Marketing vs Advertising

“So you’re not an ad agency?” 

“No. I mean, not really. We do a lot of the same work that an ad agency does, but it’s more about marketing”

“Right. And so what does that actually mean?”

Marketing – it’s a word that means a hundred different things to a hundred different people, especially those outside of the comms-digital arena. It’s ads, it’s promo, it’s who you are – who your competitors are, and everything else in between.

To Metro, marketing is the thinking first. Advertising is the action that comes after that – the spend that you dedicate to promoting your message, while marketing is the effort that creates it.

I’ve had a conversation like this a few times in the last few weeks, and each time I do, it reminds me of how important it is for business owners to be clear about what they’re trying to achieve when they ‘do marketing’.

Your marketing plan really could be described as building a house. You have the foundations; the basics, made up of decisions and insights about who you are, what your market is, who influences the sale, where your competitors are, and what motivates your customer.

Good marketing looks at the big picture, not just the front end.

From there, you start to build the framework for a functioning marketing strategy onto your foundations; what does your database look like, who is in it, what materials do you need, what’s your plan when someone clicks, calls, or comes in? The framework is your capacity to succeed once your customers arrive.

The roof and walls could be thought of as your branding and website. This is the more surface level work – it’s what people first see when they come to your house. You have to look as appealing as possible to as much of your market as possible. It’s what gets them at last through the door.

Lastly, the garden you plant out the front with the brightest of flowers (because bright flowers always work) to attract attention – that’s your advertising spend. It’s so far away from the rest of the house – your foundations, your framework, and your surface work, but it’s still important. It’s what captures attention and brings people to your freshly completed house. The flowers and the house must work in tandem.

The key is in remembering that if your advertising/marketing isn’t working, you need to take a look at the whole house, and then you need to look at where you’ve built it on the street (market positioning).

Sometimes it isn’t that just one part of your marketing is failing, but that there’s a whole host of small reasons, magnifying out to make your marketing spend struggle. It’s at this point you remember, and it becomes clear how to approach your problem; marketing isn’t just money being spent on flowers. Marketing is figuring out how to build better houses.

So go back to your foundations, and work up from there.

By Rosie Collins


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