Friday, March 03, 2006

Marketing is not equal to Advertising or Sales

I am a member of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association, and while attending a meeting last week, I heard a common issue - that people (generally Engineers) think that marketing and advertising are synonymous. Though this is a step up from those in the general public that think marketing is the same as sales, it is still incorrect.

Marketing vs. Sales

Marketing involves dealing with matching products that a company makes with what customers want to buy. But so does sales. The difference is in scope and timing.

Marketing's focus is supposed to be larger scope - what I call a "one to many" communication. What products would many people want to buy, and how do we communicate about these products to all these people. In sales the scope is much smaller, a "one to one" communication. They are concerned with what products does this particular customer want to buy, and how do I communicate the benefits from our product to him in a way that convinces him it is the right product? Actually, marketing should have been the one that connected that sales person to the prospect (through getting leads), and given the salesperson the tools they need (information about what to say, sales literature to leave behind, competitive information, etc.) to allow the sales person to do their job.

Timing is also different. Marketing is concerned about a much longer term (how to make a product most profitable over its life), where sales is concerned about closing individual sales this quarter.

Marketing vs. Advertising

Ok, without a doubt, advertising is a part of marketing. But it is just one tool that marketers may use (and many marketers don't use this tool, and are still quite successful). So what is marketing then?

Most marketing text books talk about the 4-Ps - Product, Price, Place, and Promotion - as the main functions of marketing. They are:

Product - basically, do you have products that meet the specific needs of the customer? Marketing should be involved in product development and acts as the voice of the customer. Marketing obtains data on what the customers want (market research) and bringing this information back to the people who make the product (engineers, designers, developers, etc.).

Price - this is whether you are selling for the right price. Customers generally want as inexpensive as possible, where companies want to make as much profit as possible, so the challenge is to balance this.

Place - basically this is whether you have the products for sale where the customer wants to buy it. Choosing whether to sell through stores (and where the stores should go), online, direct, distributors, etc., or some combination of these, is all part of this.

Promotion - basically this is whether you are getting the correct message about your product and what it can do to people who may want to buy. Advertising is one method of doing this (but not the only one) and a lot of thought needs to be put into what you say (the message) for all this promotion.

So, as you can see, advertising is not equal to marketing, as advertising is just a very small part of what someone in marketing does.


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