There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding advertising and marketing. They are two different terms each describing two different, yet essential roles in building your business. Consistently done, both will help you stimulate sales. But you need to understand, and to some extent, implement both to be successful.
Marketing is the big picture. It is the overall plan, your detailed strategy to promote your goods and services. It involves things like research to identify your market, public relations, brand awareness, customer retention, and appreciation, as well as community and service involvement. Marketing includes ongoing visibility for what you do.
Advertising is one piece of your marketing strategy usually taking the form of a specific message ideally directed to your target market. Its goal is to stimulate a purchase.
The buzzword around all this is usually Return on Investment (ROI) statistics. Meaning, you invest money in doing something, and in turn you want to see that pay off in sales. This important thing is both hard and easy to measure, depending on your yardstick to do so.
Some will purchase an ad somewhere and shortly after that see an increase in sales and say “hey, that was a good ROI.” But was it? If you haven’t done your marketing homework, you might never know, and you might have a hard time in repeating it.
Remember the keyword about advertising is that it is “one piece.” If you have no marketing strategy, you can run advertising all day long, and although you might see a small blip of short-term return of sales, it won’t last. Advertising should be a strategic investment made as a part of a larger marketing goal, or it is a fast waste of money and resources. There is no easy answer. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Coca-Cola is a great example to show the difference between advertising and marketing. When you head to the vending machine, they make the pictures of a cold glass of Coke with ice and popping carbonation bubbles look incredibly appetizing. There might be a beautiful woman or a handsome man pouring some Coke into a glass (again with the ice) to make it very appealing, while also appetizing. This is an excellent advertisement. Through this imaging, it seems you HAVE to have a Coke.
Coke, as a brand is also consistent with marketing. In addition to traditional “advertising,” they sponsor events and are visible through various marketing avenues. Coke is also a big user of promotional products. Seeing just the Coke logo on back side of a t-shirt at a charity baseball game, or on a banner at an art festival somewhere isn’t going to have the same effect as seeing a larger than life cold Coke image on the front of a vending machine on a hot summer day. But it does remind you that Coke is investing in important events, some of which may be important to you. That reinforces their brand in your mind.
When I was in the Army, someone would say, “I’m gonna go get a Coke; anyone else want one?” If someone indicated that they did want one, the next question was something like, “What kind of Coke do you want?” It is this way in many places in the southern US. The word Coke is meant to reflect a cool, refreshing drink (soda, pop, or soft drink in places) and one must dig further to find out if the kind of Coke you want is Mountain Dew, Sprite, or is in fact, Coke.
Coke is such a known and used term that it has not only become a pseudonym for a carbonated beverage, but it was also the standard by which all others are judged. That is marketing – good marketing. Advertising offers short-term visibility, while marketing builds longevity that leads to purchases.
If a company has the tools to track where a sale comes from, they can evaluate what advertisement stimulated a purchase. It’s our experience, however, that most companies do not have their order desk or customer service rep ask why a someone is placing an order with them. There is no way to know where the business is coming from. This makes it difficult to determine the impact of advertising or marketing campaigns.
Business may come because the client has a previous relationship, or the buyer knows the company has the product they need. They may have found you via a search engine. These days, online forums are a valuable resource.
Statistics, when available, can be helpful. But what do the statistics tell us? What is a good result from advertising or marketing? Scans at a trade show? Clicks to an E-Blast? What rings the cash register?
Advertising and marketing can be challenging to track. And if you can’t track it, or validate it at the point of purchase, how can you recognize your ROI?
We believe “advertising” is putting your product in front of prospects with the goal of stimulating a sale. “Marketing” is an ongoing function...creating awareness for your products or services that lead to sales. As noted, both are important.
Advertising and marketing are critical to the success of any business. In today’s marketplace without being able to effectively communicate your value proposition and define why someone wants to do business with you, your company will be in the same boat as TAB, Teem or Shasta. We may remember them from our childhood with great fondness, but when we see them on the shelf, we still buy the Coke.
There can be a tendency to stop all advertising and marketing because there is no visible “ROI” for all the reasons mentioned. The key, however, is to be consistently visible, so you are top of mind when a buyer is ready to buy. That does come with a cost, but there also is a price to be paid for the lost business.
Advertising vs. Marketing. There is no contest. Both are winners!