Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference?

workers discussing advertising jobs and marketing jobs

You may have heard the common business terms, marketing and advertising, used in conversation before. For some people, the difference between the two concepts may not be completely clear. If you are interested in entering the field of business or pursuing a career in marketing and advertising, having a solid grasp of these two areas can be extremely helpful.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is when marketers research and analyze their audience to create strategies that sell their product or service. The marketing team attempts to connect with their audience so that their business can be more successful.

Depending on the size of the organization, the marketing team may encompass other smaller teams within the broader marketing team. For example, at some companies there may be a social media team, digital team, content team or any other variety of teams that all work under the umbrella of marketing.

Some of the steps that are taken in marketing include:


Marketers can use research to find successful courses of action. Marketing also involves understanding a product or service and its audience. Often, marketers will look at the target market of their company. They will consider many different aspects, such as age range, income level, education and gender. This allows the team to tailor aspects of their strategy to this specific group of people.


Collaboration and brainstorming are important in marketing. Bouncing off concept ideas and approaches can help marketing teams be successful and reach more people.


Strategizing plays an important role in marketing. A strategic plan allows marketers to build their brand, or image, create products and services based on their brand, and market their offerings to the right audience. Marketers can see potential and what their clients want and create strategies based on this.


Marketers must be able to review and analyze what strategies worked best and others that need to be adjusted. For example, a certain package design increases sale more than another or a series of social media posts got more engagement than an email campaign.

What Is Advertising?

Although marketing and advertising may have some similarities, they are not the same thing. Advertising is one of the areas under the umbrella of marketing. Advertising teams are directed by the brand and strategic plan developed by a company's marketing team. Most people are probably familiar with at least some forms of advertising. Whether it be on TV, social media, or print or radio, advertisements are everywhere. Advertisers attempt to create a buzz around their business or product that can help draw people in and spread awareness.

It is important that those in advertising know how to best reach their target audience and use the tools at their disposal, whether that be in the form of social media, outdoor ads or print ads. Although marketing and advertising are two different things, they work in conjunction with each other.

Some of the steps taken in advertising include:

Developing a Creative Brief

Just as in marketing, advertising requires collecting background information before starting on a project. Many advertisers will create creative briefs that detail information about the project or business. Some common sections on a creative brief include the objective, target audience, company background, competition, and tone.

Choosing a Message

When creating an advertisement, it is important to consider what the main message of the piece will be. It could be Product A is better than Product B because blank. Or, perhaps it is everyone loves Business A, come visit. Coming up with an original advertising message requires creativity and thinking outside the box.

Creating the Ad and Finalizing Details

Once a message and concept have been chosen, the ad must be executed. If it is a print ad, the creative team will develop an ad for print publications. Print ads typically require the work of individuals such as a graphic designer, photographer or copywriter. If the ad is a digital post or video ad, it may require a different set of skills. For example, an animator may be necessary to create a clip or an actor for a video piece.

Launching the Ad Campaign

Once the ad is completed, the ad or ads must be launched in their appropriate medium. This is when the work of advertisers has the chance to shine or become white noise.

Earning a Marketing and Advertising Degree

If you are interested in going into this field, you will need to begin by earning a relevant undergraduate degree from a business school. One option is a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising. This degree allows you to develop skills and marketing strategies that will help you as you enter the world of marketing and advertising.

If you want to pursue higher-level positions of leadership and management, you may decide it is worthwhile to go back to school to earn a master’s degree. An MBA in marketing can provide you with new opportunities in your field that a bachelor’s degree alone may not provide. Fortunately, you can earn your MBA online so you can work and gain experience while furthering your education. 

Advertising and Marketing Jobs

Once you have completed your degree, there are many career options for you to consider and pursue. Some marketing and advertising jobs include:

  • Marketing managers
  • Market research analysts
  • Brand managers
  • Marketing specialists
  • Sales manager or representative
  • Fundraising managers

The need for qualified individuals to fill these roles is not going anywhere. As of September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for advertising, promotions and marketing managers to increase by about 10% from 2020 to 2030, as fast as average, accounting for an estimated increase of 31,800 jobs in the field.1

Are you interested in studying marketing and advertising? Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Marketing and Advertising, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Marketing. To learn more about these marketing degree programs and how to get started, click on the Request Info Button at the top of your screen.


1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2020, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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