Marketing versus Advertising?
I recently read an article that suggested modern sophisticated consumers don’t want to be advertised to so we should market to them instead. At first glance this premise may seem to make sense. Until we take a moment to consider what the definition of marketing and advertising really are.
According to dictionary.com the definition of advertising is:
1. The act or practice of calling public attention to one's product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.: to get more customers by advertising.
2. Paid announcements; advertisements.
3. The profession of planning, designing, and writing advertisements.
To any business person with even a little experience this is well known and accepted. This is how we get the message out. Although there are many variations, in its simplest form, advertising is an act that says, “Hey over here, look at me.”
Marketing is defined by dictionary.com as:
1. The act of buying or selling in a market.
2. The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
This is a basic definition but it reflects the fact that advertising is a part or function of marketing not an alternate activity.
It isn’t surprising that some people find it hard to define marketing. This marketing blog has 72 marketing definitions. Some are very well done; others are almost funny until you read the office or position held by the poster. It would be in bad taste to single one out but it is a bit scary when a CEO doesn’t have the first clue about what marketing is. To be fair the majority of definitions posted are well thought out and stated rather eloquently.
The real problem I have with the article that prompted this discussion is the fact that the Author used Social Media as the reason for the changing market (my term). It was clear by reading the article that the arena hadn’t changed but the Author thought that consumers had. The term, “more sophisticated” was used three times and hinted that if you were able to type on a keyboard and had a Face book page that you were a more advanced and some how more knowledgeable consumer.
While I certainly understand and agree that society as a whole is more aware of ad tactics and we definitely state that we are in favor of a more subtle promotional approach, I find it hard to believe that simply owning a mobile phone and signing up for a social media page makes us more sophisticated consumers.
At a sales convention some years ago a speaker made the comment that marketing is a concept, you could almost here the groans from the audience. The audience, as the speaker should have known, was comprised of the top sales people of one of the most productive sales forces in the country. We all knew that marketing is an act, not a concept. An act that encompasses everything a successful business does except perhaps manufacturing, although direct product branding often takes place during the manufacture of a product. The speaker missed out on one of the key aspects of marketing by not targeting or getting to know his audience.
The perception that marketing is a mystical checklist of items that if executed properly will assure success and if not carried out thoroughly will doom a business to failure is the very kind of thinking that prompts someone to think advertising and marketing are alternate activities. Marketing should and has to be what we do as a business, creating a quality product is great but the ability to distribute the product while fulfilling the needs of a consumer and making a profit are the corner stone of marketing. Of course how you build client relationships while marketing your business is unique to your own industry.