Expanding on my previous article, “Marketing 101”, let’s look at just what marketing is. Many small business people are sometimes confused about the differences between marketing and selling.
Let’s look at the difference between marketing and selling. Marketing covers all activities involved bringing a product to the customer (or market). Selling on the other hand covers the steps–usually the final steps–to “close a sale”. This is what it takes to convert a prospective buyer into a customer. A good definition I came across many years ago goes something like “saying the right thing, to the right person at the right time.” This discussion with a prospects ends in a sale. So, that is selling.
Essentially, marketing is involves research. Marketing is about identifying groups of potential buyers and then finding the best way of bringing the product to their attention. Generally this is done through some form of advertising or other form of marketing communication.
Once potential customers have been identified, marketers will try to reach them by developing what is called the “Marketing Message”. The more closely this message resonates with the wants, needs or desires of prospective customers, the better the odds of making a conversion, or closing sales.
Marketing on-line has some distinct advantages to off-line marketing methods. Online marketers can conduct market research using search engines or key word searches using specialized programs as well as various other methods.
In a matter of minutes, an online marketer can accumulate highly accurate real time data on what people are looking at, or looking for on-line. The value of this powerful research capability can not be understated.
On-line or off, marketing and sales (selling) seem to sometime overlap in the development of what is commonly known as the “pitch”. The pitch, of course, is how the marketing message is delivered. It’s where the marketing “rubber meets the road” so to speak.
If the marketing has been done properly, then the marketing message will be clearly delivered in ad copy, sales copy or by what ever means it is presented to the prospective customer.
Selling is more closely associated with a process called overcoming objections. It is a much more intimate one to one technique where a buyer “assists” a prospective customer in making a “buying decision”.
Part of the marketing process is to actually uncover potential objections which might prevent a prospect from being converted to a customer. Selling is in fact where all that marketing research is applied at the point of sale.
While many would say that marketing is only a numbers game, it really is an art as well. Successful marketers often seem to have an instinct for how to reach prospective customers that goes beyond simply number crunching. They simply seem to know what makes people tick, or perhaps more to the point, what makes them buy.
With Internet Marketing in particular, there is a tremendous focus on the numbers. How many thousands, or even million potential customers will see an ad or get an email. It’s easy to get the feeling that if only you have a big enough audience, sales will automatically follow.
Unfortunately, many novice marketers have fallen into the trap of thinking that larger numbers make for greater success. It’s no wonder then that so many fail to achieve any success at all. Part of a good marketing plan is all about getting the marketing message in front of as many people as possible, not just any people of course, but the right people at the right time. (See above definition of selling.)
If marketing is done well, this simply disappears behind the neat graphics and sparkling ad copy. The marketing message comes shining through and to stimulate, motivate or excite exactly the right people.
When marketing is done well, products virtually sell themselves: a salesperson’s dream. Really.