The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising

Joined at the hip, these twins — marketing and advertising — couldn’t be more different. Technically speaking, they are two solutions to the same problem, two tools for the same job per-say. But, when used effectively, you can get the best of both worlds and access both sides of your customer's brain.


Remembering vs. Finding

The easiest way to separate advertising and marketing is to think about the end result when the two disciplines applied are successfully.

  • Marketing is designed to make you easy to find, easy to reach, easy to buy. It’s a science more than an art. It’s numbers and data, strategies and tactics, all working to maximize your chances of a customer making a purchase. It’s optimizing your website for search engines, sales strategies, pricing strategies. This is why people get MBA’s in marketing, it’s complex stuff.

  • Advertising, on the other hand is a bit more subjective, a bit more right brain. It’s the long-haired, guitar playing brother of the suit and tie sibling that is marketing. Where marketing is talking to when you’re looking to be talked to, advertising is asking a lot: it’s speaking to you when you’re not looking to be spoken to. Social, digital, broadcast, all these things are campaigns. There’s a creative idea, a story or a twist on something that hopefully resonates. This idea flows through the campaign and the medium the campaign occupies.


Marketing will make sure you’re found when a customer searches. Advertising makes sure they remember what to search.  

Why You Need Both

Having one without the other is like having a bridge with no road or path across it; it’s just a lot of work for nothing. Marketing and advertising need each other, and they work better together than they do apart.

If you’re running a great advertising campaign, and you haven’t optimized your pricing you’re losing them at the final yard. Why do all that work just to stop short? Conversely, if you’re running an amazing pricing campaign and you haven’t put together a great strategy, then all you’ve done is draw them in just for them to say “meh”.