Answering the question of what is marketing got me to revisit a lot of what I have talked about in other articles on the difference between sales and marketing. What I have found in revisiting these themes below is discovering other definitions of sales and marketing and being able to share these with you so that you can answer the question of what is marketing for yourself and based on whichever definition of these terms you choose to adopt. At the end of the day, I have repeated my own style of deconstructing these concepts and giving you the building blocks that you can use in your own way.
What is marketing and what is sales? More importantly, what is the difference between the 2? I have written extensively about this topic during the course of my articles on sales-and-marketing-for-you.com and I am happy to provide a breakdown of these thoughts on this introduction to marketing. The main thing to keep in mind is that marketing adddresses your customers in a 1:many fashion whereas in sales, you are communicating with customers 1:1. This is the only difference between sales and marketing and other that this, both aim to engage and convert people into customers.
A good way to remember this definition of marketing vs. sales is to think of sales as being for single and marketing as being for multiple people. Oherwise, both sales and marketing utilize spoken, written, verbal and electronic forms of communication. In understanding what is marketing, you should not assume it to be what takes place tradeshows, for example, and not boardrooms. On the other hand, with sales you are more than likely you engage a customer via e-mail as much as person to person or over the phone, for example. Isn't marketing on the phone for polls and surveys similar to what a telesales person does? It is just that with marketing, it is not necessary to end in a sales, simply to create interest and convert people to the mindset of a buying customer.
The role of marketing in engaging people cannot be overstated and is probably what I would call the philosophical difference between sales and marketing. Engaging people and getting them interested in what you are doing is where your sales process begins. The Marketer's Journey, as I have written about in my article on the sales process, is as follows: Unaware, Aware, Interested, Evaluation, Purchase. In order to be able to engage people effectively and take them from being Aware to Interested, you must answer the following questions:
• Who Are My Customers?
Every market is composed of particular individuals with particular characteristics and your job is to find out who your “ideal customer” is that represents the broadest cross section of people you serve. In understanding what is marketing you have to identify the defining characteristic of your typical customer, that person who needs what you have to offer and will respond to your message. Is your prototype customer young or old or is there another better characteristic to identify them with?
• What Are They Like?
Demographics is about the defining characteristics of your target market whereas the question of what your customers are like within the overall question of what is marketing is more about your subjective judgement of your customer's lifestyle, values, likes and dislikes. You should know your customers like you know a friend and this way you will be able to anticipate their needs and know how best to serve them and make them happy.
• What Do They Want?
Selling your customer begins with knowing who they are and then figuring out what they want. It is not enough to say that your customer wants a certain product or service; what need of theirs are you fulfilling and how are you making their life better. Marketing covers the process of mapping your customer needs to specific benefits derived from specific features of your product(s) and service(s).
• Where Can I Find Them?
Are your customer online or offline? Where are they based geographically? Where do they shop? What kind of places do they visit? Marketing is simply about putting the right message in the right place at the right time. A big part of this equation, therefore, is knowing where to find your customers in order to be able to communicate with them (and possibly transact business!).
• How Can I Reach Them?
There is no end to the ways you can reach out to your customers in today's world. Sales and marketing has come a long way since the days when traditional print, TV and radio ads predominated the industry. In creating your marketing plan today a great deal of thinking must go into what kind of communication strategy you choose in terms of your message and medium.
• What Should I Say To Them?
This is the part that most people are thinking of when faced with the question of what is marketing. It is no doubt true that your message is of primary importance and I have said in the past that as long as you pitch someone you have done your job. However, your pitch will ONLY be effective if you have done your homework in answering the preliminary questions I have outlined here.
Look at where you are going to take your message and through what channels. Your message itself then has to be remarkable, that is entertaining, funny, useful or interesting in order for people to absorb and retain it. Moreover, your message should be persuasive in getting your customers to act.
In looking at what is marketing, you should see the goal of marketing being to convert a non-customer into a customer. At the very least, your marketing should engage people and then persuade them to take action; it is only when they act and start taking steps down the path of becoming a buying customer that you can say that your marketing is successful. Then, it is the job of sales to take that person all the way through the sales process and to a close where the customer buys.
The definition of marketing usually does not include the idea of making a customer actually buy from you; if you think about it, it is generally understood that marketing is about creating INTEREST whereas sales is about creating, well, sales! On the other hand, nowadays, can you not use your website to actually sell stuff and not just market it? Of course you can, and you can therefore appreciate how AUTOMATED MARKETING has blurred yet another definition sales versus marketing. This realm also includes automated email marketing to stay in touch with current customers as well as prospects for whom the timing was not right to buy.
Do you have insights, strategies or a story about the marketing mix to share with other readers? Perhaps you have implemented a new strategy that is working really well or have insights into how the market mix today is different from previous decades! Send in your thoughts in as much detail as you like to create a page in this section.