I used this analogy the other day in a meeting and it seemed to help paint a better picture of the difference between marketing and advertising. There always seems to be a bit of confusion around the two terms. A lot of business owners we talk to do not make a clear distinction between the two because they get conflicting definitions from ad reps. Here’s the analogy:
Advertising is like renting an apartment, marketing is owning a house… wait… what?
Think about it. Both a house and an apartment provide the solution to a human need: shelter. Marketing and advertising both seek to satisfy a basic need of business: customers.
Apartments provide quick shelter. Very little is needed to get started and move-in is normally very quick. Soon, you have a satisfactory need fulfillment system that will continue to satisfy that need so long as you pay the bill (rent). If you do minimal research, your need is almost always filled to a satisfactory degree. You can “try it out” with little commitment (short term lease). You are making a good investment – in that you are staying out of the rain. You can walk away any time. When you do, you simply stop paying your bill, move out, and find another apartment to fulfill your shelter need. But you do so with nothing accumulated.
Buying a house, on the other hand, is different. It still provides shelter. But, it requires a substantial investment in a down payment. The commitment is much larger (and longer). You have regular investments in upkeep, upgrades, property taxes, and repairs. You cannot simply walk away without significant ramifications. You gain a great deal though. You OWN your space. You have choices. You are able to leverage a house to achieve greater results. These biggest difference is that the effort and investment is returned to you in the way of wealth accumulation. Long term value. Equity.
Advertising is your apartment. It provides immediate need fulfillment (or it should). Your basic need for customers is almost always filled to at least some degree (so long as you did some research and didn’t take a wild gamble). You can try different advertising options out – there’s a ton of them. You can do a trial…see if it works…if it doesn’t you’ll pull it. Everyone understands the fundamentals of advertising. The one thing: you stop paying the bill – you stop gaining exposure – until you find another apartment (I mean advertising venue). Little to no equity is built solely from an advertising campaign if it does not include an infrastructure behind it.
Marketing is like building a solid home. Building an effective marketing infrastructure takes an investment and a commitment, but the end result is equity. Brand equity, free ongoing advertising, organic search results, top of mind, brand advocacy, and an internal culture of marketing your product is not developed in the short term. But, building it will lead to continued wealth accumulation.
Marketing has to be seen as more than just advertising. Attracting customers is ALWAYS important. Advertising is crucial just as shelter is crucial to survival. But, advertising alone, will not lead to wealth accumulation. It will only satisfy your need today or this month or this year. But, it always requires rent to be paid.
Marketing is a business discipline that encompasses a wide range of business activities. Remember the 4 P’s – Product, Place, Promotion, Price. Advertising is a part of promotion. In a sense, it is a subset of a subset of marketing. It’s not unimportant by any means, but to identify an ad plan as your marketing plan is incomplete.
Just as your wealth adviser will tell you to plan for the long term and build equity. Iconic Digital Agency would advise you to do the same with your brand. By all means, you have to have shelter. You have to advertise. We would never deny the importance of good quality promotion. To take your business to the next level, though, you’ll want to invest in a more complete solution. It will require a plan. It will require an investment. And, it will require upkeep. The result will be something that pays for itself many times over.