Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

Marketing is not sales and yet so many seem to forget that. If marketing is not sales, why would we measure marketing success by sales figures? And if marketing shouldn’t be measured by sales figures, does it have any importance in companies?

Marketing and SalesSome tough questions here, but let’s start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.” But I would take this a bit further and add that marketing is the act of creating desire, want, and need of a brand and motivating the target market to act. This “act” can be a number of things. Yes, the act can be a purchase, but it can also be many other valuable dealings.

You see, a salesperson asks, “What can I do to get someone to purchase my product today?” A marketing person should ask, “What can I do to get someone to want my product for a lifetime and share my product value with others?”

When you look at these two different questions, you see how brands should utilize social platforms. Social media is best used to build trusted relationships. As brands build trusted relationships they continue to deliver value to a target audience. The relationships create awareness, brand consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Continuous communication and delivery of valuable content is what reinforces these attributes. And by the way, these things can be measured, and they tee up sales. So while these “marketing efforts” may not result in direct sales, they absolutely have value for companies.

The difference between sales and marketing is short term survivability and long term sustainability – when done correctly. And this is a value of social marketing – it provides long term sustainability as opposed to short term sales when done correctly. Thus the term social marketing is emerging. Social marketing is a valuable business function. Social media is the technologies that make social marketing possible.

Not surprisingly, you do not hear the term “social sales.” Yes, social marketing can tee up sales, but is not typically successful when going at sales directly. We do hear of social commerce. And social commerce “involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.” Social commerce includes:

1. Loyalty and referral marketing
2. Social CRM
3. Mobile social commerce
4. Better location-based marketing
5. Group buying
6. Social shopping
7. Ratings and reviews
8. Recommendations and referrals
9. Forums and communities
10. Social ads and apps

In most cases of social commerce it is the audience that takes an action. The promotion of sales in social channels comes best from the target audience as opposed to the company itself. It is more authentic and trusted selling. But you can only expect your audience to come rally advocacy and word of mouth as you continually deliver value to them. Don’t push sales in social channels. Let your audience do it as you market to them.

Think about social marketing; ease up on social selling.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand marketing, customer relations, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

7 responses to “Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

  1. Mike wolfe

    Every apologist who tries to detach social media from what really matters relegates the channel to a pimple on the butt of a marketing budget. Social media is “word of mouth”; and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection to sales. In the world of marketing, apologists like Steve are from the past era of when marketers spewed lots of “touchy- fee lie”. BS and avoided accountability and ROI measurement.

    • Not an apologist, Mike. Just a real person working with real brands dealing with the reality and challenges of getting marketers to use social marketing correctly.

    • Mike, I ‘ve been on both ends of social media; the brand and audience. As audience, when a brand contributes to my interests or affirm my values, it perks my interest but when they directly “promote sales” it is spam on my social media timeline. It’s like the difference between a salesman coming to my door rather than someone I can trust or friend who may have a recommendation I need. If I am just looking to buy there are plenty of other avenues that deal with sales and I would look at brands I trust or have been endorsed.

  2. Jim Matorin

    There will be no difference in the future when companies in the future realize that it is all about building social enterprises that utilize social media as a tool for all its employees to build a sustainable business model.

    Mike, interesting POV. Just a suggestion: it would behoove you to count to ten before you post a rebuttal of this nature. Think about the tonality you are projecting. And for the record, social media is bigger than “word of mouth.” If more sales people utilized it correctly they would enhance their business intelligence that would enhance their sales skills. A great tool to conduct homework, but that also requires to take timeout to think vs. sell, sell, sell…..

  3. Excellent article Steve. I tell this to Vietnamese companies I consult for who blatantly sell on social media & there’s little control over staff who don’t know the difference & hard sell / spam through their private social networks. Worse they also try to manipulate reviews which has backfired.

  4. nickie1snyder

    Nice post Steve. Social media does help in driving sales up as it creates a word of mouth, mass appeal increases product information and the thorough information shared on social network encourages customers to buy the same goods and services.

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