Marketing and advertising are closely related terms. Many people do not care about being strict about their distinction. So, the two terms are often used as if they are synonymous. The American Marketing Association defined marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Advertising, on the other hand, has been described as “a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea.”

From the above definitions, it is clear that advertising is a component of marketing. There is what is popularly known as the 4Ps of the marketing mix. These are the aspects that represent the broad traditional levels of marketing decisions, stated as product, price, promotion, and place. The aspect of promotion can be further analyzed into four elements namely: advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, and publicity (public relations).

Further to understanding the difference between marketing and advertising, it is also important to understand the difference between advertising and the other elements of promotion as well as other variables of marketing such as branding.

Aspects of the marketing mix

These are the basic tools that can be used by marketers to successfully deliver their products and services to the market. They are the basis of marketing management, and they can be described as follows:

  1. Product: this aspect deals with the actual specification of various goods and services and the way they relate to the needs and wants of the final consumer. Product entails product design, new product development, branding, packaging, labeling among others. Its scope can be extended to cover such supporting elements as warranties or guarantees and other support such as after-sales services.
  2. Price: this aspect is about the process of determining a price for a product. The process takes into consideration costs, profit margin, and discounts. The price determined may or may not be monetary. Price is the sacrifice that a buyer makes in order to obtain a product or service for the satisfaction of their needs.
  3. Place: this aspect entails the distribution of a product or service to a location where it can be accessed conveniently by customers. The various distribution channels are made up of many types of intermediaries such as wholesalers, retailers, and agents. The term place is also used to refer to the geographic region where the product or service is sold.
  4. Promotion: this aspect considers all elements of marketing communication. They are commonly referred to as the promotional mix, and they include advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, and publicity or public relations.

Elements of the promotional mix

These are the tools that marketers use to communicate to their target customers:

  1. Advertising: this is a form of marketing communication that uses paid impersonal messages to promote a product, service or idea to target customers. It aims at persuading customers to choose the advertiser’s product over that of a competitor. It may also assist in reassuring stakeholders that the company is viable. The advertiser’s message is designed purposefully for promotion and it is not intended for any particular customer. The advertisement is passed through different types of mass media such as radio, newspapers, television, magazines, direct mail, blogs, social media, websites, and text messages.
  2. Sales promotion: this element of promotional mix employs both media and non-media marketing messages to either stimulate demand in the market or increase product awareness. This form of marketing promotion is used for a limited period of time and it may be directed to customers, sales staff or members of a distribution channel. The chosen sales promotion communication activities are aimed at adding value or incentives to the target market so as to stimulate interest, trial or purchase. This form of promotion is driven by the need to attract new customers, to keep current customers or to counteract competitors. Examples of sales promotion methods in common use include the use of coupons, prize-winning competitions, use of discount vouchers, use of free gifts, point of sale materials, and use of loyalty cards.
  3. Personal selling: this form of promotion is also referred to as direct selling or face-to-face selling. It involves a sales representative meeting with a potential client so as to transact a sale. The sales representative needs good interpersonal skills so as to persuade customers to buy their product. The primary purpose of this selling technique is to achieve a sale. It also creates awareness about the product on offer. The technique can be carried out through two alternative channels – by involving retailers (one level channel) or by selling direct to final consumers (zero level channel).

Personal selling is a process that entails the following steps:

  1. Prospecting – identifying prospective or potential customers.
  2. Qualifying leads – determining whether the prospective customers are genuine.
  3. Pre-approach – preparing for a sales presentation: it involves such tasks as customer research, goal planning, scheduling an appointment.
  4. Approach – sales representative meets the customer.
  5. Need assessment – The sales representative evaluates the customer based on their need for the product.
  6. Sales presentation – sales representative does product demonstrations and presentations that reveal the features, advantages, and benefits of the product on offer.
  7. Handling objections – being ready to deal with objections, concerns or any questions arising from the presentation in a respectful manner.
  8. Closing – sales representative seeks to gain the customer’s commitment and close the sale once he or she feels that the prospect is ready.
  9. Follow-up – sales representative does a follow-up after selling. This enhances customer satisfaction and it helps in establishing a good relationship with the customer.
  10. Publicity – this promotional technique is a form of public relations. It is about moving commercial information from media to the general public. It entails striving to get public visibility and creating awareness for a product or service or even for a company through some media. The publicity may be about people, goods, services, organizations or other things of commercial interest. For instance, you can get publicity from a positive comment made by a customer who is satisfied with the use of your product or from a media interview about your product. It is generally any free material available in the media.

The terms marketing, advertising, and promotion are generally very close in nature. To avoid possible confusion, there is a need to consider the difference between various forms of commercial mass communications as follows:

  1. Difference between advertising and publicity

Whereas advertising describes a set of events or activities that have been designed to draw attention to a product, service or idea, publicity on the other hand supplies the public with information about the same product, service or idea. In advertising, the advertiser pays for the message and has control over it, while in publicity the promotional message is neither paid for nor controlled by any person, organization or agent.

  1. Difference between marketing and advertising and sales

Marketing is a broad function that determines the kind of products or services consumers want, how they would want to get them, how to get the word out about them, and how they should be priced. Advertising is that part of marketing concerning “getting the word out” about the product or service. Sales refer to the tail end of marketing that concerns closing the deal. It entails making efforts to convince the customer that everything about the offer is right.

  1. Difference between marketing and advertising and branding

Marketing, advertising, and branding are all techniques that can help you promote your products and services. The use of the techniques can enable you to acquire, retain, and increase customers, sales, and profits. The techniques are closely related in purpose and they tend to complement one another. A clear understanding of each one of them enables you to enhance the effectiveness of their use. Marketing entails all strategies for building awareness of your products and services in the market. Advertising is a component of marketing focused on getting customers and improving sales. Branding is a component of marketing that identifies your product or service and relates your business ideals with customers’ desires and beliefs. You create a brand using name, logo, trademark, color scheme, and other symbols of identity.

  1. Difference between advertising and promotion

Advertising is an element of promotion, and promotion is an element of marketing. Advertising is undertaken in order to build a brand image and to increase sales in the long-term. Promotion is mainly used to boost sales over a short-term period. This distinction also applies to the difference between advertising and sales promotion.

There is no doubt that marketing and advertising are two disciplines that stir the business word. A lot of effort has been invested in them to an extent than many people do not care to understand their differences. If you ask 10 business people to distinguish the two terms, you will probably get 10 different responses. However, it is important to note that the terms are not synonymous. Marketing is the overall function that encompasses advertising and other variables of promotion.