Marketing and Advertising Aren’t Interchangeable

As a small business owner or a founder of a nonprofit, there are so many terms to keep up with as you operate and make an impact on others. The same goes for marketing and advertising. These two terms are regularly interchanged with non-marketing professionals, so they’re applied incorrectly the majority of the time. Just in case you didn’t know, marketing and advertising aren’t interchangeable. Meaning, marketing, and advertising are not the same.

While there are at least 72 marketing definitions (seriously, check out the link), the one that draws the line clearly is from Jay Baer, president of Convince and Convert.

Marketing is the messages and/or actions that cause messages and/or actions. -Jay Baer

For me, it’s that simple. Marketing is simply the action from a company to inspire action for a potential consumer. Marketing in its most general form is typically done by educating and informing the public, which in the end builds trust. The key is trust. However, building trust takes time.

Check out these 5 keys Ways to Build Customer Relationships from Entrepreneur to improving your marketing game.

Clarifying Marketing

As the article covers one of the best ways to market your company and yourself is through building your network. “Your network includes business colleagues, professional acquaintances, prospective and existing customers, partners, suppliers, contractors, etc.” Hence another point to make, marketing is personal.

In my professional opinion, has the best definition of advertising.

The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.

Even more simply put by, advertising is paid announcements. There are so many ways to advertise your business, with new methods coming out every year. Small Town Marketing gives you 25 Free Low Cost Advertising Tips, with some great advice such as placing your ads in off hours or unusual locations for less. One of my favorite tips from this article (because it runs into the nonprofit sector), is to be a community event sponsor. As a business, not only are you getting community-wide exposure but you’re also doing social good.


In general, advertising is a non-personal way of increasing revenue. Unlike marketing, you don’t have direct contact with the consumers. The goal is not to build a relationship with them over time. Advertising is a quick way to pay for your company to be seen.

To sum it up, check out the diagram below.


This diagram shows you that marketing and advertising aren’t interchangeable, because it creates different results with the consumer. As you can see, the goal at the end is different for each category. Marketing’s goal is to build a relationship with the consumer, in which you’ll have an advocate for your product. Advertising’s goal is to create a sale with the consumer.

Next time you go and ask for marketing professional help, be sure to remember that marketing and advertising aren’t interchangeable. Marketing is to create brand loyalty. Advertising is paid content to invoke action (in most cases a sale).  Marketing is a long term, and advertising is short term. This is all valuable foundational knowledge to know before you set up and run a paid advertisement campaign.

Rebekah A. Dull,
Business Strategist, Social Media Manger and Web Designer

NW & Associates – Consulting | Social Media | Web Design