopedia


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