There is a common misconception that advertising and marketing are one and the same. Although they are related and neither could be successful without the other, they are indeed two distinct disciplines. Marketing is the process of developing a product or service and strategically pricing and selling it to consumers. Advertising, which is the process of creating awareness and spurring demand for a product or service, is a component of marketing. Some consider marketing to be the business side of sales and advertising to be the creative side. Understanding the difference between marketing and advertising requires exploring each of the distinct characteristics that form the foundations of each specific career path.

Careers in Marketing

Marketing is a business process that relies on research and strategy to develop the goods and services that people want to buy. Marketers then position and price those goods and services to promote and support consumer purchasing. Marketing also governs brand management, which includes brand color and logo creation, brand image and other elements that align the image of the product with the interests of the target audience.

Marketing is often seen as being governed by the marketing mix, which is also referred to as the “four Ps” of marketing – product, place, price and promotion. Simply put, marketing is the business effort of putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.

Larger companies tend to have their own in-house marketing department while smaller organizations might hire an agency or marketing group to help them gain market share. Common marketing job titles include brand manager, product manager, research analyst, sales manager, and marketing director.

Marketers spend considerable amounts of time researching general trends, as well as specific trends in consumer behavior, to forecast the need for new products and services or to determine how to more effectively position an existing product or service in a changing market. Research is also used to inform all marketing efforts, from an overall strategy all the way down to the details like pricing and package design. Marketers also use research to assess competition in order to determine how to effectively compete. 

Careers in Advertising

Advertising roles are often broken down into two distinct sides: management and creative. Management roles focus on pitching new business, managing clients and campaigns and directing the work of internal team members. Management roles might include creative directors, art directors, account executives and media buyers. Creative roles focus on developing campaigns, including taglines and slogans, visual presentation and ad copy. Creative roles include graphic designers, copywriters, videographers and photographers.

Creative and management staff work together to develop campaigns that are appealing, entertaining or engaging while making sure that the essential points of the message are conveyed. Media buyers then research appropriate venues, such as print, television, radio, billboards and web, and purchase space or time and place ads.

Degrees in Marketing and Advertising

A degree in marketing or advertising can prepare students to launch a career in either field and is typically a requisite to take advantage of opportunities to advance. Marketing degrees usually include courses on principles of marketing, marketing research, marketing strategies, consumer behavior and sales management. Advertising degrees typically include courses on principles of advertising, advertising management and account planning, copywriting, interactive design and media planning.

By fully understanding the differences and similarities between marketing and advertising and how these two fields relate to each other, students will be in a better position to make informed decisions about the educational path that best matches their skills, interests and career goals.

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