Understanding the difference between 20 types of marketing

There are now more variations of “marketing” than there are dairy-free milk alternatives at your local Whole Foods. Since we have experience in working in most of these (we would say all, but new ones pop up every day, and our legal team wouldn’t let us make a claim that bold) we decided to break it down and give an overview of the types of marketing we’ve come across, in case that helps anyone else struggling to see where they fit in this new world of business and media.

Before we dive into the many types of marketing that we develop creative work for, let’s define the space in which marketing exists. The key areas that fall under a typical CMO’s domain are advertising, branding, communications, public relations, and marketing.


How the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “The action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements.”1

How we define it: Creative work and the media strategy behind it to drive consumers towards an action, at scale.

Why it matters: Advertising is catchy, it’s fun, and it can have a huge impact on the direction of our world. And, it’s often a big, exciting manifestation of a brand that all of the other work needs to connect into.


How the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “A public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted.”2

How we define it: If you walk into a bar and meet someone, and that someone is actually a business, the way they act, talk, dress, react, move, look, listen, present, say, and do, that’s brand.

Why it matters: Brand is the glue that binds everything together. Companies with strong, healthy brands have an easier time creating and deploying all types of marketing, advertising, and communications work, and the consistency of it all pays dividends, too.


How the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “Personnel engaged in communicating: personnel engaged in transmitting or exchanging information.”3

How we define it: The art of effectively sharing information from your company to all stakeholders, from customers and clients to partners, government regulators, industry organizations, and more.

Why it matters: The communications discipline does the heavy lifting that keeps a company in all the relevant news cycles and helps ensure that the company says the right things, to the right audiences. This is closely related to all the other disciplines and work discussed in this piece, and often overlaps.

Public relations (PR)

How the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “The business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution.”4

How we define it: The almost impossible task of monitoring and influencing the public narrative about your company. 

Why it matters: PR has to work collaboratively with all the other outgoing communications and creative marketing and advertising work to ensure the story is strong, true, and optimal with all audiences. PR also has to monitor and react to anything in the landscape that may impact (both positively and negatively) how the public feels about a company, and work cross-functionally to adjust accordingly.


How the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”5

How we define it: Effective and creative communication through a variety of mediums and channels, all to achieve a set of predetermined business goals.

Why it matters: Marketing takes on so many definitions and has more flavors than most ice cream stores. And yet, it’s at the heart of everything a business does, because in so many ways, marketing helps to find, create, and engage with the “market” that every business operates within. Companies that win at marketing, win at everything.

There are many, many types of marketing. So we thought we’d break down 20 that we enjoy working in.

Now that we’ve defined the core components of what typically falls under a typical CMO’s domain, let’s dig deeper into the types of marketing, what work typically gets produced for each, and why they matter. Below are 20 types of marketing that we’ve worked on that require some creative work to execute:

Consumer marketing

Also known as B2C marketing, consumer marketing shares a lot in common with your typical Super Bowl ads that promise god-like powers when you eat a certain brand of corn chips or drink a caffeine-fueled beverage. But consumer marketing goes way beyond the catchy tv spots – it’s everything from mailing lists, to social media posts, to catalogs you still get through the postal service, robocalls, bus station posters, and in-app promotional banners…as you can see, the list of available consumer marketing channels is large and ever-growing!

Business to Business (B2B) marketing

Similar to consumer marketing, Business to Business, or B2B marketing, is when two professional entities (companies, freelancers, professionals, non-profits, government agencies, etc) engage with each other through marketing. The channels may often be similar to consumer marketing channels but focused on activations that more commonly have a “work” context, such as LinkedIn, industry conferences, business-oriented email lists, and more. B2B marketing can often be more technical than consumer marketing and very subject matter specific and may involve long-form content like whitepapers and explainer videos that go deep into a particular subject matter relevant to the audience and the company producing it.

Brand marketing

Brand marketing can have a B2C or B2B slant, and it’s often a marketing practice only performed by companies where the brand value is crucial (and often the brand represents many products, like Johnson and Johnson, or has a ubiquitous influence, like Visa). Typically brand marketing focuses on building brand awareness, including a strong awareness of a key logo mark, and what that mark stands for. This brand elevation then makes other types of sales and marketing techniques more impactful.

Product marketing

Similar to B2B marketing, product marketing takes the focus a step down from the company level and instead dives deep into the product or service being marketed. Although most B2C marketing is actually product marketing (when Nike markets a new shoe, it’s marketing a product), the phrase “product marketing” is almost always used in a B2B context. B2B product marketing is often tactical, technical, and audience-specific.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is part channel, part technique, and often the channel and technique have to work hand in hand to make social media marketing effective. Social media marketing can be both B2C and B2B and includes any marketing done through social media channels (and content specifically for social channels). A deep understanding of the social media platform, the audience on that platform, and how content is typically created and delivered (either to fit within the norm or intentionally break it) is key when it comes to social media marketing.

Experiential marketing

Experiential marketing is a broad category and again can be both B2C and B2B. Experiential marketing can be defined as anything related to having your audience experience something. This could be in person, like a pop-up event, or online, like a webcast or an interactive demo. It often refers to a live event or demonstration in which all 5 senses are engaged, and the brand is “experienced” by the audience.

Digital marketing

Although a few decades ago this was a new and relatively niche space, Digital marketing is now an umbrella term, similar to digital advertising, that basically refers to content and media strategies that focus on digital channels (anything via web or app on a phone, tablet, computer, wearable, etc, as opposed to more traditional channels like television, print, word of mouth, out of home, etc).

Print marketing

Print marketing is the practice of creating and distributing marketing through physical, printed materials (and may also be known as/have crossover with print and Out Of Home advertising). Think magazine ads, bus stop posters, flyers for your band’s concert this weekend, and even business cards.

Event marketing (in person, virtual and hybrid)

Event marketing really refers to any marketing done at, or by hosting events. This can again be focused on marketing to consumers or other businesses (or can be trade events marketed at professionals, teachers, consultants, doctors, government officials, plumbers, advertising people, etc.). There is a lot of crossover between print marketing and event marketing for in-person events and digital marketing for virtual events. Hybrid events take the best of all worlds and bring them together (when executed thoughtfully, of course!).

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing happens when an organization gets sales or customer leads that come to them (usually through another form of marketing). Once the leads are in, unless a salesperson takes over and engages with that lead directly, inbound marketing techniques help nurture each lead towards a specific action, which could be to contact sales, sign up for a demo, or join an email list, buy a product, etc. Mailing lists and in-app banners are some of the popular tools for inbound marketing.

Sales enablement marketing support

The term “sales enablement” is broad, complicated, and deserves its own series of articles (stay tuned!). But in short, sales enablement, or marketing support for sales teams, is a range of activities, content types, and strategies that marketing teams can deploy to help sales teams. This can take the form of pitch decks, leave-behinds, one-sheeters, sell-in documents, email writing, design support, trade show booth design, you name it, but the key is that it is done for and in partnership with the sales team.

Video marketing

Video marketing refers to any B2B or B2C marketing done using video as the primary creative medium, both live-action, and animation.

Email marketing

Email mailing is any marketing (both B2B and B2C) through email as the distribution channel.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is any marketing done through an influencer, and typically through social media channels. Although relatively new to the scene, there is now a whole industry surrounding social media influencer marketing, and this can be an effective tool for both B2C and B2B marketers.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-Based is a hyper targetted form of B2B marketing, often focusing on a specific prospective client (usually for a very large or significant business deal) or a small group of similar clients (like supermarket chains, energy companies, etc).

Owned channel marketing (AKA organic marketing)

Owned channel marketing refers to marketing using content pushed through an entity’s “owned” channels. These channels are free to use, such as a blog, social media, a website or app homepage, storefronts, etc, and often target customers or contacts that are already engaged to some degree. Owned channel marketing is sometimes referred to as organic marketing, and it can be a strong reinforcement for other marketing initiatives.

Paid Media Marketing

Paid media marketing is similar (and some may argue is the same) to advertising. It essentially refers to spending media dollars to publish marketing content on channels someone else owns, to a wide audience. There are paid forms of most types of marketing, including paid social marketing, paid influencer marketing, paid event marketing, paid partner marketing, and the list goes on.

Partner Marketing

Partner marketing is content created for one company to be used in partnership with other companies, to market to a collective audience for both companies’ benefit. Really any form of marketing can become partner marketing, and the ins and outs of partner marketing may be discussed in a future article!

Global Marketing and regional marketing

Global marketing typically happens at big organizations with a cross-border reach, and the term refers to marketing done by a team that oversees the global business. This marketing work is often distributed to regional marketing teams to further localize and activate in their regions. Global marketing content sets the brand vision at a high level, and regional marketing takes that content and makes it relevant for the nuances of each region.

Content marketing (or educational marketing)

Content marketing (known to some as educational marketing), can be used to market to consumers but is typically a form of B2B marketing that uses deep, rich content as the primary marketing tool. Often, this educational content can be given away in exchange for something like contact information or a social share, or it’s used to help nurture leads towards a specific action. Hint…this article is a form of content marketing! If it’s working, send us a note and tell us what you think!

Need help with marketing? Don’t know what marketing you need? We can help!

At Cannonball, we’ve done it all, and we’d love to share that experience with you! If you have questions about marketing, need help with a marketing project, or have a budget and a goal, but are not sure what the best path forward is, we’d love to hear from you. Just send us a note to team@cannonballcreative.agency and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advertising
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brand
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communications
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public%20relations
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marketing