Marketing vs. Advertising – Context Matters

A while back, I made some claims about marketing and advertising that didn’t sit well with Mark Buckshon, of Construction Marketing Ideas and president of The Construction News and Report Group of Companies. Clearly, Mark is much more knowledgeable and experienced in the world of design and construction marketing than I am. Does that mean my points are not valid? I don’t think so. For that reason, I wanted to revisit the topic.

Let’s start with some basic definitions:

  • Marketing – According to Wikipedia, marketing “is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development.”
  • Advertising – According to Wikipedia, advertising “is a form of communication used to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services.”

Based on these simple broad definitions, marketing has to do with the overall strategy of selling products and services, whereas advertising is a means to facilitate those sales. In other words, advertising is a subset of marketing.

Earlier this week, David Meerman Scott (whom I’ve written about before) wrote a post entitled, “Marketing is not Advertising“. In the post he references a recent publication by Forrester Research which implies in the executive summary, that marketing and advertising may be interchangeable terms. Mr. Scott “violently disagrees” with this viewpoint. His main contention is that the internet enables companies to build direct relationships with clients/consumers, which is “more than just a check box that you can spend advertising dollars on.”

What’s The Point?

via NCDOTCommunications

Advertising is a tool. Just as technology is a tool, and so is a backhoe. But without a plan, or strategy, a tool is meaningless. Context matters. How will this tool be used?

Good marketing strategy provides context. Whether the tools are content, advertising, social media, direct mail, etc., the most important consideration is how that tool will be used in terms of the overall strategic goals for the company. Without a solid marketing strategy, advertising is irrelevant. When Mark Buckshon responded to my “attack” on advertising he wrote the following:

“On one level, I feel the ‘ouch’ as our business continues to earn 99 per cent of its revenue from advertising sales — but I appreciate the fact that delivering real value to our advertisers is far more than the ink on paper (or pixels on the website) — in part, it is in delivering enough supplementary resources to ensure that the advertising dollars prove to be an effective investment; and free, practical and effective marketing consulting certainly meets that standard.” [emphasis added]

What Buckshon offers clients is not just advertising space. He is offering context by helping clients to understand how advertising might fit within their overall marketing strategy.

Context matters.

Image courtesy NCDOTCommunications