“Many small businesses lump advertising and promotion under the same expense category, giving both functions to the same manager. Advertising generally refers to controlled, paid messages in the media, while promotion includes paid and free marketing activities, such as sales or sponsorships. Until your business is large enough to have both departments, consider putting advertising and promotion, along with public relations, under the direction of a marketing person.”
In its narrowest sense, advertising refers to messages you send to the public via newspaper and magazine displays, billboards, TV and radio commercials and website banners. You control the content and graphics and pay for space to display your message. The ads are meant to work graphically with the medium to make your message stand out, competing with articles, graphics, music, shows and other ads, called “clutter.” The more ads a medium has, the more “clutter” it contains and the less attractive it is.
Promotion, more commonly referred to as promotions, is a method of announcing your product or service using more dynamic means you can more easily modify or change. Examples include coupons; sales; celebrity endorsements; event, team or league sponsorships; contests; rebates; free samples; catalogs; social media; donations; and direct mail. Unlike public relations, which are an attempt to get the media to promote your message at no cost, promotion is often an expense. A social media campaign is an example of a promotion that has no cost, other than staff time.