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Do You Know the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

It wasn’t that long ago that I was at a barbeque at a friend’s house (on one of those few days in Melbourne when it was actually summer) when the topic, inevitably shifted to what we all do for a living.

You know the story, right? A couple of people whom I had never met before were excited to hear that I was in business for myself. I still enjoy that feeling, so when I told them I had a marketing business, I knew precisely what the next question was -which is…

“So, (pause), what is Marketing?”

I should have a stock standard elevator pitch rehearsed so I can simply press play in my memory to respond to this very common question. Even if I did, I don’t think that would work. Anyway, for the readers of this column, who perhaps would also like to ask me the same question, keep reading.

A definition of Marketing. Sounds simple?

The truth is, this is where it starts to get interesting. There are so many definitions of Marketing and just a quick look at Wikipedia will demonstrate this to you. In the definition sphere, there tend to be definitions that are very theoretical and others that are more corporate sounding or those that provide focus for a particular niche audience. Exhausting. So I am glad that Mark Crowe from the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) concurs.

Marks says that “some definitions cover activity but not strategy, others describe it as a management process but not its value creating output. On the other hand, a number of all embracing short definitions often become too simple and meaningless -therefore lacking in distinctiveness.” A minefield for anyone wanting a simple answer.

For the record, this is the AMI’s definition of Marketing -

Marketing creates value -for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective. (Roberts & Styles 2000)

So what is Marketing?

In my line of work, and perhaps for the Business Owner readers of this column, I like to describe Marketing as a journey, a process that can be constantly reviewed and refined. An ongoing commitment to adding value and growing sales, so I tend to explain it in the following way.

Marketing is -

1. Identifying a gap in the market;

2. Creating a brand;

3. Building a brand personality;

4. Defining an ideal (and loyal) customer/client base;

5. Having something unique to say and offer;

6. Becoming known to the ideal client/customer base (creating awareness); and

7. Being on the ideal client/customer shopping list when they are ready to purchase.

Definitions aside, I do think that in the main, people tend to get mixed up (especially in BBQ situations) because they think that sales and marketing are the same things. Whilst the Sales and Marketing functions work together and complement one another, they are not the same.

In summary, and for the record, it’s the marketing activity that (generally speaking) happens before the sales stuff. Whilst it is first, it then keeps on occurring during the sales process and after the sales transaction as well. It’s a continuous process. Something that most business owners would acknowledge is that marketing is a constant and ongoing process in your business.

Article Writing – How to Write Articles For a Sales and Marketing Blog

Writing articles for a sales and marketing blog requires a rather different writing style. Remember that you are always writing for your audience, so your content must cater to the needs of your readers. Here are some tips that will help you create higher quality sales articles.

1) Marketing principles.

For your content to be ever green (i.e. content that don’t get out-dated), try to write about marketing principles. When you market, what principles are you following? Share them with your readers. And whenever possible, back up your information with real life case studies.

2) Case studies

Theory alone is never enough. to generate value for your readers, always try to give practical tips. Provide proof that whatever theory you are writing about really works. Do you know what you are trying to establish here? You are trying to establish credibility.

For your readers to trust you and to revisit your blog to read more about what you have to write, you have to convince them that you know what you are saying and doing. So walk the talk whenever possible.

3) Other experts.

You don’t always have to talk about your own experiences. You can talk about what other marketing experts are doing, or have done. Use them as examples, but provide your own insight. You can always talk about brilliant marketing stuff that others have done. You quickly realize that there are lessons to be learnt everywhere!

Post to your blog at least once a week so that your readers don’t feel neglected.

How to Mix Your Sales and Marketing Efforts – And Why You Should

A traditional sales campaign typically involves a sales force following up on new leads from website inquiries, calls for more information, purchased lead lists, and referrals. Your sales force (or perhaps that is you) makes calls on potential new customers, completes the “dog and pony show” and then continues to follow up in order to convert that lead into a sale. Usually, this effort is easily measurable. You either see results or you don’t. The process is black and white.

In marketing, measurable goals can appear a bit grayer. But they don’t have to be. Each and every time you implement a new marketing strategy, you must affirm that it is indeed measurable. Otherwise, how else will you know if your time and money was well spent? Ultimately, the key here is to actually blend your sales and marketing efforts together for maximum return on investment. When you tie these two together, measuring the end result actually becomes that much easier.

Measuring marketing efforts can be a scary thought. Just as sales people have quotas, the marketing crew needs a measure of accountability, because every dollar that you spend on creating awareness (and ultimately sales) for your business should deliver a return on that investment. Sometimes marketers get tagged as an expenditure because they’re known for spending, spending, spending. In truth, your marketers are responsible for generating the leads that are handed over to the closers.

There are ways to change this misconception. The first step is to create sales and marketing programs and initiatives that complement each other. Let’s take a look at a few ways of doing this and how you can make this work for you:

1. Brand recognition – Marketers are continually developing a brand or identity for a business, and while this may not result in direct sales, these ongoing efforts are critical in producing sales over the long haul. Consistent, strong branding messages create an image that is top of mind for your customers, so when it does come time for them to buy, they think of you and not your competitor. If you were to ignore your brand and not create a solid identity, your sales would suffer in the long run.

2. Measuring brand activity – While it’s important to create and maintain solid brand identity, in today’s economic climate, that simply isn’t enough. You must create a way to effectively measure the impact of your brand. With the emergence of online marketing and advertising, we can now actually measure this type of branding more easily. You can now add call tracking or click tracking to your online advertising campaigns and gauge to what degree your efforts are making an impact and which ones are falling flat. Don’t just assume that your brand is being recognized. Use it in ways that can measured and calculated with an ROI.

3. Marketing is the lead generation arm of sales – As mentioned earlier, the sales force typically follows up on leads, regardless of how they are generated. But how are they generated? Some may be purchased while others may result from referrals. Still, a good portion of them typically come from your advertising, PR, direct mail, and website activity that falls into a business’ marketing mix. One way to measure these efforts is to create tracking codes, distinct links, or personalized URLs (PURLs) for each marketing piece in order to quantify how many leads a particular campaign may generate. Add language to a direct mail piece like, “Mention this postcard to receive a free widget.” Or create a promotional code that is when a customer requests more information from your inquiry form on your website. These tactics will allow you to actually determine where your leads are coming from.

Marketing and sales are not separate and distinct functions. They must work in synch to be effective and powerful. You may have to get a bit more creative in how you measure ROI, but it is possible to gauge your marketing efforts just as easily as it is to be accountable for your sales tactics. If you continue to look at sales and marketing as a package instead of individual entities, your overall efforts will be easier to measure as well.