How to Differentiate Between Advertising and Promotion

Promotion and advertising are terms that many people use interchangeably. While it is true that both terms are related to marketing, they are not the same. Here are the main differences between promotion and advertising:

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1. Approach used

Advertising is a marketing tactic which is normally employed by large companies that have a substantial market share. The most popular forms of advertising include radio and television adverts, posters, billboards, and print press advertisements. Promotion, on the other hand, is a way of marketing a service or product through more dynamic means. This could be coupons, free samples, donations, social media, contests, events, team sponsorships, sales, and rebates.


2. Amount of time spent

The primary objective of advertising is to build and reinforce customer loyalty. This is with the aim of making sales in the middle and long term. Therefore, when running an advertising campaign, it might take some time before you can notice any significant outcomes. This could be months or even years. However, promotions are run with the aim of producing results in the short term. For instance, stores offer discounts or coupons in an attempt to make immediate sales.

3. Costs involved

Running adverts on newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and billboards is usually very costly. For instance, depending on time of airing, a 30-second television advert could cost you thousands of dollars. This is why advertising is a strategy used mostly by large companies. On the other hand, promotion does not involve much in terms of cost. You can even run your promotions on social media or via email without having to spend a cent. Promotions are therefore suitable for small and medium sized companies.

4. Customer targeting

If you want to target specific customers, advertising is more effective than promotion. Most media channels have specific listener, viewer, visitor or reader demographics which you can look at. You can be able to target a specific audience based on income level, education, gender, education level, marital status, age, and ethnicity. However, when it comes to promotions, you can never really know who will see your message. For example, when you sponsor an event, you cannot really be sure what kind of people will attend it. If you invite people to ‘like’ your Facebook page, you might attract people who are not really interested in what you have to offer.

5. Community involvement

Though advertising ensures that your service or product remains in the public eye, it does not entail much community involvement. Promotions, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to engage with the community through sponsoring events and supporting causes. People are likely to view your business favorably when you impact their lives in a direct manner.

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Despite all these differences, advertising and promotion are not mutually exclusive. Successful promotions usually depend on ad campaigns and vice versa. For instance, while running an ad campaign for your product or service, you could offer a two-week discount to your customers. This will generate even more interest in your brand and could boost your sales in the short term.