"Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is okay. You are okay." -- Don Draper

If you're a fan of AMC's hit series Mad Men, you've likely gotten a lesson or two in advertising – and life – from Madison Avenue bad boy Don Draper.

But if you're majoring in business and are truly considering a future in the field of marketing, you'll want to have a handle on the basics, like the difference between marketing and advertising.

In some people's minds, there isn't much difference between marketing and advertising.  After all, both are aimed at the same end goal: driving consumers to a particular product or service.

But are they really the same?

In a word, no.

Difference Between Marketing and Advertising

Marketing is a set of activities, including advertising, designed to bring together buyers and sellers of products and services.

Advertising is one marketing activity. It is a series of paid communications, using various channels of mass communication, designed to influence and persuade consumers to think favorably about a company's products or services. Almost any mass medium can be a communication channel, including billboards, newspapers, publications, direct mail, bus benches, mobile phone screens, taxicabs, online mediums and more.

Ed Austin, associate vice president for marketing at Saint Leo University, describes advertising as "just one facet of the total marketing picture." Marketing, he says, additionally includes, "marketing research, pricing, distribution, public relations, community involvement and more, all bundled together."

Understanding the Important Distinction

"You really can't have effective advertising until you know who your customer is, how to reach your customer, and how to position your product to break through the clutter," Austin says. "Marketing helps you develop the methodology to reach and connect with your customer."

At Saint Leo University, customers come in all shapes and sizes – students, prospective students, alumni, parents and community members. And each receives messages in a unique manner relative to their need or interest.

"A lot of collaboration and thought occurs at Saint Leo University, whether we are reaching out to traditional students, students at military centers or bases, or online students," Austin says. "We work together to make our academic offerings known to the public."

Combining Traditional and New Channels

In recent years, as more and more students and prospective students turn to social media and the Internet, the channels for reaching those customers has expanded.

"Social media and the Internet are now a very real way to reach our target audience," he says. "Other methodologies, such as billboards, targeted email, radio and direct mail are also effective to reach niche audiences. However, they all need to work together."

Know Your Target Audience

While advertising is an important tactic under the marketing umbrella, it's just one piece of the overall marketing mix. Other elements include the traditional 5 P's of marketing:

  • Product (or service) – What sets your product apart and what benefits can the customer expect?
  • Price – Is your pricing model effective? How does it compare to the competition, and is it a price your customers are willing to pay?
  • Place – How are your products distributed? Are they easily accessible to customers?
  • Promotion – What are you doing, in addition to advertising, to promote your project?
  • People – Do you have a good relationship with your customers, and do you have the right people in place to sell your products or services?

What it Takes for a Successful Marketing Career

A solid grasp of the big picture and the little details that make it work are critical to having a successful career in marketing.

"You need knowledge in many areas, such as how to utilize marketing research," he says. "And you have to understand how different elements, for example, a blog or human interest story, can support or complement a company's advertising."

Successful advertisers, he says, understand the ins and outs of the multitude of mediums and how to strategically place advertising to achieve the goals of the company.

Austin's Advice for Marketing Majors

"Understand that marketing is a huge area of focus for organizations and is used to establish success in the business world. It is a field comprised of exciting components that one can learn to truly affect the bottom line of a company or organization."

If you're interested in a career in marketing, learn more about Saint Leo's online business degree programs:

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

What New Grads Need to Know About Digital Marketing

7 Must-Reads For Marketing Students

What Does A Social Media Manager Do?

Hot Jobs For Online Marketing Degree Grads

Online MBA In Marketing Research & Social Media Analytics

Image Credits: rtppt and Saint Leo University