Not generating the market leads you expected? Here’s how your business can better reach its target market

Marketing and advertising are two terms that are often confused as being the same. This is because they share the goal of promoting a product or service to increase business performance. However, despite their similarities, their differences are significant. If one platform is confused with another, businesses are not able to fully maximise their power in combination and instead, limit their ability to achieve their shared goal.

You’re not alone in your confusion. These platforms are interchanged all the time. So, while this can come as bad news at first, if you educate yourself on the difference between marketing and advertising, you will be able to improve your business’s engagement in ways that other businesses have not yet realised.

What is advertising?

Just as its name suggests, ‘advertising’ involves the creation of advertisements for commercial products or services. As we are surrounded by ads, most consumers will be familiar with the many forms they can take. For example, whether they are paid or unpaid, out-of-home on bus benches, or strategically placed in mailboxes or over the Internet, methods of advertising are non-exhaustive and always evolving. In other words, businesses are finding more and more ways to increase their recognition by prospective consumers.

But advertising is only one component of the overall marketing process. It is a method of executing marketing that is direct and involves clear communication of a business’s messages to its target markets. Advertisements come in many formats but are generally made through public mediums such as newspapers, magazines, electronic mail, billboards, TV, radio and online. Nearly all ads are openly sponsored and consist of a non-personal message clearly promoting or selling a product.

So what is marketing?

While marketing also aims to promote the buying or selling of a product or service and advertising is one of the ways a company can do that, marketing is the overarching process that involves the control of a mix of activities. In other words, advertising is one of the many methods that marketing coordinates to draw consumers in and encourage sales.

For example, apart from advertising, marketing can also include market research, media planning, public relations, community relations, customer support and sales strategy. Therefore, while advertising is the most direct marketing tool, it is important that business owners do not confuse this to mean it is the only or most important kind of marketing tool. To successfully achieve its business goals, an owner must utilise and coordinate a number of these processes.

Why is knowing the difference important?

As businesses need exposure to draw customers, advertising is automatically pursued by them. However, what is sometimes missed, especially when advertising is confused as the only style of marketing, is that every company should be using marketing and advertising together in the form of a marketing plan. This allows a company to refer to its business goals and from those goals, select marketing tools that will most efficiently promote its business (including but not limited to advertising). If these activities can be harmoniously implemented, then a business can maximise its chances in creating market leads and reaching its target audiences.

For more insight on why or how a company should use a mix of tools to achieve marketing objectives, you should visit our earlier blog on marketing plans and why every business should have one. But for now, the most important thing to understand is advertising is only one slice of the marketing pie and not the only process to be used to effectively promote a business.

Not looking at the way your business communicates to its target market from a top-level perspective? Feel like a lack of strategy might be holding back your advertising from being successful?