The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising


While they might seem similar, there’s a BIG difference.

We’ve all heard the saying “You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle,” and that’s a perfect way of explaining marketing versus advertising. Marketing is “the sizzle.” It’s the stuff that makes your product or service offering what it is and entices your customers. Advertising is more of “the steak.” It is the product or service offering you have that you want to get in front of your customer, which may or may not be unique. Without the steak, you have no sizzle, but without the sizzle, you’ll never sell your steak. Marketing is where you engage your audience showing them what they need to know to understand why your product is the right choice for them. While marketing and advertising are often thought of as the same thing, that’s not accurate. Marketing and advertising work together, but it is critical to understand the difference in order to make informed business choices.

What is Marketing, Really?

There’s enough to say about it that our whole blog might barely scratch the surface. Marketing is the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. Put simply, it’s everything you are doing to help grow your business whether you realize you’re marketing or not. When you really break it down, marketing is finding the “market” you want your product in front of and getting it there however you can (this includes but isn’t limited to advertising).

You might think of the relationships you’re building and the trade shows you’re attending as just “part of the job” but this is the boots-on-ground marketing it takes to make a business successful! The connections you make and the seeds you plant with your potential audience are key to your success. At the end of the day, consumers don’t buy from brands they don’t know and trust. So, your marketing efforts should be positioned around building awareness of and trust for your growing brand.

How to Utilize Advertising Correctly

From a distance, it often feels like all you need to do is advertise your product, and customers will buy it. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Advertising is simply a part of your marketing strategy. It should complement your bigger picture strategy and provide key information to your potential customers along their buyer’s journey. It should not be your only source of marketing, especially if you’re launching a brand new business.

Use advertising as a way to reach more people and take the place of those face-to-face conversations at trade shows or conferences, for example, if you’re not able to attend. Advertising should work similarly to how you develop a professional relationship with a new client. You first tell them about yourself and your company and why you do what you do. And then, only if they seem interested, you move on to telling them more about your product or service. This is the exact approach you want to use with the advertisements you’re creating. You don’t want to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, create different advertisements that engage potential customers at multiple touchpoints along their buyer’s journey.

The main thing to remember here is that marketing can be accomplished and your brand can grow without ever doing any advertising. However, to achieve optimal success, you want to utilize a marketing strategy that incorporates a targeted advertising strategy. This ad strategy should complement your big picture goals and highlight key takeaways at optimal times to match your customers’ buyer’s journey.

Where is your business with marketing? If you would like to learn how to apply this idea to your business’ sales strategy, you can schedule a learning session with us here.