Difference Between Selling and Marketing

Differentiation Among Few Concepts

Marketing as an academic discipline and as practice entails the use of similar yet distinct concepts, which create ambiguity. Four such concepts that lie at the heart of marketing are those of marketing, selling, advertising, and promotion. In this section, we draw out the subtle differences that distinguish each of these from the others.

Understanding the Difference Between Selling and Marketing

Many managers use ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ as synonyms, though there is a substantial difference between both concepts. A successful marketing manager must understand the differences between them. Selling and marketing bring different orientations to business; hence managers are expected to follow different kinds of strategies for business success.

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between marketing and sales. Marketing is in fact the act of ‘bringing the product to market’. Selling is about closing a sale and turning a potential buyer into a customer. Closing a sale is also called a conversion.

Selling has a product focus and is mostly product-driven. It is only the action part of marketing and has short-term goals of achieving certain levels of revenue, profit, or market share. This short-term focus does not augur well for prudential planning and brand building.

There is no attempt to develop strategies for generating long-term competitive advantage. The end of any sales activity is maximizing profits through sales maximization.

Selling is about overcoming objections. It is a one-to-one technique where the seller helps the buyer to reach a decision. As part of the marketing process, you need to uncover potential objections which might prevent someone from buying what you have for sale.

Selling is when all marketing research is applied at all points of sale. The better you know the customer’s potential objections, the better chance you have to make a sale to them.

When the focus is on selling, the businessman thinks that sales should start immediately after the production schedule is complete. Also that the task of the sales department is to sell whatever the production department has manufactured.

Aggressive sales methods are justified to meet this goal. Customers’ actual needs and satisfaction are taken for granted. Selling converts the product into cash for the company in the short run.

Marketing is primarily about research – identifying potential buyers and then finding the best way to introduce your product to them. This usually involves some form of advertising. When you have identified the potential customers, marketers will develop what is called the ‘marketing message’ to try and reach them.

The more this message resonates with what the prospective customers need or want, the more likely it is that you will be able to sell your product or service to them.

Marketing, on the other hand, has a wider approach than selling and is dynamic in nature. Its focus is on the customer rather than the product. While selling revolves around the needs and interests of the manufacturer or marketer, marketing revolves around the need of the consumer.

It is simply a process of understanding and satisfying customer needs. Production and selling are done to satisfy the customer at a profit. Marketing consists of all those activities that are associated with planning, pricing, promoting, and distributing the product or service.

Marketing and sales do often overlap into what is called ‘the pitch’. This is how you deliver the marketing message and is how the marketing turns into the sale.

In marketing, the process starts with the identification of consumer needs and will not end until consumer feedback is taken to measure his or her satisfaction. It is perceived as a long chain of activities that comprises production, packing, promotion, pricing, distribution, and then selling.

Consumer needs are the guiding force behind all these activities. Profits are not ignored but in the process, the marketer is able to generate a larger consumer franchisee and generate profit for the firm. Mind share is more important than market share in marketing.

According to Prof. Theodore Levitt, ‘the difference between selling and marketing is more than semantic’. A truly marketing-minded firm tries to create value-satisfying goods and services, which consumers will want to buy. What it offers for sale is determined not by the seller but by the buyers.

The seller takes his cues from the buyer and the product becomes the consequence of the marketing effort, not vice versa. Selling merely concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting the customers to exchange their cash for the company’s products; it does not bother about the value satisfaction that the exchange is all about.

On the contrary, marketing views the entire business as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising

Many managers use ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’ as synonyms, though there is a substantial difference between both concepts. A successful marketing manager must understand the differences between them. Advertising and marketing bring different repercussions for business; hence managers are expected to follow different kinds of strategies for business success.

Advertising amounts to the paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers. While advertising is a part of marketing, they are actually two distinct disciplines.

Advertising is the act of getting the word out to consumers about a product or service. Across the different stages so the product life cycle, advertising performs three different functions: it informs, persuades, and then reminds customers. Advertising is about using sponsored mediums to get the message across to the consumer.

Advertising is a single component of the marketing process. It involves getting the word out concerning your business, product, or the services you are offering. It involves the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, etc.

Advertising includes the placement of an ad in such mediums as newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and of course the Internet. Advertising is the largest expense of most marketing plans, with public relations following in a close second and market research not falling far behind.

Thought of in this sense then advertising may be thought of as a part of marketing but not as marketing in itself. It is at best a communication between the sponsor and the receiver. Marketing is the systematic planning, implementation, and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products and services.

Marketing is essentially an exchange of value. In the monetized economy, it involves the exchange of value created through goods and services in lieu of money. In the final diagnosis then marketing is a superset that includes advertising but is much wider in scope.

Understanding the Difference Between Promotion and Advertising

In the context of marketing, the third and final ambiguity exists between the concepts of promotion and advertising. Promotions refer to the entire set of activities, which communicate the product, brand, or service to the user. The idea is to make people aware, attract and induce them to buy the product, in preference over others.

Promotion may assume several forms. Promotion is a marketing technique that is used to reach consumers and create awareness of a new product or a service. This includes advertising the particular product as well as the company.

Promotion is a part of market mix elements and is used by companies as a part of their marketing plan. Promotion includes other techniques such as personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, and publicity.

The objective of promotion includes new product acceptance, creation of a corporate image, positioning, creation of brand equity, sales increases, or competitive retaliations. Primarily promotion activities are short-term events that are intended at increasing awareness of the product or service with an eye on actionable behavior from the consumer.

It aims at positioning the product or service as being different from the competitors in the marketplace. Promotion is a short-term event. The primary objectives are to present information regarding the company or a project, to increase demand for a particular project as well as differentiate the product from similar products that are produced by other companies.

Mediums used to promote include discounts, coupons, freebies, contests, events, points (that lead to discounts on the next purchase), etc. Depending on the budget that is set aside by the company, promotions can be cheap or expensive.

Due to the company being able to decide the budget, it is usually opted for small to medium companies. The major difference between advertising and promotion is that advertising is impersonal, as the companies are not directly interacting with their customers.

  • Tapan K Panda, Marketing Management, Excel Books.

  • Philip Kotler, Marketing Management, Pearson, 2007.

  • V S Ramaswami and S Namakumari, Marketing Management, Macmillan, 2003.

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