mar·ket·ing /ˈmärkədiNG/

I’ve been asked by both student and clients throughout the years, “What’s the difference between Advertising and Marketing?”. The answer comes to me quickly now. The difference is the strategy behind how your business is identified, and by whom.

Marketing refers to the process of preparing not only your product or service for the marketplace but your business as well.

An effective marketing strategy involves understanding who your potential customers are and what problem they need to be solved through a relationship with your product or service. Marketing often begins before you have a product to sell. It involves:

Market Research: The art of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences with the intention of determining what they feel about the market.

Product Development: Improving an existing product or its presentation or developing a new product to target a particular market segment or segments.

Pricing: Understanding the market, and consumer expectations, allows us to create a pricing structure for products and services to remain competitive in the market as well as incentivize a consumer to choose a specific variable product.

Sales Strategies: Positioning a company’s brand or product to gain a competitive advantage. Successful strategies help the sales force focus on target market customers and communicate with them in relevant, meaningful ways.

Distribution: Making a product or service available for use by a consumer, using direct means, or using indirect means with intermediaries. A distribution strategy determines where we will place your product or service to get the most favorable response from the consumer audience most likely to engage with your product.

Advertising: Making your product and service known to the marketplace. Here is where we spread the word about what your company has to offer and why it’s unique.

Public Relations: A process of strategic communication that builds mutually beneficial relationships between your brand, your product or service, and your target audience.

Advertising is the method by which you deliver your message. Marketing is the method by which you develop a message to deliver.

All of these aspects support an effective, strategic marketing plan. Advertising is only a part of that marketing identity. Once your brand identity is developed and your marketing strategy is in place, present your product or service to your audience through advertising. Print, television, radio and the Internet are all venues that can communicate your brand to potential buyers. Social media is an inexpensive but powerful option; tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can help spread the word about what it is you have to offer.