Difference Between Advertising & Promotion

Difference Between Advertising & Promotion

In marketing, the term Promotion can be broadly defined as any and all activities that create awareness, trial or usage of a product or brand.  Many people use the terms marketing, advertising and promotion interchangeably although distinct but often overlapping actions occur within those functions.


Marketing exists to serve the sales goal of a business.  Marketing has four main components, Product, Price, Distribution, and Promotion.  Strategy development in marketing touches on each of these four areas as to the objectives and goals for the planting season.  Marketing is the umbrella activity that is done to achieve defined sales goals for a product or business.


As one of the major prongs of marketing, the promotion includes the disciplines of Advertising, Public Relations, and Sales Promotion.   All of these activities are designed to generate sales for the product and are usually used in combination as part of a promotion plan.


Advertising is distinguished from the other disciplines of promotion because it is a paid form of mass communication.  Advertising can take the form of television, radio, print (magazines and newspapers), outdoor billboards, and internet placements.  Advertising costs include those associated with the development of concepts, testing of advertising, production of finished materials and the planning and buying of media space.

The Internet has become a significant destination for advertising and a lot of money has moved from traditional advertising channels like newspapers and magazines onto the Internet.   Both the print and radio industries have been hard hit by the growth of the Internet, with many media closing as advertisers follow consumers whose media habits have changed to include more and more online time.

Public Relations

Public Relations or PR is a non-paid form of mass communication.  Businesses work with PR specialists to develop feature articles and product announcements with the hope of those articles interesting a media outlet enough to get picked up and placed in the outlet.    Media outlets need news and information so there is a reciprocal relationship between public relations and the media.

Sales Promotion

Sales Promotion activities are characterized as time-sensitive aggressive techniques used to spur sales for a product.  Sales promotion might include coupons, price-offs, and point of sale collateral materials.  The key difference in a sales promotion activity is that it is limited in terms of its exposure and availability.  Action verbs like “Hurry”, “For a Limited Time Only”, “One Day Sale” are all sales promotion catchphrases designed to get immediate sales to demonstrate a spike in unit or dollar volume over normal expected levels.