Thought Hive: Marketing vs. Advertising — What Works to Build a Brand


Does brand recognition only come to companies with money to spare? Do you have to have your skin in the game to have a chance at cultivating brand awareness? Can you establish the brand recognition everyone wants but only few receive? Is your marketing budget, or lack of one, holding you back from success?

If these questions run through your brain all the time, you are not alone. Fighting the changing of times, technology, and trends is a constant struggle for most marketing managers and business owners. In today’s In-Sites, let’s discuss the feud between marketing and advertising and where their convergence is the most beneficial for building your brand.

We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.—Craig Davis

Budgets doesn’t grow on trees

Marketing budgets don’t grow on trees, which means most of us have to maintain a delicate balancing act between tools that will hopefully build our brand. Juggling with social media engagement, converting qualified leads and addressing your audience at different levels of the sales cycles can lead to plenty of places to spend your budget. Unfortunately, all too often businesses spend their marketing budget prior to the start of the new fiscal year.

So, how are you supposed to muster up a marketing budget that is able to compete with that of the big players in the advertising world? How do the bigshot advertising companies expect small to medium sized businesses’ products or services to ever boost their brand recognition? The truth is they don’t, not for scaleable results anyway.

Small and medium sized businesses have a difficult time competing with well-established brands on any paid advertising level. Let’s be honest, how could they? Overtaking a huge corporation with that kind of marketing budget would be like winning the lottery. And would you want to gamble with your marketing budget?

Since using advertising can get a bit pricey, you may want to opt and use a different type of advertising strategy. One that relates more closely to that of content marketing and the inbound methodology.

Produce to entice

There is more to successful advertising than just using it to sell products or service subscriptions. If you truly want to build a successful brand you must build a successful community around your brand first.

The only way to muster up the interest in your community is to get people talking about it, right? Be it word-of-mouth marketing, content marketing, social media marketing—it is all orbiting around one common factor—engagement.

How does a brand develop community engagement to build brand awareness?

Mainly, it’s all done through content. Content is interesting, appealing information that is attractive and engaging enough to capture and hold the attention of your audience, i.e., your buyer personas.

In the quest to drive more members to your community, the best measure you can take is to increase engagement. An active community represents a more enticing opportunity for potential members. But perhaps more importantly, keeping your community active enriches the bonds between them and your site.—CMI

If you have just set out on this brand recognition and content marketing quest, you can, for the time being, put the advertising aside. There is no need to bring a horse to a dry watering hole. Advertising should come into the picture once you have built a sturdy foundation of content to provide your website visitors.

Because if you have your hopes set on the promise of an engaged community, you better start producing some content. It is necessary for you to build a sturdy foundation of content for your brand before investing in advertising. If you’ve invested your website traffic through paid advertising, you should nurture their presence with value through your content.

Join the conversation

In addition to creating valuable content for your community, you must also participate within the community for it to flourish.

Engage with your community. If you are thinking about starting a business blog to build community and you are not participating in the community (regardless of its current size or state) how can you ever expect to build community around a new blog?—Direct Images Interactive

Ways to engage with your audience and join in with them are:

  • Revisiting your buyer personas to understand the current needs of your audience,
  • Using social listening to understand what your audience is talking about right now,
  • And creating knowledgeable discussions as a form of thought leadership with your audience and other industry leaders.

For more information on how to engage your audience, take a look at Jeff Haden’s quick video on how storytelling is the key to engagement: To Engage Your Audience, Tell a Story.

The place where marketing and advertising meet

Once you have established a content production process, and you’ve published and optimized your content, you should start seeing an influx of website traffic. You can then begin to plan your advertising campaigns. You'll want to focus your ads on the aforementioned content.

Creative advertisements, banner ads, and inbound marketing campaigns can be at the center of your lead generation and brand awareness pay per click campaigns or PPCs—created to inform your current audience, customers, and larger community. Here is an example of a banner ad:

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Banner ads only require the expense of the users in email in exchange for the content you are offering. This interaction between you and your potential customer is extremely important. From this point onward, you must nurture them toward the sale instead of automatically offering your product or service.

In a report authored by Colin Jevons of Monash University, he discusses the importance of a different advertising strategy:

By using an original, creative and different advertising strategy, companies can develop higher brand awareness and positive perceptions of their brands. Perceived advertising spending also has a positive effect on brand awareness, although interestingly such investment does not necessarily enhance perceived quality and brand associations.

You see, the idea is to develop a place that is recognized by the general public—specifically your buyer personas and target audience—as an informative resource they can count on when in need of advice, information, or guidance for dealing with your industry, product, service, or content niche. By positioning yourself as a thought leader in a particular industry, you are simultaneously positioning your brand to be that as well. Thought leadership and content marketing can work together and help you remain agile even when you have identified your content niche.

Marketing and advertising do not have to be in competition with one another. In fact, where they meet creates an holistic approach to viewing your brand. So as you create valuable content for your audience, you can create banner ads to capture your member’s information for future nurturing. Explore this balance during your next budget meeting and see how you can use both effectively for your brand.

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Topics: Thought Leadership, Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Advertising

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