Marketing Versus selling – The Big Versus Small

The confusion between selling and marketing: Sales versus marketing

Marketing is one of the most misunderstood terms even in the business circles. Kotler has highlighted already that marketing should not be considered just a way to dispose off anything good or bad a company produces. There are so many aspects of marketing that are not visible to everyone and this is the biggest reason that there are misconceptions regarding Marketing. Kotler has clarified the distinction between the two very beautifully. Asking for a difference between the two is just like asking the difference between big and small, between short and long term and between the iceberg and its tip. Simply, selling is just a small tip of the iceberg that marketing is.

Other functions support marketing

This confusion is old and traditionally people have held the belief that marketing exists to support production. A company produces products. The duty to dispose these products in the market is that of marketing. However, surprisingly the truth is exactly the opposite of it. While a company can outsource manufacturing, what differentiates it from the others in the market really matters. Its market offering and its ideas are important. In this regard, all the various functions exist to support the company in the marketplace.

Most important thing is that before trying to estimate the value of marketing, people should try to learn about the marketplace. Simultaneously, it is important to understand that the company’s place in the market is influenced the most by marketing. It is why marketing is and must be supported by the other functions including selling, customer service, manufacturing and even finance or R&D.

What is the distinction precisely?

Too often people have confused marketing for selling. Marketing is not actually selling or not just selling to be more clear in meaning. Marketing includes much more and the truth is that selling is too small a term to describe a thing as big as marketing. So, ordinarily the people that confuse marketing with selling have a limited understanding of marketing. Another reason that the two terms generate confusion is that it is the most visible part of marketing. However, it is also because of the largeness of marketing that the term remains incomprehensible for most people.

The extensive market investigation and other several things like research and development, pricing, distribution and then advertising to let the world know about the product, are often invisible to the public and remain ignored. Overall, marketing is not just a confused term it is also one of the least understood terms. Marketing in this way is far deeper than selling. However, behind selling there is definitely the power of marketing. It is a far bigger as well as more comprehensive process.

Kotler even says that marketing and selling are almost opposites. His words in this regard are worth noting. If the two are not precisely the opposite, then they almost are. You cannot imagine selling without marketing because as Kotler says Hard sell marketing is a contradiction. Marketing focuses on creating genuine customer value. Marketers must focus on service, value and quality. They should be focused at leaving their customers better off. Hard selling does not let customers evaluate their options before making a purchase. In the 21st century marketers have before them what we call empowered customers. Power has moved from the manufacturer to the customer. This has happened in stages and both technology and competition have played their roles in the process. The customer is neither ill-informed nor powerless. He can quickly move on to someone who provides better value at better prices.

Marketing exists before and after all the other things

Another important way to decide the difference between marketing and selling is to identify the origin of the two. While marketing is linked to needs, selling is linked to the product. Need comes before the product. So, marketing begins much before selling does. Marketers do not create needs but identify them. There is lots of research involved and then comes product development. After that only selling begins. The process of marketing has begun much earlier than selling did.

Marketing in this regard can also be understood as the homework done before a new product is brought to the market.  Marketing determines and influences several things. True marketers try to remain clear and precise about all the things they do. Whether it is product launch, its pricing, distribution, and many more things, all are influenced by the marketer. However, even important to know is that the role of marketing is never over. It starts with a need and continues with the market. It’s a long story.

Selling starts at a point and gets over at the other. Marketing does not. Even after the product is released, marketing monitors results to adjust the product offering accordingly by making improvements. Even if at a point there is a need to end the offering, marketing decides it. So, most people who confuse selling for marketing believe that the task of marketing gets over once the product has started selling. Selling is a short-term effort and marketing is a long term investment.

To make the point clear, even after the product is sold, customer service and user satisfaction remain. So, marketing continues and it involves nearly everything. To estimate its importance is not easy and that’s why the confusion. Now, once the confusion is over, people should understand that marketing starts long before everything else and continues thereafter. Just like a happy marriage; Selling is just the point at which the bonding occurs. Seeds of the relationship were sowed much earlier when the need for this relationship was identified.