30-Second Summary:

  • Both marketing and advertising are vital functions for a business.

  • Advertising is one part of marketing.

  • Marketing involves the bigger picture and deals with trying to understand and meet customer needs fully.

  • Advertising is more about promoting products with media buying.

  • Many companies use both advertising and marketing to thrive.

The terms “marketing” and “advertising” are often used interchangeably. However, although marketing and advertising are similar, they are not exactly the same. Understanding the differences between marketing and advertising can help you to make better and more informed decisions for your business.

Here is a quick definition of both marketing and advertising. This is a good place to start when you are trying to understand the differences between the two.

Marketing – Marketing is the process of trying to understand the needs of customers and figuring out the best ways to meet those needs.

Advertising – Advertising is the process of promoting products with the goal of generating sales.

So, essentially, marketing is the broader of the two concepts and involves many different things. Advertising is the more narrow of the two and just involves putting products or services in front of customers in an effort to entice them to make purchases.

However, even though marketing and advertising are different, advertising is an area of marketing. So, you can think of advertising as being one of many different functions that marketing is comprised of.

Other functions that marketing might be comprised of include competitor research, market research, identifying customer personas, maintaining customer relationships, social media management, etc.

In order for a company to market effectively, it has to do many things correctly, and advertising is just one of these things. 

The Responsibilities of Marketers

To better understand the differences between marketing and advertising, let’s take a look at five of the most important responsibilities of marketers and advertisers.


Branding is a company’s identity in the market. This can include its logo, its jingle, its motto, its colors, etc. It is how people separate one company from another beyond just products. Marketers are responsible for creating and reinforcing branding. The more brand recognition that marketers can create for their brand, the easier it is to gain market share and win customers.

Trend Analysis

Marketers need to stay on top of trends so that they know how consumer preferences are changing. They also need to know the best way to position the company in the market. Without fully understanding trends that are happening it is very difficult to know how to position the company. So, marketers have to constantly research trends that are relevant to their industry.

Managing Customer Relationships 

Marketers not only have to understand customer needs and how to meet them, but they also have to manage relationships with existing customers so that customers stay happy and continue to remain customers. Marketers manage customer relationships by conducting surveys and interviews with customers to get feedback. The ultimate goal of customer relationship management is to make sure that customers always feel valued and appreciated.

Social Media Management

The vast majority of businesses now have a presence on social media. In fact, over 97% of Fortune 500 companies rely on social media to increase brand awareness and interact with their customers and create engagement.

Competitor Analysis

Marketers have to monitor and analyze the competition constantly. This is because, in order for marketers to price products correctly and position them correctly, they have to be fully aware of what their competitors are doing. So, marketers have to constantly keep track of competitor prices, strategies, and data.

The Responsibilities of Advertisers 

Media Buying 

group of people using mobile gadgets communicating being attracted by social media app

Advertisers have to figure out where media channels are the best to buy advertising space. These could be social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, it could be television networks, it could be newspapers, etc. Advertisers have to analyze data to figure out where they should buy advertising space and then they have to complete the purchase on a regular basis. 

Production of Advertisements 

Not only do advertisers have to buy the actual media, but they have to create and produce the advertisements as well. These could simple text-based social media ads, they could be 30-second video ads, they could be billboards, etc. 

Customer Analysis 

In order to figure out which media channels to advertise in, which people to advertise to, and how much to spend, advertisers have to do extensive customer research. This means looking at data, speaking to customers, asking them to fill out surveys, etc. 

Designing and Pitching Advertising Strategies 

Before the ads can even be placed, advertisers have to design and pitch advertising strategies. These strategies are pitched either to clients to in-house to the key decision makers at the company who controls the ad budget. 

Monitoring of Ad Performance 

Website loading optimization Page speed and SEO Flat vector concept illustration

Advertisers have to keep careful track of the performance of every single ad that they place. This is because in order to optimize advertising budgets, poor-performing ads have to be canceled and high-performing ads have to be prioritized and replicated. 

Do Companies Need Both Marketing and Advertising? 

Yes, companies should strive to have both marketing and advertising teams. However, for some small companies, it might not be possible to have both. In this case, some employees might have to do both the advertising and the marketing functions. 

But, if your company is large enough to have a budget for both a marketing and an advertising team, then it should definitely have both. Having both a marketing and an advertising team will give your company the best chance of being able to properly understand your customers’ needs and attract and retain customers through effective advertising and customer engagement. 

The advertising team should work closely with the marketing team and it should actually be considered to be one part of the overall marketing team. Advertisers and marketers should share data with each other and work together to create optimal results. 

Because advertising involves media buying, it is typically one of the most expensive areas of marketing. In fact, advertising is often one of a company’s largest expenses overall. So, your company should be prepared to spend a significant amount of money on advertising if you are going to use advertising to promote your business. 

Inbound Marketing Vs. Advertising/Outbound Marketing

Comparison between inbound and outbound marketing, on-line and offline

Thanks to the rise of the internet and social media, inbound marketing has become increasingly popular. Inbound marketing is the process of drawing in customers organically as opposed to displaying an advertisement in front of them or reaching out to the customers. When a business reaches out to customers, it is known as “outbound marketing.” Advertising is a form of outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing involves creating clickable content and publishing that content on a company’s website, on its social media pages, or elsewhere in order to either educate or entertain potential customers. The goal of inbound marketing is to “attract, engage, and delight” customers so that they automatically become more interested in your brand. 

Many companies have started designating more and more of their advertising/marketing budgets to inbound marketing because it has proven to be a highly effective means of generating leads and sales and in many cases, it is also cheaper. 

Here are some impressive statistics for inbound marketing: 

  • Inbound marketing produces 54% more leads than outbound marketing 
  • The average cost per lead drops 80% after five months of consistent inbound marketing 
  • Properly executed inbound marketing is 10 times more effective for lead conversion than outbound marketing 

However, although inbound marketing has some impressive statistics, that doesn’t mean that your company should only focus on inbound marketing. In fact, many companies use a blend of inbound and outbound marketing strategies in order to create an ideal marketing strategy. 

When your company is creating a marketing strategy, you should include both inbound and outbound techniques. Then you should put the strategy into action and see what kind of results that you get. Once you start seeing results, it should be relatively easy to see which marketing/advertising methods are working the best. Then, you can double down on those and scale back the ones that are not working. 

Inbound marketing techniques that you can use include: 

  • Blogging 
  • YouTube channel 
  • Social media posting 
  • Articles 

Outbound marketing/advertising techniques that you can use include: 

  • PPC ads 
  • Television ads 
  • Billboards 
  • Newspaper ads 


Marketing and advertising are closing linked, but they are not the same. Understanding the differences between marketing and advertising can help you to grow your business in the most efficient way possible. When you are trying to remember the differences between marketing and advertising just remember that marketing has a much broader scope and entails a lot more functions than advertising. 

Advertising mostly entails promoting products through media buying. Marketing, on the other hand, is the process of trying to fully understand the customers’ needs and preferences and creating elaborate strategies to meet these needs through a variety of different techniques. 

When you create your overall marketing strategy, it should include advertising as one of its features. All marketing and advertising strategies should be based on data. Data is crucial to optimizing both marketing and advertising efforts. Data can be collected from social media, company websites, advertisements, etc. Ultimately, data can help you to understand your customers better so that you can better position, price, and promote your products.