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?
Some 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!