Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Advertising, marketing and sales: Why are they so regularly mixed up?

Advertising, marketing & sales.
If you take a look at the photograph illustrating this article, you'll find there are three newborn babies, cute and beautiful.

Three babies that are identical triplets and each will have its own name, although certainly more than once people will confuse them with each other. It is normal and happens all too often.

With advertising, marketing and sales it happens the same way: They are frequently used on an interchangeable way. It’s not uncommon to hear business owners refer to "marketing plans" when they really mean "sales activities", or want to do a "marketing campaign", when they really want to do some "advertising".

It is a fairly common situation, but it can have important consequences.

Where lies the difference between these three terms?

The difference is that, despite being so closely related, as the three little girls in the picture (yes, they are three little girls), each has its own name and personality. And since they are so different from each other, you should really make an effort to get to know them a little bit more.

You know I like to share with you using day-to-day words, so I will try to define for you, in simple words, what each one of them means for me.

Marketing is all you have to do to get your product from your hands to your customer’s. That’s why we find here the famous four "Ps" which stand for Price, Product, Place and Promotion. Marketing controls and has to do with all of them.

If either one of them is missing, your marketing strategy would not be complete. Marketing is then fundamentally about strategy, planning, and knowledge.

Advertising is communication. It’s about letting people know something about your product, company or brand. It’s about movement of information. Remember that your customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know that you exist and become familiar with what you offer. Regardless of the class or type of communication action you put together to make people aware of what you have, advertising is simply a communicational process.

Sales is the transaction itself. The moment of truth. It’s the change of ownership of your product or service. It’s the process that allows your product to leave your side and become your customers’ belonging. And it could be the most important process of all, because it’s the one that generates the revenue.

And I say the most important one, because if your marketing strategy, with its corresponding advertising campaign, doesn’t generate sales, it could be considered a failure.

Why is it important to know the difference between each of them?

Precisely because if you don’t know what the differences are, you're probably not making the most out of what you are doing and, therefore, are unlikely to achieve the results you’re expecting to, or even worse, you will not be getting the maximum results you could get if done properly.

I'll show you a couple of examples and will try to explain you, in a very simple way, what fails:

  • You have a salesperson who goes out to work without having catalogs of your products: What is the problem? Your marketing strategy fails to consider the "P" to promote the development of appropriate product literature to give support to the sales people.
  • You have a website through which your customers can’t buy your product or doesn’t indicate where they can buy it: What is the problem? Your communication strategy fails, by not closing the circle that should bring every prospective client to where purchases can actually be done.

And as such, I daily encounter situations like this, in which the actions taken show, quite clearly, people don’t fully understand the many (and sometimes sublime) differences between advertising, marketing and sales.

If we were to leave it as a summary:

Marketing equals strategy
Advertising equals communication
Sales equals money.

In your company’s case, do you recognize the difference between each of the triplets? Or do you refer to advertising, when what you really meant was sales?

Related Articles: Marketing: Where can we find the starting point?

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