The VPM Blog

What's the difference between Marketing and Advertising?

Posted by Don Crow on Apr 5, 2017 9:00:00 AM

We seem to be on a food-in-our-blogs kick here at Verge Pipe Media recently, and this article won't be any different. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. I love to eat.
  2. #Foodstagramming makes for some powerful visuals.
  3. You'll notice by the end of this article, the very real struggle of my diet (marketing) combined with my short term behaviors (advertising) have led to a lot of my own confusion on how to get out of this mess.

With St. Patrick's Day behind us, I'm going to use my annual Guinness Shepherd's Pie as a way to descrbie the difference between the age old question, What's the difference between Marketing and Advertising?

don's shepherd's pie.jpg

First of all, you have to know we hear a little of everything at Verge Pipe Media when we discuss or respond to questions about whether we are a marketing or advertising agency.

Typically, they go something along these lines:

Client: We need to get found online, do you help people with that?

VPM: Why yes! As a matter of fact, we are experts at Inbound Marketing which helps drive more traffic to your website, convert more of that traffic into leads, turn those leads into paying customers and finally delight those customers so they'll become online brand advocates for your business.

Client: That's great! We want to run those ads you see on Google.



In other words, the confusion between marketing and advertising is very real. 

In its most basic form, advertising is a tactic (and an important one) in an overall marketing strategy. Period. In my Guinness Shepherd's Pie, advertising would be the Guinness. It's the most recognizeable part to someone who just glances at the menu as well as being the staple ingredient in this version of Shepherd's Pie.


Can you have Guinness Shepherd's Pie without Guinness? Of course! But then it would be false advertising because you've given the person who orders it an expectation they will have genuine, real Guinness used in their pie. Could you just have Shepherd's Pie without the Guinness? Well, only if you're silly. Or Baptist.

There are many, many layers to a great Shepherd's Pie - meat, vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes. It's no different in an effective marketing strategy - it is multi layered.

Marketing is the sum total of your public relations, media planning, product pricing and distribution, sales strategy, customer support, market research and community involvement AS WELL AS advertising.

I saw a recent email from a startup incubator in Atlanta who was promoting one of their members and the text of their promotion said, "....Here's how the app has built a successful fanbase during an Atlanta pilot — without any marketing!"

Do you think the author of this post is confused? Or maybe, just maybe, they're playing on the fact that so many people today don't know the difference between marketing and advertising and this sentence was written to get the reader to click and digest the rest of the article? Because who doesn't want to launch a successful product or service or even business without spending money on marketing?!

Here's the catch. You can't. Marketing is how you respond in email to customers. It's the extra attention to detail you place into the logo design. It's the way your storefront looks, your website operates and how your product makes a consumer feel after they've purchased it. Marketing is everthing and that is what scares most people into ordering a pizza on St. Patrick's Day. The thought of trying something new and thinking about something bigger than themselves is too long term. In a world of instant gratification and easy choices, who wants to invest the time in market research?

Okay, so what does marketing and advertising have to do with my diet?

Because since I started Verge Pipe Media in the summer of 2010, I've been living like a character on that most famous of TV series about Advertising, "Mad Men." Eat what I want, drink what I want, but guess what? Unlike the TV characters, there are very real consequences to my short term thinking and behavior.

Now I have to act like a marketer: make healthy food choices, moderate my intake of things like Guinness, learn to use the weights in the gym again, know my basal metabolic rate and study a lot more about what's in the food I am allowed to actually eat now. Sounds boring and laborious, right? It is, but it is the best long term approach.

You can live and be successful for a period on advertising alone. But, if you're in it for the long haul and expect lasting results over time you've got to learn to live like a marketer.

Do you want to learn more about Inbound Marketing and how to get started? You can always just call or email us, but you can also click the button below and download our FREE checklist on the steps you need to take to start creating a lovable and successful marketing campaign.

creating successful marketing campaigns

photo credit: Ansy Dupiton Shepherds Pie via photopin (license)

photo credit: Viewminder The Pie Eating Contest ~ An American Life via photopin (license)

photo credit: Mr Exploding Three in Gravity via photopin (license)

Topics: Marketing, Advertising

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