Sales is not Marketing

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I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading blog posts on marketing, and listening to podcasts and streaming videos on marketing, and have noticed a huge problem in many of these otherwise-useful bits of information. And that problem is a confusion about what marketing is.

More than 20 years ago I worked in the marketing and sales department of a computer company and early on in my job had one of the directors explain to me how the department was divided. This division still works logically for all sizes and types of business: everything that happens before a client steps through your doors is marketing, everything that happens after that step is sales.

There are many industries that seem to have forgotten (or never learned) this definition. For example, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts for the photography industry that are supposedly on marketing, but that spend 99% of the time explaining how to do in-person (as opposed to online) sales. Although designing a set of thank-you cards to match your sales pieces can be part of the marketing department’s task list, the act of sending those cards (or Christmas cards) is actually sales.

There’s some blur allowed when you’re in an industry that lives for repeat customers, like Grocery stores. But the issue remains that if 99% of your energy is spent on things that are only seen by existing customers that means you’re probably not putting enough energy into the stuff that happens before clients walk through your door. And even though you need to continue to engage with existing clients, it’s a fact of business that without a steady influx of new customers your business will eventually fail.

Cold-calling, direct mail to a purchased/sourced list, trade shows, advertisements, and your website are all elements of marketing to someone who has never stepped through your door. The pretty boxes and fancy tissue paper you use to deliver your product are part of sales. They all blend together as your brand message, but if you aren’t getting enough clients don’t put your energy into picking out new boxes — put your energy into the actions that get new feet in your doors.

<i>Call to action: Looking to engage some new customers with an advertisement, want to show up better in the search engines, or just plain need to update your website so new visitors don’t hear crickets? Call us at 503-399-4774 to discuss your needs. We love helping folks get new business.</i>