document.documentElement.className = 'js'; MARKETING VS ADVERTISING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? | Small Time Me
Select Page

When I teach marketing, people want to talk about the best way to advertise. When I tell people I do marketing, they start asking me about Mad Men, a show about an advertisement business. But, are marketing and advertising the same thing?

If they are not the same, how are they different?


Advertising and marketing both focus on communicating with an audience in order to gain and keep customers. They both use content to communicate, to educate, to entertain, and eventually to convert a stranger into a lead and potential customer in your business.


  • A complex system of understanding your market, bringing them a solution for their painpoint, and communicating that solution to attract leads and convert them into customers.
  • Marketing includes research and planning, branding, advertisements, lead collection and scoring.
  • Focused on Customers and Potential Customers (your market)
  • Integrates Organic and Paid Media
  • Involved in Product Planning


  • Part of Marketing – Advertising focuses on placing communication in front of people as part of the marketing systems.
  • Advertising usually includes audio, written, image, and/or video content and places it where potential customers can engage with the content and respond to it.
  • Advertising pays for your content to be seen by someone else’s audience.
  • Less interested in planning and more interested in communication.


Definitions matter. But, they tend to be too verbose and not rooted in who we are and what we do. So, in an attempt to give you a simple working definition, here goes.

  • Marketing listens to potential and actual clients, and speaks to their needs in order to serve them.
  • Advertising finds potential and actual clients and places content in a manner that convinces them to interact with it in a specific way.

So, the chief difference in how I approach marketing and advertisements is that advertisements are part of a good marketing system. But, a good marketing system will always include more than just the ad.