Defining the Difference between Marketing and Promotion

In the minds of most people, marketing and promotion tend to be grouped together as part of a business strategy and activity, the ultimate goal of which is to improve the success of the business by increasing sales and, consequently, revenue and profitability. Yet, although the two processes are intrinsically linked and inter-reliant, as will be seen from this discussion, there are some unique differentials between them in terms of their role and purpose, which can best be explained by outlining the main activities pertaining to each process.


MarketingMarketing, in simple terms is the research and analysis process that is required to provide a framework of knowledge from which a successful and effective promotional or advertising campaign can be launched, that will lead to sales of its products or service. Within this context, there are a number of questions that need to be asked and resolved.
The first of these questions is to ascertain whether there is a market of customers willing to purchase the product or services offered and if there are sufficient numbers to make this a viable proposition for the firm. There are two elements of research that need to be conducted in this respect, which include market and customer analysis. For the former, the marketer will want to research the size of the market and the potential share that their product could potentially secure and, consequently, whether this offers a viable opportunity for the firm’s product/service. In terms of customers, the research needs to be focused on discovering which segment of consumers would be most likely to purchase the product/service, what their needs and demands are, and how these are likely to change over time and, finally, how they can be located. In marketing terms, this process is known as segmentation, with the objective being to ensure that the chosen segment is big enough for the product to be successful.

The second range of questions marketing needs to resolve is those related to potential constraints that might exist within the chosen market, which could pose a threat to the successful marketing of the product or service being offered. The threats, which exist within the chosen external marketplace, could come from the competitive nature of this environment and other forces over which the firm has no control, but nevertheless needs to address before any promotion is likely to be successful. In terms of the competitive element, the purpose of the marketing process is to discover how many competitors are already in the market, their size and market share and to what extent this increases the choice that is available to the consumer. Furthermore, this analysis will also be used to identify what, if any, barriers there are to new entrants. For example, if there are many competitors and a high cost of entry, this is likely to require more resource and, potentially, reduce the profitability of the product being offered. Of course, the opposite might also be found from the research, providing opportunities rather than threats. The other external issues will include changes in the political, economic, social and technological factors that exist within the market.

It can be surmised therefore, that marketing is a process of research and analysis that is required firstly to provide detailed knowledge about the market the product is aimed at and to identify how to use the firm’s strengths, or address its weakness, so that it is better able to deal with the opportunities and threats that might exist. The second objective of this knowledge gathering is to aid the marketer to develop a plan that will ensure the most effective way of making the target consumer aware of the product and encouraging them to purchase, and this is where promotion comes to the fore.


PromotionPromotion is the process of getting the message about the product to the consumer in a manner that will a) attract their attention, b) encourage their purchase and c), build a relationship with the customer that leads to continued loyalty. In other words, promotion is about creating the right image and message content about the product or service and making sure that the right media, whether visual or written, is used to convey that message to the audience that have been selected for targeting within the marketing process. In terms of message content, the promotional campaign will use key elements of consumer behavioural patterns to determine how the information content can best be made to attract the intended customer. For example, the message might be presented in a style that uses humour, nostalgia, beauty or leisure benefits. All this will depend upon how the target consumer segment is likely to react most positively too.

In terms of the media used for the promotion, there is a varied choice, which includes audio, visual and print outlets. However, it is choosing which mix is most appropriate the promotion not only has to include the combination of these types of media but also, using the consumer behavioural determinants of its target segment, get the choice of the media used and timings correct. For example, if the promotion is through television or radio advertising, the time of airing needs to coincide with when the target consumers are likely to be watching/listening. Similarly, print advertising needs to be targeted at newspapers and publications the target consumer will read.


It is clear from the above overview that marketing and promotion consist of two different, but connected aspects of the a firm’s strategy to maximise market share, in terms of the number of consumers attracted to its products, and using the appropriate promotional tools and outlets to present its message successfully to the intended target market segment of consumers.

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