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In Advertising? Your Job Description's Changed

Do you work in a job that involves writing creative, managing clients, media planning and buying, or trafficking ads? Well, take a minute from your busy day to digest this news: Your job description's changed.

Many of us use the words "advertising" and "marketing" interchangeably. For example, on any given day, I might describe my business as an online marketing tech company or an online advertising tech company. While, colloquially, there might not be a substantial difference, it actually does matter. Advertising and marketing, while inextricably connected, are not synonymous.

Here's a brief back-to-basics on the two terms.

Advertising is a discrete product -- its parameters are easily defined, usually in the form of "specs." It's a television commercial, a display banner, a search campaign, a sign-up ad. Advertising usually contains some imagery or text and a persuasive message, whether that's a direct call to action (20% off your first purchase) or a softer branding message (Coca-Cola is the real thing).



When you run advertising, you think about concrete deliverables like size, format and placement while writing your ad. You negotiate dates, you haggle over prices. It's a transaction between your company and the venue you're running your ads with.

But marketing is more than the buying and selling of a product. Marketing is a process of introducing yourself, creating an identity and then engaging the consumer with a dialogue about your offering.

In other words, that full-page Nike promotion you see in the magazine? Advertising. That Nike ad that's driving people to the NikePlus community site, where the company gives runners a platform to create a community around the Nike brand? That's marketing.

The fundamental difference between a marketer and an advertiser is in the way they view campaigns.

Advertisers tend to think of making a singular product -- an advertisement -- and broadcasting it to a universe of anonymous impressions -- be it women 18-34 or adults 25-54.

Marketers think differently. They recognize that people don't turn into impressions that look alike, talk alike and think alike when they go online. People remain people with their unique likes and dislikes. They have to be communicated with in a way that is meaningful to them.

And just how can you know what is meaningful to a person? Why, get to know them. Ask them for their name. Ask them how you can best contact them -- be it through an email address or a Twitter handle. Then, through well-crafted and thoughtful conversations, form a relationship with the person and learn more about their preferences.

The ASPCA is a good example of marketing at work. The ASPCA doesn't message all pet lovers in the same way. Instead, when the person is first introduced to the ASPCA, it ascertains if the person signing up for its ad is interested in dogs or has a preference for cats. The ASPCA then knows what kind of information to send the person who has signed up for its organization. Having a relevant stream of communications helps the person connect better with the ASPCA brand. This results in an uplift in important brand metrics -- be it aided/unaided awareness, recognition or even advocacy.

The ASPCA takes this customized marketing approach further by altering communications in keeping with the channel it is using to engage consumers. It uses email to provide detailed information updates, Facebook for images and videos of pets up for adoption, and Twitter for updates on legislation and tips on caring for animals. And sure, it runs advertisements on TV and in print -- but it's only one part of a very sophisticated marketing strategy.

So the next time you sit down to think about what kinds of ad you'll run and where, remember this: the ad is just the beginning. You also need to come up with a cohesive strategy to connect with the people who are most interested in your brand.

Then, you need to think of all the different ways you can carry on a conversation with them, so that they continue to care about and advocate your brand. You need to think about your email message streams, your Facebook app you think will spread like wildfire and a Twitter strategy that keeps users following your updates regularly.

If you work in advertising, you'll need to give thought to the creative and media placement for your ad. But you'll also need to think about a lot more. You'll need to be a marketer.

5 comments about "In Advertising? Your Job Description's Changed".
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  1. Steve Schildwachter from Enterprise CMO, LLC, August 2, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.

    Zephrin, this is a good article insofar as it distinguishes between "advertising" and "marketing".

    Is your point, however, that there should not be a distinction between an "advertiser" and a "marketer"?

    If so, take heart. There is a group of us in the agency business who are trying to change the mindset from advertising to marketing.

    Sadly, many employees at our clients as well as our agencies act like your definition of an "advertiser", thinking in terms of specs, sizes, costs and above all audience sizes, rather than channel-neutral messages and budgets that engage the right consumer at the right place in the right moment.

    Here's more:

    Great article -- thanks!

  2. Steve Schildwachter from Enterprise CMO, LLC, August 2, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.

    By the way, are you any relation to Albert Lasker, a.k.a. The Man Who Sold America?

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 2, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.

    Do you think you got marketing mixed up with PR instead of advertising? "Your job description will change," says the swami.

  4. Kevin Horne from Verizon, August 2, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.

    You call a Nike "promotion" an "ad" then one sentence later label an "ad" as "marketing." The APSCA example would be sort of like, well, what a billion companies do every day.

    These commentaries make me feel like I'm trapped in 2003 and can't get out...

  5. Zephrin Lasker from Pontiflex, August 3, 2010 at 11:10 a.m.

    Steve, thanks for the comment. I am actually distantly related to him (there aren’t that many of us out there). And as for your question about whether I think there should not be a distinction between “advertising” and “marketing” – my point is that advertising is a piece of marketing. It’s a discrete product, a TV spot, a banner ad, etc. Marketing is the process of creating demand, brand loyalty, having a dialogue with consumers. We’re on the same page.

    Kevin, the Nike ad I referred to in the latter half of that section is part of a larger marketing strategy. It’s not a standalone piece – rather, it directs people to a community site, which builds engagement. As your comment shows, the line between the two is blurry, which is why I think it's important to talk through the differences.

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