Marketing, Advertising, and Promotion: Understanding The Difference

by Mar 30, 2021Knowledge0 comments

Marketing, advertising, and promotion are terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably.

Marketing entrepreneurs must make a distinction between these concepts and understand them.

When and how to use each to their advantage.


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Defining Terms


Before we begin nitpicking for the differences between the three terms.

We should first have a thorough understanding of their definitions.

It should be noted that by definition, marketing includes promotion and advertising. 

To avoid confusion, remember them in order: marketing includes promotion, which includes advertising.

An organization can pick and choose the best methods to market its products and services and may opt to forgo some options. 




A primary component of business management, marketing refers to any and all actions taken by a business with the aim of generating sales.

Many professionals describe marketing as actions related to creating a demand for a product or service.

If demand already exists within the market, then marketing seeks to make products more desirable for consumers who already demand them.


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Marketing methods include management, promotion, advertisement, branding, and much more.

Marketing strategies are based on a mix of concepts, traditionally product, price, place, and promotion.

It is an entire discipline with multiple facets and approaches that have been used and studied over time. 

Note that marketing should ideally be based on market research conducted on a target consumer.

Otherwise, marketing efforts will not be cost-effective and yield sub-par results.




Communication aimed at showcasing the merits of a product in order to induce a short-term boost in sales is called promotion.

It differs from advertising in a variety of ways.


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Promotional communication is usually cost-effective, and results can be observed almost instantly.

It is also a very personal method of marketing, as the ultimate goal is to change the consumers’ perception of a product or the business as a whole.

Most marketing professionals consider it to be an important part of the traditional marketing mix, and advertising is considered to be a form of promotion.




It is a familiar term to the general public that is usually used to describe a paid form of content that is created with the specific goal of increasing sales.

An advertisement is a form of promotional communication that an enterprise may opt to employ, with the aim of building an image and spreading information to a large audience at once.

Advertising is an impersonal form of marketing and an expensive one.

The goal of advertising is long-term: to build loyal customers and change the public opinion of a brand. 


60636ce94ed9d - Marketing, Advertising, and Promotion: Understanding The Difference


Businesses spend a lot of money on advertising, even though it is not cost-effective. Increased competition is the main reason for a business to shell out large sums of money.

Advertising might be expensive, but the general outcome is positive. Thus, it is well worth the money spent.


Marketing Methods And Strategies


Several strategies are commonly employed by businesses worldwide, depending on the mission and vision of the organization.

Generally speaking, all marketing strategies should take into account the 4 P’s of marketing to be successful.

The following are a few of the most commonly used marketing strategies used by major organizations and small businesses alike.


Social Media Marketing


The latest trend in marketing is to use social media platforms as a means to apply marketing concepts and strategies.

Businesses can use several social media platforms to reach their target consumers and market their products or build their brand image. 

For example, videos shared on YouTube can raise awareness of available products and increase sales by generating demand for them.

This strategy is so effective that some businesses are buying YouTube subscribers to expand their marketing campaigns.

Social media marketing has proven to be highly effective, and no marketing strategy would be complete without it in the digital era.


Influencer Marketing


A recent trend in social media involves social media accounts with substantial followers promoting brands and products as a form of marketing.

Influencers have proven to be an important tool in marketing strategies because they are highly influential and capable of changing consumer behavior drastically.

It is safe to say that they have a significant impact on the purchasing decisions of consumers. 

Therefore, businesses are generally moving towards the use of influencers in their marketing strategies.

Influencers that have a larger audience have the upper hand and are often able to negotiate to receive higher monetary compensation for their services. 


Traditional Promotional Campaigns and Advertisements


Ads that are distributed on a variety of media outlets (newspapers, television, radio, billboards) are considered traditional forms of advertising.

They are still relevant today, even with the heavy use of social media marketing.

The reason being that they are still highly effective in increasing sales in the long run. Because they are so expensive, small businesses may not run large-scale advertising campaigns.

Traditional promotional campaigns include a wide range of activities, such as elaborate events, discounts, or even samples.

Anyone who has walked into a grocery store already knows what sampling is, where a company sets aside a budget to give away free samples of a new product to increase sales.

Discounts are commonly known as well. 

Promotional events focus on providing an experience for the consumer to influence their purchasing decisions.

For example, a sports shoe shop may choose to sponsor a marathon.

People participating in the event will be exposed to the brand and may even purchase shoes soon after.

In this way, promotional events can bring a substantial increase in sales in the short term.




Marketing is important for the continued success of any business and includes a variety of research-based strategies that include both promotion and advertising.

Social media marketing is the newest and most cost-effective form of marketing at the moment, especially influencer marketing on social media. 

Promotion is personal communication aimed at increasing short-term sales of a business.

Advertising is an impersonal promotional communication with a target market, with long-term results in building a brand image and changing consumer perception of a product in a competitive market. 

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