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What is the difference between marketing and growth marketing?

Date published: July 03, 2023
Last updated: July 3, 2023

The marketing world can feel like a convoluted and complicated place. It has many niches and can take on many different forms. This has led to a lot of confusion when it comes to modern marketing terms.

What’s the difference between product marketing and growth marketing? What about digital marketing vs traditional marketing? Content marketing and word-of-mouth marketing?

Two words in the marketer’s dictionary that are particularly easy to confuse are marketing and growth marketing. They sound nearly identical in nature.

After all, the vague concept of marketing usually includes the desire to grow, right? What’s the difference between the two phrases? Is there any?

Let’s investigate.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is a broad term. It can mean many different things and has countless nuances and sub-categories.

This makes a specific definition hard to come by. However, in most cases, the simple, pure, unadulterated act of “marketing” involves the action of selling or distributing a company’s products and services.

That’s it. Marketing is the act of promotion that companies engage in (in many different ways) whenever they want to get their goods into the hands of consumers.

The e-commerce website brand also points out the wide range of topics and concepts that the word “marketing” applies to. This includes everything from strategy creation and market research to traditional marketing, digital marketing, customer acquisition, customer retention, and much more.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a startup studying the customer lifecycle or considering new growth marketing tactics for a Fortune 500 company. If you’re promoting and generating interest in a product or service, you’re marketing.

What Is Growth Marketing?

When it comes to growth marketing vs. marketing, growth marketing has a much more narrow focus. While all marketing seeks to create revenue, growth marketers focus on generating cash by building long-term, sustainable growth for a brand.

This is done by focusing on two things: the customer and the data. Traditional brand marketing tends to look inwards at a company and its offerings before considering how to promote these to consumers. In contrast, growth marketing centers on the customer experience at all times. It studies consumer pain points to identify the target audience and considers how companies can meet the potential customer at any point along the customer journey.

A good growth marketing strategy also removes the need for gut instincts or blindly following trends. Instead, it uses key data tools, such as A/B testing and Google Analytics dashboards to ensure that marketing activity is having its desired effect. When that doesn’t happen, tracking and comparing data to marketing goals and benchmarks allows marketers to make quick pivots and tweak their growth marketing strategies over time.

Broadly speaking, effective growth marketing focuses on three key areas:

  • Improving credibility and brand awareness through digital PR initiatives.
  • Building authority through a competent and cohesive content strategy.
  • Enhancing visibility via SEO tactics and techniques.

Together, these three aspects, used across a variety of carefully integrated growth marketing channels, help spark long-term, sustainable growth for a brand.

How Are Marketing and Growth Marketing Related?

Marketing and growth marketing may not be the same thing, but they aren’t mutually exclusive, either. On the one hand, marketing is an umbrella term that includes a wide variety of promotional tactics.

For example, digital marketing is a form of marketing. So is email marketing which is its own subcategory of the subcategory of digital marketing. Segmenting audiences within your email campaigns is also marketing. It all falls under that marketing umbrella.

On the other hand, growth marketing is a specific application of marketing that facilitates customer-led, data-driven growth. To be clear, this shouldn’t be short-term growth at the expense of everything else. (That’s called growth hacking.)

Instead, growth marketing uses a select set of marketing activities to create a framework for genuine, sustainable growth.

Bringing Growth and Marketing Together

Marketing is about generating revenue. Growth marketing is about creating high-quality growth. Together, these two concepts can work together to boost a brand’s bottom line not just in the short term but in perpetuity.

When you narrow your marketing focus to zero in on the growth side of things, in particular, it infuses generic marketing activity with a clear sense of data-driven direction and customer-oriented purpose. The result is a brand that effectively meets the needs of its growing customer base, no matter what those may look like over time.

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