By Kristy Sturgill • April 3, 2018

Marketing vs Advertising: Why Exposure is No Longer the Goliath


What was the last commercial you saw on TV? What billboard did you read on your way to work? How about the last magazine or website you browsed, who was selling products on the platform? These questions are tough because, well, we don’t care. We don’t listen to these messages because we don’t have time.

Aside from a good advertisement during the Superbowl, these messages don’t play a massive role in our life. Or, at least not in the way they used to. When we add together all the information we consume in a single day, you could see between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements. But, do you remember all of them? Chances are that you don’t.

If you’re running a business, marketing vs. advertising  can feel overwhelming. How could you possibly reach your audience if no one cares to listen to your message when you post on social media, in the local news or online? If advertising isn’t the Goliath you need to defeat to grow your business, then what is?

The answer is simple: a balanced inbound marketing approach to sharing your story, listening to customers and attracting visitors rather than yelling from the tallest billboard.

PIe Chart

Wait, Isn’t Advertising and Marketing the Same Thing?

Advertising and marketing are often used interchangeably. However, advertising is just a slice of marketing, and marketing is a much bigger process which includes multiple strategies designed to bring buyers and sellers together.

In previous decades, the marketing budget was heavily invested in advertising. So, when people said “marketing,” they also meant “advertising.” But, so much has changed thanks to today’s technology.

Now, advertising has taken a smaller role in most marketing plans, but why?

Finding vs

Attracting vs. Finding

Advertising is about telling everyone about your brand, mission and products or services. It's about pushing your message out to the general public or targeted audiences. Advertisements focus on your businesses.

Marketing has taken a turn from finding customers by telling them about you, to attracting customers by offering solutions to their problems. The difference is the spotlight. If your brand is the protagonist in the story, then you’re advertising. If your customers are the protagonist in the story, you’re marketing.

Finding customers is less about posting your message in newspapers, buying commercials or creating another advertisement, and more about engaging with your customers and initiating meaningful conversations.


Listening vs. Talking

Shhhhh. Your customers are talking to you. They are sharing their problems everywhere, but are you listening? They’re online, in your store and on your social media pages telling you all about their pain points.

Advertisements are about talking - a lot and everywhere. Companies spend a lot of money to communicate to customers on various platforms, but marketing is about listening. When you put down the megaphone and sit with your target audience, you’ll have the chance to learn how to better serve your customers.


Helping vs. Selling

“Helping is the new selling” is a pretty popular saying now because it’s true. Your customers don’t care about your products or services unless you make it relevant to their lives and solve their problems.

There was a time when salespeople held all the information, and customers had to go to them to get it. But, that’s no longer the case. Information is everywhere and pretty easy to access. So, how are you helping your customers find information?

Are you writing about your products? Do you provide honest information about positive and negative attributes? Most importantly, are you clear on your pricing structure? This information can be scary to hand over. In fact, sometimes it can seem counter intuitive.

If you tell your customers exactly how you can help solve their problem, won’t they just solve it themselves with their new knowledge? Probably not. In fact, they’ll trust you because they know if you can explain your process to them in a way they understand, then they know you have a good product or a great service.


Is Advertising Over?

No. Advertising still has an important role in your business. However, it no longer dominates the space of attracting customers. Instead, buyers take a more involved path to your products and services.

There are, however, some wildly effective advertising strategies you can employ to get the most out of your time and money.

  • Invest in Facebook advertising.
  • Sponsor local events or city maps.
  • Create a targeted Adwords campaign.
  • Buy neat swag like branded water bottles (or other useful items).
  • Most importantly, be creative.

Everybody knows an advertisement when they see one. If you’re going to spend money, make sure its something people will remember or care about. When you advertise online, you can be really specific about who you’re targeting, which ensures your advertisements are reaching people who’ll find your message relevant.

When you advertise offline, target platforms and places your audience is likely to visit. Hands down, the best outlook is one of quality and not quantity when it comes to a good advertising campaign.

Advertising lost its top space in the realm of growing your business. Instead, an inbound approach is more robust and uses a variety of marketing strategies, not just ads.

What’s next? Do you want to learn more about inbound methodology? Download our free ebook to learn more about this new type of agency, and what you need to do to grow your business in 2018.