Several weeks ago, I was invited to attend a business networking event where most of the participants were from the accounting and financial industry. When asked about what I do for a living, my answer was: marketing.

I was quite surprised to hear that for most of the participants, marketing was a synonym for advertising. After the event, I shared my observation with some of my friends who are also active in marketing and they confirmed they experienced the same. Hence this post!

Let’s go back to our school days.

Advertising is a small component of the marketing process.

According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Advertising is defined by paid activities with the purpose to communicate, promote or sell products and activities. Obviously, advertising has some components that are part of your marketing strategy, however, it is just one of the tools. It is very important to make this differentiation, especially for startups and small companies, considering advertising involves money and budgets are limited.

Marketing represents all your activities and actions of communicating with your audience. For example, in your day-to-day activities, marketing is composed of the following actions:

  • Your company website. It can be a simple presentation site, more complex one providing a lot of content or the most advanced one: e-commerce platform.
  • All your social media posts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on.
  • All your videos, either hosted on YouTube or any other platform.
  • Every appearance at any event. It can be a simple networking event, conference or meetup. It still represents your company, so it is a part of your marketing.
  • All your speaking engagements. That is also one of the best ways to reach more people in one go and share your message with them.
  • Even your business cards.

All the above activities represent a big part of your marketing strategy and company identity. Every single one has a very important role in promoting your company and brand. And, most importantly, a lot of them can be done without any or at a very low cost. Furthermore, none of the above actions are part of an advertising campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, advertising is important and can be useful, but it has to be done right. Make sure it is an integrated part of your marketing strategy and not just an isolated action.

Be cautious when talking with a salesperson or an account manager working for media publishers or agencies. They will offer you advertising campaigns on their platforms and promise results. Make sure to take the time to analyze their audience and see if it matches your audience, and that the campaign they are offering serves your overall marketing strategy.

If the answer is yes, then see how you can incorporate the advertising into your overall marketing strategy and if it fits your budget. It is paramount that advertising brings leads, prospects and/or sales. Don’t burn a hole in your budget.

Advertising is just a tool in your marketing strategy.

Marketing is not Advertising, but Advertising is Marketing.