Marketing vs. Advertising: What strategy is right for you?


For many people, advertising is thought of as the major way in which you get the word out about your products, services, and brand name. But 28% of marketing and sales managers are shifting their budgets away from advertising alone and more towards inbound marketing. In this post we will break down the differences between these two concepts and help you figure out the best strategy for your business.

What’s the difference between marketing and advertising?

Marketing is everything that a business does to encourage the exchange of products and services between consumer and company. Advertising is just one small piece of that pie. In a well-rounded marketing plan, you have market research, public relations, and community involvement as well as advertising.

But there is another difference to explore specifically when looking at the strategy of inbound marketing vs traditional advertising. Nowadays content is king, and with inbound marketing you create valuable content that brings people toward your company rather than fighting for their attention in the public arena. Various forms of pull marketing – blogs, SEO, social media, etc. – gives consumers awareness of your brand and brings them to you. This is based on permission – communicating via the mediums that your audience has given you permission, whether that’s via an email list or social media accounts.

Advertising fits in the more traditional area of outbound marketing. This is the typical idea of marketing that you might think of – radio, tv, newspapers, billboards, etc. Outbound marketing is based on interruption, finding a large medium where your audience might be and interrupt with disassociated ads.

So when should I advertise?

There has been a definite shift away from spending a large portion of your marketing budget on advertising. But that doesn’t mean that advertising can’t be a valuable tool in your arsenal – if it’s the appropriate time. In order to figure out an advertising strategy, follow these basic principles on when to advertise.

1. When it’s part of your overall marketing plan

As with any marketing, you don’t want your advertising to be a one off shot in the dark. Use advertising as one of the tools of a well-researched plan based off of market research. It’s essential that you take the time to figure out the right message and the right channels in which to deliver it.

2. When you can reach your target market

Don’t advertise unless the media outlet reaches a group of people that are primarily within your target market. Otherwise you are spending money to reach a group of people who aren’t even likely to become customers. For example, if your target market is millennials, you would be better off spending your money on digital marketing versus advertising in newspapers or radio ads.

3.  When you’re building your brand awareness.

In order to get your name out there, it’s good to invest in the right kind of traditional advertising to build awareness of your company. Particularly if you are a new business or in a new location, advertising can be used to promote your company (not your products).

4. When you’re making a good investment.

Bottom line – your advertising needs to more than pay for itself. If you’ve done your research, you will be able to spend your money where it will do the most good and generate enough sales and profit to be a good investment of your marketing budget.

What’s the take away?

Bottom line – while budgets are shifting towards inbound and “pull” marketing, advertising can still be a part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. Incorporate advertising into a well-researched plan only if it’s a good option for your business and if you get the best bang for your buck.

Looking to start creating a strategic marketing plan? We can help you get started – contact us today.


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