What Is the Difference between Advertising and Promotion?

HomeBlogWhat Is the Difference between Advertising and Promotion?

Many people think that the terms “Advertising” and “Promotion” are the same thing so they tend to use them synonymously. So yes, advertising and promotion do have similarities in between but they are quite different. Promotion is one of the 4p’s of the marketing mix (product- place- promotion- price), which works on informing the customers about the product offered by the company. Promotion includes advertising, direct marketing, public relations, personal selling, etc. to clarify, promotion is a marketing technique but advertising is a promotional tool. Through this article, we are going to put a clear image of the main differences between advertising and promotion considering examples, definitions, and explanations.



Promotions refer to the entire set of activities that communicate the product, brand, or service to the user. The idea of promotion is to make people aware, attract and induce to buy the product, in preference over other competitors. It is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. There are several means of promotions such as advertising, press releases, and consumer promotions like discount coupons, free distribution of samples, rebate, offers, trial offers, contests, etc.


Advertising and Promotion

Advertising is a tool of communication with the users of a product or service through selected and paid media. It is a means of promotion that helps to communicate a specific message to a large number of people in less time. Advertising is a technique used to persuade potential customers to buy the product. Advertisements come in different ways through various channels such as television, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, posters, walls, buses, etc.


Types - Advertising and Promotion


Direct Marketing: Direct marketing mainly targets prospects and potential customers. Social media marketing, Internet marketing, and Email marketing are all types of direct marketing used by most companies.

Sales Promotion: The main purpose of sales promotion is to stimulate purchasing and sales. And in addition to increasing sales, it plays an important role in informing prospects about new products and also recaptures lost customers. Example: product samples, coupons, etc.

Advertising: Yes, advertising is a type of promotion. It helps to build a brand and decides how the market will perceive the brand name. In addition, advertising enjoys a wide reach of the message that you want to send to your customers.

Personal Selling: It is when a company sends its agents to the consumer to sell a product personally. In this two-sided communication, the company gets direct feedback; builds trust, and attracts more prospects.

Public Relation: Managing the spread of information between a brand and the public is not an easy mission. Yet a professional PR department can create a positive image for the company and rebuild its public image in case of any crisis.


Newspapers and Magazines: This kind of advertisement can promote your business to a wide range of customers, as people still reach for their morning newspaper or a hard copy of a magazine. A specialist paper or magazine gives your brand a better chance of reaching potential customers.

TV, Radio, and Podcasts: These media channels have a wide reach, and advertising this way is ideal if the brand targets a large market. Additionally, regularly repeated messages have the power of getting attention and attracting new prospects.

Outdoor Advertising: It’s one of the best ways of getting your customers’ attention on the go. Large billboards and transit advertising (posters on buses, taxis, metros, etc) help to boost brand recognition as these advertisements are seen everywhere every day.

Email Marketing: Focusing on the brand’s existing customers, the direct mail approach should be more personal and treat loyal customers like insiders with VIP knowledge. A precise mailing list is like a treasure, yet businesses have to determine best practices to deal with such a precious tool.

Online advertising: It comes on the top list of the least expensive and most cost-effective types of advertising. Moreover, it helps businesses, especially small businesses, to reach a global audience even with a low budget whatever the main campaign’s objective is.



The main objective of promotion is to give the brand a sales push in the short term. Businesses achieve this by increasing the demand for goods and services of a brand in order to increase sales and profit turnover. An example is utilizing customer rewarding methodologies that track what a customer purchases and generate coupons for similar products. This encourages customers to increase their spending by buying additional products or more expensive products.


Advertisements are used mainly for some prominent goals. For example, announcing a new release of a product or service to convince customers that you have the best option. Another objective is building brand image and boosting sales by the emphasis on product quality, service, unique features, etc. There are also the “reminder ads” which reinforce the brand message to a well-established marketplace to maintain top-of-mind awareness and protect against other competitors.


Cost - Advertising and Promotion


For small businesses, Promotion is a more cost-efficient method for increasing sales and consumer awareness resulting in short-term immediate gains. For example, social media campaigns are a type of promotion that has no cost as well as being a time saver. As for medium to large companies, they tend to use special promotions as part of large advertising campaigns.


It’s known that advertising through traditional media channels is so costly. Successful advertising campaigns require long-term financial commitment as well, which will be too expensive for small companies.

Key Differences

Advertising and Promotion

Here are the major differences between advertising and promotion in short:


Also read:

Branding, Marketing, and Advertising: Learn the Differences

Online Marketing in Saudi Arabia


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