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What Marketing is Not

We recently covered what marketing is. But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about marketing out there. So let’s look, briefly, at what marketing is not.

Marketing is not Sales

We’ve talked about this before.The sales and marketing departments are usually connected, and sales is an important part of any marketing program. But they’re not the same thing, and ignoring one or the other can cause massive problems for your business.

Sales is the process of actually going out and finding prospective customers and persuading them to buy your stuff. It’s a short-term, goal-oriented process: you find a prospect, you persuade the prospect, you find a new prospect. Although you learn from your experiences, each activity is relatively self-contained; mistakes with one prospect don’t affect sales to other prospects.

Marketing is much broader and inter-connected. Marketing, as we’ve discussed before, is everything that is part of the relationship between your business and the market. That includes sales, obviously, but also covers things like product development, pricing, shipping, press coverage… all of which are necessary to support any kind of sales effort. Not even the best salesman can sell a significant number of units if it’s a crappy product that costs too much and can’t get to the customers.

You need both marketing and sales.. but don’t confuse the two.

Marketing is not Advertising

Because of what Seth Godin calls the Marketing-Industrial Complex, big corporations have for years used nothing but ads to promote their products. Furthermore, advertising is the only part of marketing exclusive to the marketing department: they coordinate with R&D, Accounting, and Operations to figure out Product, Price, and Place, but advertising is all them. So it’s what people most closely associate with marketing.

Ads are to marketing what heat is to cooking: an important component, certainly, and understanding how to use it is crucial. But blasting out thousands of ads and calling it “marketing” is just like blasting all your food on high heat and calling it “cooking”. You’re doing it wrong.

A good cook, in addition to heating things up, has to understand things like timing, spices, nutrition, flavors, and how different foods fit together.

A good marketer, in addition to running ads, has to understand things like timing, targeting and market segregation, consistency, research, and how different components of a marketing program work together.

Marketing is not (inherently) manipulative

Marketing can be manipulative, there’s no doubt. We’re all familiar with the bait-and-switch ads, the “Amazing new product!” that turns out to be some string and a paperclip, the “Must-see movie!” that turns out to be a lousy knock-off of something that wasn’t very good in the first place.

And a lot of small business owners are uncomfortable with the idea of marketing, because they think that, if they’re marketing their business, they have to do it by being manipulative jerks.

So let’s just say it right out loud. Some marketers are manipulative jerks. But you know what? So are some doctors. It’s really easy for a doctor to persuade you that you’re sick, and need more check-ups than you really do. To talk you into using a drug that gives them a higher payoff but won’t help you as much as drinking 64 ounces of water each day. To get you to go to their friend for surgery instead of a more qualified surgeon.

Does that mean that if you become a doctor, you have to become a manipulative jerk? Of course not. Some people are like that, but it’s not ethical, it’s not comfortable, and it’s really bad for business if you get caught. So both new doctors and new marketers are better off being honest, ethical, and helpful. You can be that kind of marketer, instead.

Marketing is not an instant solution

We discussed marketing vs sales already. Sales is more like hunting, while marketing is more like farming.

Which means that if you want long-term benefit and comfort, marketing is crucial. But if you want more customers right now, sales is your better bet. Marketing, overall, is just not good at instant results. It’s a preparation-and-consistent-care kind of thing. It has many wonderful benefits, but instant income is not among them.

What else?

What questions or observations do you have about marketing? Leave them in the comments.