Advertising practices date back as early as the 1700s, when the first real estate ad was placed in a newspaper. Marketing is thought to have existed since the beginning of time in some form, but started evolving in 20-years cycles post World War II.

Neither concepts are new, that much is obvious. So why do companies still have a hard time differentiating the two in 2017?

The line between marketing and advertising was bound to blur at some point. Shrinking budgets and new ways to connect with audiences mean employees are wearing multiple hats to ensure business can keep going. Marketing departments begin absorbing advertising responsibilities to cut costs. Even sales and marketing are now interchanged more often than they used to be.

In spite of this sales/marketing/advertising musical chairs, it’s important to realize that advertising is NOT marketing, and marketing is NOT sales, regardless of who is handling what.

Companies would do well to take note the similarities and differences between the two if you want to get the biggest ROI for your efforts.

Marketing vs.Advertising – What’s the Difference?

Nowadays, it seems like you can’t venture out of bed without seeing an advertisement for something. They’re everywhere! From ads on social media or in apps to announcers interrupting your morning routine while listening to Pandora, most folks are exposed to dozens of ads before they even leave the house each day.

However, these ads don’t just happen by accident. For savvy companies, these ads exist only because of well-planned marketing strategies that place those specific ads in specific channels at specific times. You could say that marketing is the magical force pulling the strings behind every advertisement you encounter.

Simply put, advertisements are promotions for products or services for a company. Ads are often created around a central goal or message that is intended for a specific audience. However, for an ad to do its job, it’s up to marketing to decide who the ad should target, where it should be placed, and what it should say.

The Role of Human Nature in Marketing and Advertising

Advertising is a huge part of marketing’s responsibility, but it’s not the only responsibility. Marketing also encompasses branding and targeting, as well as managing the perceptions that result from them.

If you’re still having a hard time defining the ultra-fine line between marketing and advertising, you might need to look no further than how human nature affects each one.

For marketing to be successful, it relies on things like data, facts, and logic to create a strategy. The focus here is less on hunches and more on substantial evidence that it will work.

Advertising, however, uses creativity, cleverness, and artistry to get its message across via whatever strategy you’ve crafted. Advertising’s sole purpose is to promote a specific product or service, and often relies on design elements and witty copy to communicate its value to others. Logic and data are used to initiate the creative side, but in a way that’s obscured from the viewer, leaving nothing but a memorable message in place for them to enjoy.

As consumers, we’re often intrigued by eye-catching visuals, addicting tunes, or other attention-grabbing components. Focusing on data alone is, as MarketingLand’s Peter Minnium suggests, like clapping with one hand. You need both hard cold facts (the marketing side) and bursting creativity (the advertising part) to create a successful campaign. Neither will be nearly as effective without the other.

Combining the Strengths of Advertising and Marketing

Although advertising plays but a small role in marketing’s big picture, marketing’s success is often determined by its advertising.  If you want to see that success thrive to its highest potential, you need to clean up your marketing before advertising can do its job.

Start by defining your unique selling proposition (USP). In other words, what makes your company different, and why do these differences matter to your customers? You might have the lowest prices, or you’ve been in business longer than your competitors. It might be your rapid turnaround times or your ability to tailor every experience to the individual’s needs.

Try to avoid using generics like customer service and friendly, knowledgeable staff. At this point, those are expectations people have of every company, not differentiating factors (unless you’re Nordstrom or, of course). Make sure that whatever you tout as your bread and butter, you do it better than anyone else, and have made it difficult for others to copy.

Once you decide what you’re great at, make sure you communicate those features in your advertising. True, you’re promoting products and services in your ads, but your creative should speak for itself on why people should do business with you.

If you inject your brand voice in every ad and place it in front of the right people, advertising and marketing become one unstoppable, profit-building force.

Author: Ben Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Ghost Bloggers, a boutique writing agency focusing on helping small business clients take their websites to the next level. From social media topics to articles on niche industry issues, NoStop’s articles are written with style, attention to detail, and with the client’s audience in mind.