You have a great product or service, but how can you let people know? Should you increase your marketing activities, or should you advertise more? What is the difference? Let’s look at the definitions of advertising and marketing. Advertising or Marketing? Which is which? Advertising is a paid message by a company to promote its products or services. Marketing is a systematic set of activities planned and implemented to connect buyers and sellers of products or services. Although advertising and marketing often are seen as the same entity, in reality, advertising is just one component of an overall marketing strategy. Advertising includes many direct activities such as email advertisements, print ads, radio and TV spots, direct mail, billboards, and Internet ads. Depending on your business, you can successfully advertise your company using any or all of these methods. Marketing, on the other hand, includes all types of advertising as well as the many other ways you and your business can connect with potential and current customers and clients. Public relations, distribution and/or shipping, strategic sales planning, social networking—all are part of your marketing initiatives along with advertising. When you market your business, you are letting people know why that should choose your product or service over others. When you provide good customer service, you are marketing your business. When you receive referrals and repeat business, you are marketing your business. When you consistently follow a plan to educate, inform, and influence potential customers and clients, you are marketing your business. When you continually work on your business brand, you are marketing your business. Marketing efforts move prospects from “cold’, to “warm”, to “hot”—and that eventually leads to those desired sales. As you strategize, write, and implement your marketing plan, include a line item in your small business accounting software package. Regularly assess and adjust your marketing efforts to realize the greatest return on your investment. In subsequent posts, we’ll discuss the various activities that you can use for your marketing efforts. Stay tuned!