The key differences between marketing and advertising are based on how each term defines a separate function in the process of bringing a product or service to the marketplace. Marketing is a combined effort of four strategies, one of which is promotion; advertising is one method of promotion.

The essential strategic components of a marketing effort are commonly called the four Ps: product, placement, promotion and price. Advertising, which is how a company communicates to prospective clients about the product or service, falls under the category of promotion.

It's easy to see why there is often confusion between the terms "marketing" and "advertising," especially since advertising is often used to communicate information about the product, placement and price. A clear delineation between the scope of marketing versus advertising is necessary to design and implement a successful campaign to bring a product to the marketplace. Many small company owners focus only on advertising, unknowingly neglecting the other, equally important aspects of marketing.

There are many ways to promote a product or service. In addition to traditional methods of advertising, such as magazine, TV and radio ads, other promotional options include event sponsorship, sending discount coupons by mail or email, or giving away branded T-shirts or tote bags. Smaller companies might choose to advertise only through one or two methods, such as direct mail and messages on bus stop benches. Larger companies, with large advertising budgets, often pursue a multitude of advertising avenues and include expensive options, such as sponsoring halftime entertainment during the Super Bowl, buying naming rights to sports venues and placing their logos on racing cars.

The term for the full range of a company's marketing efforts, a portion of which is advertising, is called the marketing mix. For most companies, the marketing mix is not stagnant. It often fluctuates based on previous or anticipated results, which can be influenced by economic trends, competitors' offerings and a myriad of other factors. For a company to be able to determine whether an particular advertising effort is satisfying the desired goal within the marketing mix, it needs to take advantage of an analytical tool that allows it to compile and tabulate the results. Monitoring advertisement effort results can be an important way to assess a company's ability to reap the most benefits from its advertising expenditures, or its advertising-to-sales ratio.

For a company to be able to determine whether a specific component of the marketing mix (such as advertising) or the full spectrum of the marketing efforts are viable and relevant, it is crucial for there to be an understanding of the difference between marketing and advertising and the role that each function plays in successfully bringing a product to the marketplace.

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