What is the difference between advertising and marketing?

Many people believe that advertising and marketing are interchangeable words. There is, in fact, a big difference.

Advertising is about brand creation and communication. Marketing delivers those brands to market. A brand strategy is all about the style and tone of brand personality and is based on feelings and perceptions, which is hard to quantify but is all about quality. A marketing strategy is about numbers, logistics and reach, and is easily and directly measurable.

  • Combine quality and quantity for success

Of course, these two need to be done in logical sequence. If you are embarking on a marketing strategy without a brand strategy, what exactly are you taking to market and how do people feel about what they are seeing, reading, hearing and experiencing?

You may be reaching vast numbers of people who do, in fact, recoil when they see your brand name and its associated style and values. They are not likely to tell you this, but it will be reflected in your brand equity over time.

Of course, small business can rarely afford to employ a full service advertising agency, and are thus reliant on marketing agencies to create brands for them.

  • The emergence of the digital agency

A digital agency often offers both advertising and marketing at an affordable rate for smaller or medium business, but it’s important that they are able to deliver what they claim.

Even if you don’t distinguish between the two terms, what should a digital agency that offers both advertising and marketing in one package be able to provide?

  • A clearly defined brand strategy

It is unlikely that you started your business without a plan. A brand strategy is one cornerstone of your overall business strategy. It does not contain numbers.

This document should describe your existing or potential customers in detail. It is based on research and understanding of their likes and dislikes, their attitudes and motivations, their values and aspirations. It then places your brand in this context and describes the perceptual positioning of your brand, including style and image, tone and attitude, content and communication guidelines.

  • A measurable marketing strategy

This follows on from a business plan and brand strategy. Your marketing strategy and tactics are flexible and fluid, they can change according to data, technology, trends and campaign success. This strategy must be quantifiable and include numbers, reach and ROI. Direct and measurable reporting is essential.

When choosing a digital agency to partner with your business to launch, establish or grow your brand, find out if they understand and apply the respective strategies, their roles and place within your business strategy. Do they employ a mature brand strategist and does this person have the depth of experience to write a brand strategy that will inform your current and future business marketing activity?