What Really Is The Difference

As the owner of On The Level Marketing, I don’t necessarily have a difficult time explaining to people what I do, but when you are giving your “elevator” speech or 30-second snippet about what you do, you can’t really get into everything.  So I use the word marketing to keep it short.  However, that word has been used for so many things, any more, people don’t know what Marketing is, or if they do it might not be what I do.

Employers advertise a marketing position, which can be a sales position, an account manager position, an advertising type position, or a host of other things.  Then you have businesses, who like me, refer to themselves a marketing business, or an advertising agency, or digital marketers.  So….what really is the difference?

When I Google the definition of marketing this is what I find:  mar-ket-ing, noun, the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.  Yeah, that is what we do at On The Level Marketing & Consulting; however, my interpretation of “selling products or services” is our products, which is On The Level Marketing and & Consulting.  Our services are promoting and selling, our clients business.  It is the process in which we come up with a plan on how we are going to effectively advertise, or market, a clients business.  This is done through advertisements, print media, and digital media.  This definition is what I learned marketing to be when I was going to school.  This is where you put together an effective marketing plan making sure all of the communication, or advertising if you will, is cohesive and has a similar theme.  It is also considered branding.  Branding is important and is mostly done by big corporations, but it is important for smaller business to do as well.  When I worked at Wells Fargo Bank we had a thick book on the branding of Wells Fargo.  All the variations of the logo where, when and how to use the logo.  What size and for what format, where to place it, etc.  Black and White versions and color versions.  The precise colors to use in the logos and on and on.  Is that necessary for a small business no? But to all your marketing material be cohesive and communicate a uniformed look and image is.

Let’s Google the term advertising.  Ad-ver-tis-ing, noun, the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.  We do the front end of this.  We prepare print media, websites, logos for our clients to be displayed in magazines, social media posts, a website, radio, and TV.  Advertising comes after you have put together an effective marketing plan.  If you look at any large corporation, Wells Fargo as I’ve already mentioned, Starbucks, Google, Coca Cola, NFL, they all have a very specific look and no matter where their ads are you know who and what it is because their advertising is cohesive.  Even GEICO who seems to have many different advertising “gimmicks” still at the end of the commercial is selling the same thing insurance.  And when you hear GIECO you know its insurance.  So, although marketing and advertising don’t have to be completely under one brand the underlying brand needs to be the same.  

What is digital marketing?  It is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.  It is truly the world we live in today, right?  But if you really look at the definition of that isn’t it really just the same definitions as advertising and marketing?  “Back in the day” before computers marketing and advertising were just that, but with the internet, computers, mobile phones, mobile devices, and the need for every business to have a website and social media presence to be relevant, we have coined a new term to revive an old one.  

Do not get me wrong there are, and can be, huge differences between a marketing firm and an advertising agency.  One might only do the marketing plan and branding, while the other might only do the design work; yet, others still combined them both to make a nice package.  Making it more affordable for some businesses to have the same resources available, as large corporations.  

So at the end of the day, whether someone says they are a marketing business, an advertising business, or they do digital marketing it is all the same.  What you need to do as a business owner is ask questions.  Find out exactly what firm or agency can provide you or are you going to have to higher someone else to do another part for you.  It can all be done by one agency.  You just need to ask.  

Geoff Cummings is President|Founder of On The Level Marketing & Consulting, LLC. Successfully helping businesses with all their marketing needs by branding their businesses and keeping marketing simple and straightforward.

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