Advertising vs Marketing

Sometimes it’s a battle and I think that comes from lack of communication, information and understanding.


Many years ago when I took my first steps into this mind blowing industry I remember people asking me what I did for a living and I would answer that I was in marketing. It wasn’t until some years later, before I could Google it, that I realised everyone is in marketing in some shape or another. I should have answered that I was in fact in advertising, or one of the many facets of that beast.

The problem is of course that I now know I was not alone in my misinterpretation of marketing back in those early days. Indeed there are many Marketeers today that still don’t quite get it. The connection between advertising and marketing is so often ignored and, too often by the Marketing manager/director themselves, on whom we so rely to build our businesses. Advertising is just a small part of Marketing, it’s the directly paid for element, Marketing is so much bigger than it’s parts.

Let me give you an example. Some years ago I moved to the Kent coast and at that time I was also fortunate enough to own a beautiful home in the south of France, one of my many rewards from being so good at what I do. Back then I travelled to France frequently and always used the same airline from the same London airport. Though they were completely lacking in customer consideration, it was one of those switch of for the duration of the experience because the pain is too great, yes EasyJet I’m talking about you.

So one morning sitting in my kitchen enjoying a third cup of my favourite PG Tips brew and listening to radio Kent I kept hearing the same ‘advertisement’ over and over again. It was all about new destinations now available from Manston Airport and how great it was and how personal the experience would be and that if we don’t support our Kent based airport then we would lose it, and blah blah blah. And there it was, new destinations now included Nice. So I was hooked, I thought to myself well I now live in Kent, it’s not that far to Manston and yes I should support my local airport.

I excitedly booked my ticket to fly from Manston for a four day trip the following week. I told just about everyone I knew how I was supporting our local airport and that they should do the same. The flight was less expensive and it was only a 30 minute drive to the airport. I couldn’t sing their praises highly  enough. I was in effect now part of their marketing effort, so sold was I on their advertising.

I arrived at Manston and took my small carry on case into the check in lounge, I was pleasantly surprised as it was so quiet, there were no queues and everything just looked perfect. I approached the check in desk, huge smile on my face, and this is where all that advertising budget on local radio was money down the toilet. You see, I was confronted with the marketing vehicle, namely, the check in girl.

I smiled and said good morning to her and she completely ignored me. She asked for my documents and passport and silently ticked her boxes all of it with a downturned mouth and absolutely no words of welcome. Then I placed my small carry on case on the scales and was informed bluntly and sternly that I was 5kg over. I questioned this and said that wasn’t possible as I was well within the weight allowance, not for this airport she took some pleasure in telling me and produced a book of vouchers with the cold announcement that I would have to pay for excess.

I paid of course, I had no choice. When all was done and I had the tickets in my hand I was about to turn around and head to departures but decided to remain instead and I simply said the following. ‘ I live locally, I booked Manston because I listened to an advertising campaign on the local radio, I wanted to try what was promised as a great experience and of course to support my local small airport. I just want to say to you that Manston airport have completely wasted their money and the reason is you. I will never fly from this airport again and my lasting memory of this experience will always be you’

So that is what happened I never used Manston again. I told so many people of the experience and of course we all know that stories about bad experiences spread faster and wider than those about  good ones.

The saga of Manston airport continues to this day, They have lost so much business and huge sums of money. Now I’m not blaming the check in girl for that entirely but she certainly added fuel to the fire.

So the message is clear. Everyone is in marketing, the receptionist and how she greets people and answers calls, the driver delivering your goods in the sign written van, the customer services assistant, the customer relaying their experience of using your company, these are just some of what makes your business a success or not before we even look at the systems you adopt and the footprint that you leave.

So you, yes you, marketing professional, your duty to your business goes far beyond your advertising budget and your KPI’s and your response rates, it extends internally to your marketing force and that is everyone from Betty who cleans the toilets to John the CEO because if they don’t know what you are doing with your advertising budget and you have not informed them on what you expect from them you might as well burn your CV and look for alternative employment, I hear there may be a vacancy at Manston airport !!!


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