With the Christmas fast approaching and presents to purchase I’ve been thinking a lot about seasonal sales and wondering if all of the marketing tactics are turning into sales. While I personally believe Marketing & Sales are partners that go hand in hand down the street towards profit (hopefully), I view them as very different tasks. I view marketing as the promotion of a good or service that builds awareness of a product or brand and makes the customer feel warm and fuzzy enough to want to do business with you on and make a purchase. I then view selling as the physical act of completing a transaction and having your customer walk out with product in hand or services provided. As I pondered this I decided to go to my trusty dictionary.
Dictionary.com defines marketing as:
1. the act of buying or selling in a market.
2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
and Dictionary.com defines selling as:
1. to transfer (goods) to or render (services) for another in exchange for money; dispose of to a purchaser for a price.
2. to deal in; keep or offer for sale.
3. to make a sale or offer for sale to.
4. to persuade or induce someone to buy (something).
I was quite surprised to see the top definition of marketing as the act of buying or selling something – which says nothing about promotion of a product or service (which they get to in #2). How does that fit with the top definition for sell as “the act of transferring goods or services”? (Which you might recall was the way I thought of selling). Aren’t these two acts similar if not the same?
This is where many people get hung up – by viewing Sales & Marketing as one and the same. They are not exactly so. You can, and most of us do, use our marketing materials and programs as tools to sell our product and service. The piece to remember is that our consumers don’t follow through on the act of the sale until something happens for them internally. They need to understand the WIFM (what’s in it for me). They either really like what your product or service does for them and are going to buy it anyway ( I know when I need a massage) or after consistent touches and getting to know you and have a perceived value in your product a purchase happens. I don’t buy financial services from someone I just met. I take my time. I want to get to know and feel like I can trust them before I’ll sign on that dotted line. However, I don’t think twice about going to McDonald’s or Starbucks for a quick fix of french friends or a mocha. Could that be because of all of the marketing that Mickey D’s and Starbucks does that leads to subliminal trust? Sure. And I also know the quality of their product – which leads to recurring purchases.
Back to my Christmas story. I went to Toys R Us yesterday, where I only go about once a year when I have the need for an adrenaline rush and over exposure to commercialism. Who knew there were 40 types of babydolls? After months of Sunday paper advertising inserts (marketing) I saw something I wanted to get for our daughter for Christmas. I know and trust the store because I’ve been paying attention to their marketing efforts since I was a little girl. I definitely was a Toys R Us Kid. 25+ years later that marketing jingle sticks with me and leads me to go make a purchase. By definition I’ve been marketed to and sold: the sale happens and I complete the act of buying and selling. The marketing message worked. One of the main goals of marketing is to build long term customers which in turn will lead to sales and a list of folks to upsell to over time.
So, the big companies have oodles of money to market their wares. What about the small business owner? The independent agent or contractor? The network marketer? How do we cost effectively use marketing strategies to build our brand and make sales? After all, we’re in business to make a profit and we want to be smart about the use of our capital. Where to start?
I’ll give you my thoughts on the answers to these questions in coming posts.
For now, I’ll leave you with this quote by Winston Churchill: