Why Marketing Is Not The Same As Selling: A Simple Explanation


One of the most common misconceptions about marketing is that it is the same thing as selling. I want to help you understand why and how the two things are very different in this post.

It is true that effective marketing may lead to sales and that salespeople often rely on marketers to bring customers to the door (whether that is a physical or metaphorical door).

Historically sales and marketing have been bundled together in job descriptions and department roles, which may give rise to the notion that they are the same.

If you are under that misapprehension, then read on; you should soon see that your view may now be considered somewhat dated.


What Marketing Is

Marketing is something that stimulates the senses to create a memorable image of your product or service that captures the imagination of the general public or your prospective audience.

It can promote your product or service with words and/or imagery that leaves the viewer with a positive impression of your product or service and the benefit it may offer them.

This image may be visual, such as the graphics, photographs or video of the products and services you promote.

Sensual, glossy, sticky toffee sauce being poured over a delicious cake or the sight of someone relaxing in the sun with the sea nearby and a gentle breeze washing over them help you visualise the possibilities.

Auditory elements help to stimulate emotions you would like associated with your brand and help promote action.

Charity appeal videos almost never have cheerful music, whilst destination adverts will promote culture.

The marketing could be tactile; imagine a sumptuous luxury velvet as a fabric swatch or the cool rigidity of steel building your appreciation of the materials used, making the product even more desirable.

Marketing may stimulate our tastebuds, free samples, and tasters used to tempt you and nudge your desire to want to share that taste experience with your loved ones, and the aroma of fresh bread beckons you into the bakery.

The smell of a new car adds to the experience as you are enveloped and consumed by it.

The purpose of marketing is to capture the imagination, spark interest and build desire in your product or service, so your prospective customer wants to find out more.

This may involve creating a great image, or it may mean creating a product that people want and need, whatever it involves though it does not involve selling.

What Selling Is

While it is generally accepted that marketing involves communicating with the customer and persuading them to buy products and services, many, especially those new to marketing and sales, may think that is all it takes to sell.

The selling of a product is a different skill to the marketing of it. Marketing can bring the customer to your store, whether a physical place or your website, but it is at that point that the sales process begins.

Your marketing may have sparked an interest in what you have to offer, but for your customer to part with their money, they have to be sure that your product or service can meet their needs.

Sales is usually an iterative process. Your customer will seek initial information, and then, if that meets their initial requirements or expectations, they will ask for more information, and so the process will continue until the customer is satisfied that the product or service will meet their needs.
The more salespeople, or sales channels you have, the more customers you can service.

By understanding your customers, you can develop a range of marketing materials to meet your customers’ needs; addressing the most common queries as early as possible can shorten the sales process.

Sales then become more efficient. There is also the opportunity to continue marketing to your customers to help generate more sales.

They may be able to buy your latest product or service from you as soon as it is developed or even earlier if you can offer a pre-order service.

It might be tempting to think that marketing is selling in the form of advertising, but it is not.

Overlooking the sales process that follows your marketing can render your marketing useless, and failing to market can mean that your sales team have an almost impossible job.

The Difference

First of all, we need to clarify some terminology. What exactly is marketing? It is what it says on the label – it is about promoting and gaining attention for a product, brand or service.

Many small and medium business owners I have met do not see marketing and sales as separate roles.

Many business owners who have conducted marketing themselves and say that their work is selling – are wrong.

There is a subtle but profound difference between marketing and selling.

Marketing is trying to build a customer base that will remain loyal, coming back to buy from you again and again; that is what you would think of as loyal customers, with repeat buying and sometimes even referrals or referral selling.

These customers might, therefore, actually become a source of your future sales. Sales is more closely related to selling.

Simply put, marketing is bringing prospective customers who may have money to spend or an unmet need into your shop and helping them browse a range of the most suitable solutions.

Selling is identifying the specific product or service your customer needs, helping them understand why it is the best solution, escorting them to the checkout and helping them pack their bag and transport it home.

The after-sales process is a whole other thing for another blog, but that is essentially helping your customer to unpack their bag when they get home and start using their purchase.

The Relationship Between Marketing & Selling

This post may well be considered somewhat retrograde given that marketing has been experiencing a bit of a revolution since the internet and social media became popular.

Nevertheless, the relationships between marketing and selling are not as straightforward as some may think.

It is essential to clarify what anyone who comes from a sales background may assume to be accurate.

As we have already seen, one of the things that marketing does is create awareness of a product or service.

In doing so, marketing can drive individuals to take action to acquire the product or service that the marketing campaign is addressing.

On the other hand, Salespeople provide support to those who are taking action to acquire the product or service.

Marketing With Video

When it comes to marketing with video, there is a lot to consider.

Firstly you need to be mindful of the exponential growth of digital marketing and video marketing.

Whilst it is true that customers are now actively seeking video content from the brands they love, it is also true that in a sea of video content, it is easy for your content to get lost or overlooked. 

When consulting with your chosen video production company, you should seek to understand their understanding of marketing.

Anyone can make a video, and many professional video production companies can produce video content that looks aesthetically pleasing and sounds technically perfect.

However, if the video does not meet your marketing objectives, it becomes little more than a vanity project.

Some video marketing companies such as Bellyflop will approach your video from a marketing perspective, looking to establish your aims for the video.

Others may not take the same approach, which is fine if you have a clear vision of how the video will help you achieve your marketing objectives and ensure the film meets them.

If you aim to use video as a sales tool to help close more deals or sell more products, your video will have a different feel, so the video company must understand this.

Setting the right tone will be crucial to giving your potential customers’ confidence in your or your products suitability for the job.


Your job description is not the same as your job as a marketer.

Your job description is an organising principle. Your job description is what tells the marketplace what role you play and what you do best.

And, it is a starting point, not an endpoint.

Marketing is about influencing behaviour to bring people into your space.

It is not about you getting people to come and take what you already have.

Marketing is about understanding how people behave. You do this by understanding what motivates people and what they respond to in the market.

There is more than one motivation for behaviour. Some people are driven to behave in certain ways because they value this kind of behaviour.

Others are driven to behave in certain ways because it brings them social or economic rewards.

Our job as marketers is to try and understand what behaviours the people who are most likely to buy our products or services display.

We then need to ascertain how best to influence those behaviours and which senses to stimulate to generate the most effective results.

This is why marketing is not the same as selling.


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