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The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising


Content Marketing

Trying to decide whether marketing or advertising is right for your business is kind of like trying to figure out what came first: The chicken or the egg. 

Even though these terms get used interchangeably, they’re different. And while we aren’t here to tell you what to use in your business (you’ve gotta pay us for that one, hehe), we WILL tell you that you should stop looking at them as an either-or statement.

Instead, start looking at “marketing” and “advertising” as which one is right for my business statement. 

Marketing: The bigger picture

When we talk about marketing, what we’re really talking about is the umbrella term and NOT an individual strategy.

We know that it gets tossed around a lot, like…” Get your marketing strategy together” or, “How’s your marketing looking for the new year?” But this is just the general term in the same way you’d say something like, “How’s business going?” 

It’s like saying you’re from The United States but having to specify what state. Or saying you like dessert but having to form an alliance with chocolate or sour candy. 

There are a lot of pieces in the marketing puzzle

Social media marketing

This is how you’re showing up and building a connection with your audience in places like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc. It covers everything on social media, not just your feed posts. Your Reels, your Stories, and even how you respond and interact with your audience fall under the term “social media marketing.” 

Email marketing

Bet you can’t guess what this one is 😉

It’s more than just the actual emails themselves, though. Email marketing includes your automation sequences, your opt-ins and freebies, your segments (groups of people within that email list), and more. 

Branding and graphic design

Branding is about a lot more than just your visuals, but visuals make up a big part of that equation. Your logo, your font choices, etc., play a role in how your business comes across to your audience. 

And because of that, so do your graphics at every touchpoint — your web design, social media graphics, course materials, ads, etc. 

Content marketing

This needs its own spotlight because it’s also a huge term that covers a lot.  Basically, think of this like your overall content strategy. It includes your content plans, your larger pieces of content (like blogs, podcasts, and videos), and the smaller pieces of content that stem from it (social media posts and emails). 

 SEO marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you get found online. Search engines (mainly Google, but also some social media platforms like YouTube and Pinterest) use keywords that are used throughout your content and your website to index it into a big ol’ list so when someone searches those keywords, you get found

Influencer marketing

Influencers advocate for your brand and entice people to buy because it gives people a look into what it would be like if a real person were using it. Social proof is a strong marketer, even if you’re tired of seeing random people on your FYP promoting fast fashion (but I’ll save that convo for another day…back to marketing). 

Why advertising is just a piece of the marketing puzzle

Did you know that advertising is actually a part of marketing? These two terms tend to get lumped together and used as interchangeable concepts, and while they are incredibly similar, they aren’t the same thing.

Because, again, marketing is the umbrella term, and advertising is just a part of that term. 

But advertising can be summed up as the paid portion of your marketing. Yes, you pay for your branding or your copywriter, but what we’re talking about here is those paid slots of time and views, like commercials or social media ads.  

Paid ads

What you pay for to get screen time on Instagram and Facebook (and other social media platforms). Yes, I know they’ve gotten out of hand. 

My very first job was as a social media coordinator back when social media was just making graphics and having fun with the copy. Ads were barely a thing yet (did I just date myself?? Whoopsies). 

You could pay a lump sum and easily get a return from it, pretty much guaranteed. Now, there are a bunch of buttons you have to press to make it go live, lots of monitoring that needs to happen during its run time, and you’re not even guaranteed to see your return on it. 

Does that mean they aren’t effective? I dunno, I’m not a paid media specialist. But my point? 

Yes, ads have gone batshit crazy, but that’s because there’s a shit ton of competition that used to not be there. It doesn’t mean you can’t be effective with them, it just means you’ve gotta try a little harder than putting money into the machine and getting a return

Display and print

Posters, wheat paste, billboards, magazines, and newspapers, etc. We don’t use much of these anymore but they’re still in some places and in some businesses and are important to note. They cost $$ to print and send, which makes them an advertisement

Product placement

Have you ever watched a reality show where the product name or logo is blurred out? Or when shows call things like iPhones “Pear Phones” (*cough cough* Nickelodeon)? That’s because people gotta pay for those products to make an appearance, and it’s what we call product placement advertisement. 


This includes anything that is quite literally out of the house, but it’s more commonly used to refer to things like fun pop-ups and brand immersion experiences. 

Think about when you go to a fair or the mall, and a business has a branded photo booth and some swag bags. That’s out-of-home advertising. 

How marketing + advertising join together for a *chef’s kiss* business strategy

Marketing makes the goods. Advertising is how they get sent out (if you’re paying for it). You can’t have advertising without marketing. But you can have marketing without advertising. 

And only YOU know if paid advertising is right for your business. 

When you can effectively decide whether or not it has a place in your marketing strategy is when paid ads become effective for YOU. Not everyone will want to use them. And if you decide not to, you free up time and energy to allocate elsewhere (like on some cool emails or blog posts). 

Potential roles in your marketing team

Because marketing is a general term, it can make it a little easier to digest if we think about it in terms of who does what: 

  • Copywriter — writes copy
  • Brand designer — designs brand assets
  • Graphic designer — designs graphics
  • Web developer — builds + updates the website
  • Art director — manages the brand, assets, graphics, etc. that go out
  • Content Manager — manages the content that goes out on various platforms
  • Communications specialists — think PR, podcast pitching agencies, etc.
  • Digital marketing specialists — these are the folks who know the new strategies and can tell you how they work for you
  • SEO Specialist — someone who can help you rank higher in Google/search engines
  • Marketing analysts — they… analyze your marketing efforts. It’s all in the name.
  • Marketing coordinators — manages the different parts of your marketing strategy
  • Market research analyst — digs in competition and what’s happening in the market to advice marketing/advertising decisions
  • Launch strategists — manages launches, including the how/when/what/why
  • Brand Ambassador — like an influencer
  • Social media coordinator/manager — helps manage and schedule content on social media
  • Project manager — turns projects into tasks and manages the people in charge of those tasks
  • Account coordinator or client manager — someone who communicates with clients and then tells the project manager or other coordinators/directors what needs to change
  • Campaign manager — someone who manages Facebook and other ad platforms  

This list is in no way exhaustive (because I can’t possibly dig through every single marketing job title to ever be held), but this gives you an idea of where you can go with your own marketing team. 

And some people do more than one thing (like us — copywriting, web design, and content planning baby!) which is more common in small businesses. You rarely see someone JUST do SEO strategy or paid media strategy unless they work at a larger company.

Wanna take content marketing off your plate completely?

Sure ya do!

With our team, you’ll be supported with on-brand content creation, ensuring no single strand is out of place. We’re talking streamlined, strategic services here — creative, research, planning, execution, the whole shebang.

If you want help with:

  • Quarterly content calendars
  • Ongoing content management
  • Content creation 
  • Offer co-creation
  • Reels ideation 
  • Launch calendars
  • All the things in-between

…. Give us a ring!

Ashton Hoot, Lead Copywriter + Dedicated Swiftie
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