Marketing as a function is very often used interchangeably with sales and confused for it. The two are quite often linked as a combination as in ketchup and mustard, salt and pepper, or shoes and socks. However, just as each of these pairings are separate and distinct, able to stand alone and be recognized in that way, sales and marketing likewise are related yet distinct.
They are not stand-ins for each other. One cannot do marketing and think that they are making a sale. Neither can one make a sale and confuse it for marketing. Branding is the common element, and both sales and marketing stand on their own.
The essence of marketing is communicating our message to the intended user in such a way as to have them appreciate that we have something to offer them that they both want and need, at a price that is acceptable to them for the value they will receive, and only available from us in this exact way.
It does not mean that we are the only ones offering it, but it should suggest that we are the only place where they can get it exactly like this – in the color, size, quantity, availability, warranty, terms, reputation, expertise, or other attributes that make it uniquely qualified to meet their needs.
They may choose to purchase a similar item or service from someone else, but they should realize that they are not getting exactly the same thing.
Our marketing efforts help to create an interest and demand for or product or service. We do that in various ways. There is traditional media advertising (print and electronic), internet advertising (websites, social media, and paid advertising), signage and billboards, flyers and brochures, word of mouth, referrals, events, sponsorships, and so many other ways that we use to place our name and that of our product or service in front of the consuming public – whatever our audience happens to be.
We need people – businesses, professionals, or consumers – to appreciate that we have something that will help them and that we should be their ultimate choice for acquiring it. We may not be the lowest price for this product or service, but the intangibles associated with their purchase will create a solid value proposition for them that will validate their purchasing design.
Throughout this entire process of marketing, however, notice that never once did we ask for, invite, expect, or request the sale. That was not our aim. Marketing creates the interest and generates the contact. Then the sales function begins.
Once we are in contact with someone – in person, over the phone, online, or through email – we can learn what their needs are, why they want what we have, how our marketing message appealed to them, and which product or service they want (and the specifics of what they are interested in having) – among several other pertinent questions we can ask them. Then we can begin getting a commitment from them to acquire and use what we offer.
Marketing brings the potential customer or client to us, and sales produces the revenue for us.