The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

by Katie Sawyer, 10 minutes read
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The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Although marketing and advertising are typically used interchangeably, there is a difference between these two ways of promoting your small business. As a small business owner, it’s important to pay attention to what constitutes marketing and what constitutes advertising. This will help you create policies and strategies to grow your business.

You may be wondering why some bigger businesses have operations for both marketing and advertising. This is because these functions are different and distinct from each other. If you run a small business or are planning to, it’s important to understand both and how to apply them.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Like most small business owners, you may have ambitions to grow your business. Learning the difference between marketing and advertising can facilitate your business expansion objectives. Will you market or advertise? While you figure out the route to take, there are many options available to you when marketing and advertising. It’s generally agreed that advertising is a branch of marketing.

But no matter how great of a marketing or advertising campaign you may have, you’ll need a solid group of employees by your side ready to help you build the business of your dreams. And the only way they can do that is by being given access to a workforce management solution that makes it easy for them to receive their schedules as well as to swap shifts whenever they need to. If this sounds like a good fit for your business, then take a look at Deputy. The workforce management solution that’s trusted by brands like Nike & Amazon. To see it in action for yourself, click on the link below to start your very own trial.


What is marketing?

According to the American Marketing Association “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, exchanging, and delivering offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

In other words, you will be trying to draw the interest of potential customers and clients to your products and services.

Marketing is the process of getting a concept or idea across to the consumer or customer. For you, as a small business owner, it involves the identification of a product and determining the demand. The price and distribution channels you choose are also important. In addition, marketing includes developing and implementing a promotional strategy to get your products to your customers. Marketing should be evident in all stages of your business, as it is the foundation for making sales.

Dr. P. Kotler, a professor of International Marketing Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago, defines marketing as:

“The science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best. And it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.”

The four P’s

When you implement and execute a strategy to get consumers to choose your company’s product or service, marketing has taken place. As a small business owner, your analysis of what your customers need is paramount. To strengthen this point, you need to have an understanding of the four P’s of marketing, which are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

The four P’s of marketing is one of the differences between marketing and advertising.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

A large part of marketing is doing market research. This determines whether there is a demand for your product. The price you set for your product should reflect and rival that of your competitors. Again, research is key when deciding on your pricing structure. The right place involves knowing how and where to sell your products. In relation to promotion, you should aim to create awareness to educate and inform your potential customers.

As a small business owner, your profits will be affected if your market analysis is inaccurate. This is a continuous process as you should always seek to improve the quality of your products or services. Effective marketing can have a positive impact on the reputation of your business.

Marketing is worth your time and resources because it helps you to grow your small business. Consider that all Fortune 500 companies started from somewhere and marketing played a vital part in their expansion. If your goal is to build your small business into a Fortune company, then you need to take your marketing to the next level.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Your size as a small business can give you the benefit of agility and flexibility in terms of marketing. This is because you have the opportunity to buck the trend. Larger companies may become complacent when they reach a certain size. You can take advantage of your size by creating a marketing plan with a personalized touch.

As a small business owner, a primary concern is to get your products into the public consciousness to make sales. Marketing is one of the key ways you can achieve this. You are able to get to know your target audience and potential customers. You also have the opportunity to discover how you can serve them better by improving the quality of your product or services.

What is advertising?

To gain a firm grasp of the difference between marketing and advertising, it’s important to understand the concept of advertising. Advertising is simply an art of selling. As an art, it uses different channels which could be oral, printed, digital or illustrated. The main aim of advertising is to increase sales of the advertiser’s products and services.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Advertising seeks to persuade the audience that your products or services are right for them. There is normally a cost involved in showcasing your products or services to a targeted audience.

According to William Stanton, author of Fundamentals of Marketing,

“Advertising consists of all activities involved in presenting to a group a non-personal, oral or visual, openly sponsored identified message regarding a product, service, or idea. The message, called an advertisement, is disseminated through one or more media and is paid for by the sponsor.”

Advertising is a form of paid, non-personal presentation and promotion of goods, services, and ideas by an identified sponsor. When done efficiently, advertising can have a big impact on the growth of your small business. Advertising communicates your message in relation to your business. Text, images, and videos are different formats that can be used when advertising. To get a better idea of how to best build a presentation for your work, take a look at these 7 tips for designing a persuasive presentation.

Advertising, if done correctly, will help your small business be noticed for the right reasons. If your small business has a narrow niche, for example a boutique hotel, you should create a unique advertising concept to match your business.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

You also need to have specific goals and objectives when advertising your business. Consistency in using a particular style in your advertisements is important in order to help consumers identify your brand.

Advertising is a message or means to communicate with the users about your products. This is why your brand must be featured prominently when advertising your business.

Effective advertisements have to be focused, well organized and easy to follow. Simple and direct language normally works best to keep the customers’ attention.

Advertising is a tool to introduce new products, services or promotions to customers. From adverts, consumers get to learn about the products and services you offer. Depending on how you go about it, people may be encouraged to become customers because of your adverts.

Certain types of advertising, for instance radio and TV helps to add a perception of credibility to your business. It can be difficult to gain traction when starting out as a small business. Advertising draws positive attention to your business and lets potential customers know that you’re ready and equipped to meet their needs.

What’s the difference?

The differences between marketing and advertising are subtle but have a noticeable impact on your small business.


Marketing is the process of preparing your products and services for the marketplace. To do this, you need a broad knowledge of your existing and potential customers. Fulfilling your potential customers’ expectation of what your product should be is important. With effective marketing, your target audience will be able to recognize your brand, which includes design elements.

Additionally, advertising involves making your products and services known in a focused way. The word about the product is spread to your potential customers via various means. It could be social media, printed outlets or radio. Adverts are usually short and focused on the benefits of your products with the intention to persuade people to buy or try your product immediately.

Advertising is a part of marketing

All adverts are aimed at showcasing the products of a company. The message is often unmistakable and persuasive to target customers. Advertising is the part of marketing that directly informs customers of your business. The sole aim of your advertising is to convince your target market to try what you have to offer.

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Because of the level of expense normally associated with advertising, it’s not unusual for people to believe that it’s totally distinct from marketing. The fact is, advertising is a huge component of marketing.

Advertising normally requires a great deal of creativity and innovation to grab and keep your potential customers’ attention. As well as creating the perfect advert, you also need to consider the outlet that will provide the best return on your investment. For example, if you own a local coffee shop, you may choose to advertise on the local radio or your local newspaper, to reach people in your community.

Marketing has many different aspects

Marketing has different components, including:

  • Promotion
  • Advertising
  • Research
  • Media planning
  • Public relations

Customer support and sales strategy are also aspects of your small business marketing. The various aspects and touch points of your marketing work together to bring new customers to your business.

All businesses, irrespective of the size, need effective marketing to increase their customer base.

You have to dedicate time and effort to create the most suitable marketing plan for your business. Conduct an in-depth analysis of the type of marketing you plan to do in order to determine whether it is right for your business. For instance, if you want to market your business on social media, you should spend time determining which platform is the most popular amongst your target audience.

Advertising your business also requires a strategy to reach the largest number of your targeted audience. It involves analyzing different channels. You also need to set the time, duration and frequency of each advertisement. Your sole aim is to educate the target audience about your products and convince them to become customers.

In effect, marketing is more wide-reaching. Marketing is also ongoing and your aim should be to continually try to improve on your different marketing processes. As a small business owner, you could be involved in all the processes, design and decision-making in relation to marketing. However, you could hire a marketer for your business or outsource your marketing function.

Advertising can be more of a specialized practice. Therefore, it often requires professionals to handle the creation and execution of adverts. Advertising normally has a limited time-span, for example, promoting special discounts during the holiday season.

As a small business owner, it’s important to be creative when promoting your business. It’s likely that you’ll need to use both marketing and advertising to attract new customers.

Your marketing plan should include how and when you will advertise your business. A key part of both marketing and advertising is deciding on the metrics you will use to analyze the success of your campaigns.

After you’ve put in the required resources to market and advertise your business, don’t think that’s all it takes to run a successful business. No matter how great your promotional strategies are, you still need a team of employees willing to put in the work to ensure your business is running at full efficiency.

And the only way they can do that is by making it easy for them to receive their schedules and easy for the managers to create the schedules. If you’re struggling to meet these standards for your business then take a look at Deputy. The workforce management solution specifically built to make lives easier for hourly employees as well as for the managers in charge of creating their schedules. To see Deputy in action for yourself, click on the button below to start your very own free trial (No credit card required!)