If you own a small business, one of the most important responsibilities you have is generating business. In an effort to do just that, you need to promote your product or service.
There are a variety of ways to promote a business. Some methods are more creative than others. Most can be categorized under two main headings: marketing and advertising. We’ve all heard those terms thousands of times, but do we really know what they mean? Are they the same or different? Does it really matter? Do they both produce the same results? Can we expect a return on investment from both?
Let’s take a quick pop-quiz… look at the items below and determine if they are marketing or advertising:
- Billboard along the interstate
- Facebook page, Twitter & Instagram posts
- Bi-monthly ad in a local newspaper
- Promoted Facebook posts
- Digital banners on various websites
What do you think…are these examples of marketing or advertising? Well, before we get to the answer, let’s define what marketing and advertising are so we know for sure.
Marketing is the action of finding your target buyer and giving them the experience of your product or service.
How about advertising? What is advertising really? Advertising is exposing your brand. It’s really that simple.
So, now that we have defined the two, let’s take another look at the pop-quiz above. Do all these items allow the target buyer to experience the product or service? No, they do not. Therefore, all the items listed above are examples of advertising. They all expose the brand through different avenues but none of them actually allow a potential customer to experience the product or service directly.
Here are a few examples of ways a current and/or potential customer can experience your product or service:
- A tire company hosts a driving event where dealers drive on the tires and compare them to competitive brands.
- A drink brand offers free samples to shoppers in the grocery store.
- A plumber hosts a demonstration at a home show where he shows attendees how to repair a small pipe leak. Attendees are challenged to try it themselves.
- A local dentist speaks at a Rotary meeting where he explains the latest technology in teeth cleaning.
All of these examples offer customers a chance to experience a product or get to know the personality of the person offering a service. There is much more interaction with these examples than there are with the advertising examples. Remember, marketing is about the experience. Marketing also provides an opportunity to measure your return on investment more accurately than most advertising. It’s a challenge to determine how many sales are directly connected to a billboard along the interstate. However, you can measure how many drinks you sold at the store during the time you shared the free samples.
The reality is, anyone who has a business should spend 50% of their time and effort related to marketing. The administration, product development, invoicing, staff training, sales, etc. should not equal more than 50% of your time and energy so you can spend the additional 50% on marketing.
One last thing to think about when it comes to advertising. Times have changed in a very dramatic way as it relates to the effectiveness of advertising. Take the DVR for instance. Besides recording your favorite shows or games, what do we all love about the DVR? We can skip the commercials!
Are you familiar with Pandora music service? How do they make money? Your first assumption is probably advertising. That is only partially correct. Their main revenue is generated by memberships that allow the listener access to ad-free music.
We now live in a time where the public is willing to spend their hard-earned money to avoid your advertising. On many occasions, ads make us mad. Think about your initial reaction to online pop-up ads. Do you actually click on them and say, “Oh, that’s awesome! Even though you just completely interrupted me and invaded my space, I’ll buy your product now.” No, most of us get upset and now have a negative opinion of that company. Something to think about…
So, back to the original question in the headline. I hope you now have a clearer understanding of what marketing and advertising is and how they do indeed differ from each other.
Photos by James Sutton and Kate Trysh on Unsplash.com