Horse Is to Cart as Marketing Is to Advertising

It’s incredibly common for people and companies to (mistakenly) use “marketing” and “advertising” interchangeably. But they are indeed different.

If we were to use an analogy, think of marketing as the horse and advertising as the cart. To go anywhere, one clearly belongs in front of the other, and when things start to get off course, knowing the difference can help you fix it.



In a nutshell, marketing is all about finding what people want and then giving it to them. It’s a long-term process that includes research, promotion, advertising, distribution, sales, and public relations. It also involves planning … lots and lots of planning. Marketing is all about understanding your customer and figuring out how to start a conversation with them.

In contrast, advertising is how you share your marketing message. It’s the most expensive piece of the bigger marketing plan, and it’s controlled and strategic in how it calls the public’s attention to the product (think ad placements in newspapers, direct mail, billboards, TV, radio, digital).



None of that information is probably very new to you. But it’s still important to remember, because if you aren’t seeing the growth you were hoping for, this may be the source of your troubles. Your cart may be in front of your horse.

When launching a new product or service, it’s easy to get excited and overwhelmed with all the details. And it’s super easy to start working on the advertising piece before you’ve fully developed a comprehensive marketing plan. But it’s vital that you slow down. And plan.

Do you have your brand figured out? Is your messaging on point? Who is your audience? Before you start running, you need to know where you’re running to.

Likewise, if you find you’re spending a ton of money on advertising but not seeing the expected ROI, it’s time to take a step back and review your marketing plan.



Digital media is one of the hottest channels right now. If you have a business, people expect you to have a strong online presence, and it’s tempting to jump in and design a website and start a social media account before you’re ready.

Creating effective websites, digital advertising and social media content isn’t necessarily cheap or fast. Done well, it requires strategy, graphic design, copywriting, video creation/editing, data monitoring, brand monitoring, and advertising.

Before you begin to navigate this online world, make sure you evaluate all the digital mediums and are strategic in deciding what works best for your brand and goals. For example, while you’ll most likely need a website, you may not need social media or digital advertising. It just may not be the best way to utilize your resources … even if everyone else is doing it.

In essence, know what you want to say (and who you want to say it to, and where you should say it) before you start to say it. Always make sure your cart is behind your horse.



C-360 is full-service marketing agency that’s experienced at both developing marketing plans and executing advertising strategies for our clients. At the end of the day, we do this work because we want our clients to succeed, and we want the world to know how awesome they are.



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