Marketing and Advertising are often tied together, yet often confused and sometimes lead to bad business decisions and faulty connotations.
I like to think of the two as this: Marketing is general; Advertising is specific. Marketing encompasses Advertising; Advertising is a subset of Marketing.
Quick test: when someone says the word “Advertising” to you, what do you think of? I would suspect you think of one of the following: A billboard. A TV commercial. An ad on a web page. A subway poster. A lit-up sign on the top of a taxi cab. There are countless more examples, and my list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. But it is meant to make a point.
Advertising, often to the lay person, means spending money without any *real* assurance of getting return on that money. Advertising means deep pockets. Am I right? Now, there are certainly types of direct response advertising, like infomercials or paid Google listings or many other formats, which do not mean the same thing to people. But, in terms of what most people think and connote, advertising means the flashy ads that get tons of exposure, “reaches” (theoretically) millions of people, and costs an arm and a leg.
Unfortunately, the same people who have these misconceptions about advertising equate those very same misconceptions with what we call “Marketing.” Because Advertising, to some, means spending money that may never come back around, the conclusion is subconsciously drawn that this holds true for Marketing as a whole.
And that’s just inaccurate.
I would say a good chunk – not a majority, but let’s put it at a healthy percentage…say, 30% – of business owners or CEO’s I meet think this way. They think advertising means writing a blank check and nothing more. Thinking this way diminishes the highly analytical nature of Marketing as a whole, as well as the key strategic role the discipline plays in any business, because Advertising is arguably the most public “spoke” around the Marketing “hub” and the sexiest. Sure, there are parts of Marketing that are a waste of money (that’s a whole other column). But, most of Marketing is actually a business driver and no longer a luxury but rather a necessity.
This all begs the question: so, if Advertising is a subset of Marketing, what are some other subsets of Marketing? There are many. Online & offline marketing. Search marketing. Social media. Public Relations. Trade marketing. Email marketing. Direct response. Creative Services. Direct Mail. Event Marketing.
Again,this list is not by any means exhaustive. It does show that any good marketing plan has to be multifaceted and that there is so much more to Marketing than Advertising. My thoughts are not meant to belittle the value of a good Ad campaign because, like anything else, it should be considered and looked at depending on your business; but people every single day confuse the two. And confusing them leads to bad decisions that either short-change your business (scaring you out of what I would call “good spend”) or paralyze it (if Marketing is all about spending money and I don’t have any, then I can’t do Marketing – or so the thinking goes).
I will share the exact exercise I do, with my team, for every single business we look at. We jot down every area of marketing that a business may be deficient and ask the question of whether or not we can help them and whether a particular facet of marketing would be most useful and provide the most impact. In other words, we make a matrix. Seriously, it is a matrix and there’s about 75 lines all weaving back and forth in the matrix. Keanu Reeves would be proud. We talk about how every spoke around the Marketing hub is interrelated and works off each other, what spokes are most applicable and where there are holes.
We look closely at spending patterns and where businesses can not only spend more to get more, but where they should cut back to get more. Because part of the great thing about marketing is knowing where and how to spend your money – which is totally doable.
So the next time you’re considering your “Marketing Plan”, please understand that while Advertising and Marketing are closely related, they’re cousins and not brothers or sisters. Advertising campaigns need to have their own plan. Every other aspect of Marketing needs to have their own distinct plan, no doubt.
But rolled up, these individual plans are really all part of a well-oiled, integrated Marketing plan that works together harmoniously.