Marketing vs Selling? What's the difference?

59 replies
The term "marketing" is used a lot in the IM world (like in the name!). But as an experienced marketer (as in the strategic marketing/advertising agency world), I sense the term is used kind of loosely.

Just wondering what "marketing" means to the people in this forum - seasoned and newbies, alike - and how you believe it differs from "selling," if it does at all?

To me, marketing is a different, but related, discipline to selling (or sales). They work together, but each have a different focus.

Before I share my definitions, I'd love to hear yours.

Thoughts anyone?
#difference #marketing #selling
  • Profile picture of the author Benjamin Ehinger
    I agree that they are very different. Marketing, to me, is putting your content/product/blog/website in front of the right people that may take action.

    Selling is putting more pressure on someone to buy. I used to be in sales and I had no idea how to market myself, but I could certainly sell.

    I think if you market whatever it is you have properly you will not have to worry nearly as much about selling because it will happen. Of course, this is assuming you have decent sales copy.

    Benjamin Ehinger
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by Benjamin Ehinger View Post

      I think if you market whatever it is you have properly you will not have to worry nearly as much about selling because it will happen. Of course, this is assuming you have decent sales copy.

      Benjamin Ehinger
      Really good point, Benjamin. Maybe not that selling is unnecessary if you are marketing effectively - but at least that it is significantly easier. And your mention of "sales copy" is also important - since great copy not only sells, it markets (as many people have suggested here!)
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  • Profile picture of the author hanakuza
    For me, selling = marketing, but marketing not= selling.
    It's cause with marketing you don't necessarily sell a product, you could be just branding yourself or building a relationship with your customers. Sort of like PR. Oh course the goal here is to build up for "selling"
    Selling is just pushing your product to make money.
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  • Marketing = referring products.
    Selling = pushing products
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  • Marketing = referring products.
    Selling = pushing products

    All semantics really. Technically you're selling when you're marketing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    I think that the answer is the same as with most things like this....

    It depends.

    Marketing covers many disciplines. Selling is part of a marketing mix.

    Some companies have separate departments/people for separate tasks, like Marketing Communications (MarComs), Copywriting, Event management, Branding, Partner management etc.....

    Some companies do not.

    How you perceive the terms is related to the structure and workflow of your business.

    Andy
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by Andyhenry View Post

      I think that the answer is the same as with most things like this....

      It depends.

      Marketing covers many disciplines. Selling is part of a marketing mix.

      Some companies have separate departments/people for separate tasks, like Marketing Communications (MarComs), Copywriting, Event management, Branding, Partner management etc.....

      Some companies do not.

      How you perceive the terms is related to the structure and workflow of your business.

      Andy
      Ha! The "it depends" answer is one of my favorites and most often used, Andy!

      Your comments here are spot on, of course. Semantics (as Chris also pointed out) is a big factor here. Even big, global companies blur the terms. In many organizations, sales is referred to as marketing. In some companies, sales oversees marketing, and in others, the opposite is the case.

      No wonder there's confusion.
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  • Profile picture of the author thadbong
    To me...

    Marketing is more focused on getting your message/branding/offer out there.

    Selling is more focused on getting the decision of "Yes" to buy.
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by thadbong View Post

      To me...

      Marketing is more focused on getting your message/branding/offer out there.

      Selling is more focused on getting the decision of "Yes" to buy.
      A good distinction. I agree thadbong.
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    • Profile picture of the author World Marketing
      Originally Posted by thadbong View Post

      To me...

      Marketing is more focused on getting your message/branding/offer out there.

      Selling is more focused on getting the decision of "Yes" to buy.
      Couldn't agree more...
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    If you want to put boxes around the terms you could just say something like:

    Selling is directly focused on getting orders for your product/service.

    Marketing is about communicating the value of your proposition/position/products.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zaheera
    In Marketing people only do promotional work, to only promote products and services. Here, there they never work on follow-ups.

    In Sales people not only do promotional work but also follow-ups is necessary to continue sales.

    zaheera
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  • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
    So here's my take - not that my views are any more valid than any of the great comments here.

    But yes, marketing is all about creating a perception, an expectation, around a product. It includes a lot of various elements - the overall branding (there are entire books written about this, of course, the the best, simplest definition I've ever heard is that a brand is a promise), copy and design (which communicates implicitly and overtly about a product), style and attitude, etc.

    Marketing, if done well, makes selling easier. So in that sense, marketing supports sales. (At the end of the day, after all, it's the sale we want.)

    But as others have pointed out, if you are selling effectively, you are also branding.

    I guess the one thing I see missing (in the IM world) is an obvious understanding of how the two interrelate and work together.

    I see a whole lotta selling going on, but not a whole lot of effective marketing. There are many strong exceptions, of course. But there is an overall sense of "frantic salesmanship" (sorry for the non-PC gender reference) going on. Very much like what used to be the case in network/multilevel marketing.

    Obviously there's a big segment of unsophisticated buyers who respond to that - for awhile. But sooner or later nothing rings true anymore and it's hard to distinguish one huckster from the other.

    Thanks for the great discussion, all. Hope to hear more thoughts.

    Alan
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  • Profile picture of the author EdHanson
    Well it depends on what side of the table you sit or for whom you actually do work for.

    For most clients marketing doesnt really have something to to with selling. Its more like telling people who they are, what they do, what they can offer, what they actually have or where they can find "something". The goal of "client marketing" is actually only to keep "something" in the mind of customers. So if they have a need for "something" they remember the company, product name or where they can get "something". Products are not really "offered" direct to customers.

    Selling is more like taking a product and throwing it at a buyer! You take "something" hype it an convince people to buy it.

    In IM marketing is more like a combination of both. You promote a place where people can buy and also take a product hype it and offer it direct to the customers (and hopefully convince them to buy it).

    My interpretation
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by EdHanson View Post

      In IM marketing is more like a combination of both. You promote a place where people can buy and also take a product hype it and offer it direct to the customers (and hopefully convince them to buy it).

      My interpretation
      I guess my sense, Ed, is that there not much of a combination going on in most cases - or maybe to be more accurate, a lot more time and energy is going into the "selling" part of the mix than the "marketing" part.

      I admit, I used to be like many here, buying lots of products to try and figure out "the code." Today, I can't even remember 95% of the things I bought. (Sometimes I see them on my computer and have no recollection of every purchasing or downloading them.)

      That suggests to me that the marketing part of the equation was not very effective. (It also suggests that I was WAY too impulsive and wasted a ton of dough! LOL)
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      • Profile picture of the author EdHanson
        Originally Posted by howsyamama View Post

        I guess my sense, Ed, is that there not much of a combination going on in most cases - or maybe to be more accurate, a lot more time and energy is going into the "selling" part of the mix than the "marketing" part.
        Yes absolutly you really spend more time on the "selling" part or better creating the "convicing" part.

        I admit, I used to be like many here, buying lots of products to try and figure out "the code." Today, I can't even remember 95% of the things I bought. (Sometimes I see them on my computer and have no recollection of every purchasing or downloading them.)
        Yep - On my USB drive I also have tons of guides, programs and videos from the past few years. Most wasnt very usefull and some was however I also cant remember half of what it was about...

        That suggests to me that the marketing part of the equation was not very effective. (It also suggests that I was WAY too impulsive and wasted a ton of dough! LOL)
        Well that "signs" good "marketers" or good "salesmen" they create messages, notes, images, text that trigger your basic instincts.
        ...

        I found this note a few months back and really love it:

        "An IM is a person who can tell you direct face to face that his next product is totaly sh* but he says it in such a way that you still will be eager to buy it!"

        This is ironic so dont be upset LOL
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    • Profile picture of the author ExRat
      Hi howsyamama,

      Most relevant (in my opinion) from the various definitions listed at -

      Marketing | Define Marketing at Dictionary.com

      and

      Selling | Define Selling at Dictionary.com

      marketing - the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

      selling - to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something

      Therefore, within a business, the salesman is responsible for turning prospects into customers - getting them to place orders.

      Whereas the marketer is responsible for everything involved with transferring that product from the company to the buyer - IE - fulfilling the order.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jan Hurst
    Since entire books have been written on each topic, here's a short verison:

    Marketing is about creating awareness; creating a product/service that is focused on providing a specific target market the features and benefits it wants; educating the target market about features and benefits that are relevant to it; positioning what you are marketing in a specific, often unique way; and answering the silent questions in the prospect's mind. You do this through your promotions, pricing, and placement, as well as public conversations (in the age of social media).

    Selling, on the other hand, involves a specific buyer. If your marketing is effective, the buyer is already "Sold" and selling is asking how the buyer wants to pay for the purchase. If not, selling can be either a process of conversation to find out the buyer's needs and then education to show the buyer the benefits of your product/service (focused on the buyer), or it can be a process of pushing what you are offering on the buyer (focused on you).
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  • Profile picture of the author EricMN
    Product - attention/traffic - sale

    For me everything besides the first step is marketing. I know it's a loose definition but the way I see it, effective marketing is going to optimize sales.

    If marketing is putting your product out there, why not spend money on putting yourself out to those most likely to buy? In that sense the traffic and sale steps are working in tandem.

    So making a sale strictly speaking may not be the same. But they both work to the same goal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan2525
    Originally Posted by howsyamama View Post

    The term "marketing" is used a lot in the IM world (like in the name!). But as an experienced marketer (as in the strategic marketing/advertising agency world), I sense the term is used kind of loosely.

    Just wondering what "marketing" means to the people in this forum - seasoned and newbies, alike - and how you believe it differs from "selling," if it does at all?

    To me, marketing is a different, but related, discipline to selling (or sales). They work together, but each have a different focus.

    Before I share my definitions, I'd love to hear yours.

    Thoughts anyone?
    The simple answer is:

    Marketing= 1 to Many
    Sales= 1-1

    Marketing beats sales everyday of the week.
    If you match the right target market with the
    perfect solution you don't need to 'Sell' them because
    it sells itself.

    Hope this clears it up.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sandor Verebi
      Originally Posted by Nathan2525 View Post

      ...If you match the right target market with the
      perfect solution you don't need to 'Sell' them because
      it sells itself...
      Nathan,

      You wrote two important elements: "right target market" and "perfect solution".

      But, besides with all due respect, it isn't incidental that you need to offer that solution on the proper manner, on the right price level, at the right place, and at the right time. If any of these are missing, you don't create a business.

      As you may know, the Marketing Mix stands for Product, Price, Promotion, Place.

      Here the Promotion part is in question. Promotion are all that activities the marketer applies on the marketplace to the consumer: advertising, word of mouth, public relations, sales promotion (sales material, audio, video, etc.), and personal selling.

      In other words, selling is the part of the marketing.

      Best,

      Sandor
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by Nathan2525 View Post

      The simple answer is:

      Marketing= 1 to Many
      Sales= 1-1

      Marketing beats sales everyday of the week.
      If you match the right target market with the
      perfect solution you don't need to 'Sell' them because
      it sells itself.

      Hope this clears it up.
      This is a really good point that no one has quite brought up yet. But worth thinking about, I believe.

      It's funny you mentioned the 1-to-many and 1-1 aspect of it, Nathan. But in practical terms, that's true. Of course, it's also important to remember that even marketing is 1-1 in practice. One person is reading/experiencing your message at that moment.

      But I agree 100% - marketing, well done (and that is a WHOLE other discussion) makes "selling" much less necessary, or at least, much less challenging.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulthemagpie
    marketing is the bigger picture to what sales are about!

    meaning sales is "part" of marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author kaper7
    Marketing is a process and it includes bringing desired product to prospects. We as marketers often use valuable product to entice prospect to look at our offer. It is a much detailed process than sales therefore it requires more training and experience.

    Selling can be done virtually with less training and experience. You can be a great salesperson and not do well with marketing however a great marketer has the ability to do it both through just marketing.
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  • Profile picture of the author absolutelee
    Part of the problem is in IM the amount of marketing vs. selling differs according to the type of business you're running. In offline consulting, marketing is making the phone ring, selling is closing the deal. On the opposite end of that spectrum, say an AdSense site, it's all about marketing--getting the eyeballs on the site. Very little selling. You're just playing the numbers. Marketing is also more like strategy. Selling more like tactics.
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by absolutelee View Post

      ...marketing is making the phone ring, selling is closing the deal.

      ...Marketing is also more like strategy. Selling more like tactics.
      Absolutee, you have a gift for distillation. LOL Great, simple distinctions.

      A quick observation on your first point above. Notice that one is more about attracting "them" to "you." The other is about delivering something to "them."

      Interesting...
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    • Profile picture of the author Rick88
      Originally Posted by absolutelee View Post

      Part of the problem is in IM the amount of marketing vs. selling differs according to the type of business you're running. In offline consulting, marketing is making the phone ring, selling is closing the deal. On the opposite end of that spectrum, say an AdSense site, it's all about marketing--getting the eyeballs on the site. Very little selling. You're just playing the numbers. Marketing is also more like strategy. Selling more like tactics.

      Good one, Lee. If you were a preacher I would say, "Amen, Brother!"
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  • Profile picture of the author MaxReferrals
    Marketing = getting people to raise their hands.

    Selling = getting people to open their wallets.
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  • Profile picture of the author EugeneA
    Marketing is make noise or to get noticed.

    Selling is to convince.

    Let's just say that if you want to do well, you need to develop both skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author Troy Broussard
    To me it's simple...

    Effective Marketing is the art of presenting your product or service in such a way that people want to buy it without you ever having to "sell" it to them. Marketing appeals to emotions and desires that trigger a subconscious response of interest and intrigue.

    Selling is the actual process or exchange of goods for currency.

    Example: Marketing for a car company is the advertising that shows a fun car with a vibrant color and a single guy with an attractive gal on his arm having a blast, etc...

    Selling is the act of negotiating the price with the dealer...

    In another manner I look at marketing as being subtle influence whereas selling is direct to the point.

    In the online world, in my opinion, an example of marketing would be the banner ad that you place on someone else's site to bring the visitor to yours. You're trying to stir up interest and emotional appeal. But when they come to your ecommerce product page that is purely a sales effort.

    In essence, marketing is about lead generation and sales is about creating customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author RylanClayne
    I would agree with the above sentiments on the idea that marketing when done awesomely is less to do with selling and more to do with informing someone about a product or service. In those terms once someone has been through a marketing funnel they should be:

    A) Fully aware of the product, its advantages and how it fits into their lifestyle
    B) Pre-sold/Pre-warmed to the idea of buying - Their appetite for the product should already be visible

    I would however say that the lines between marketing/selling are not as clear cut as the above and that in reality as online marketers we often too often try to actually make the final sale rather than concentrate on warming the prospect and allowing for instance the final sales page to actually make the sale.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Puddy
    Marketing is the skill of getting people to the site, with a either a sense of curiosity or a pre warmth for your product or service

    selling is the art of converting them when they get there
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by MaxReferrals View Post

      Marketing = getting people to raise their hands.

      Selling = getting people to open their wallets.
      This is what I was planning to say, with many more words.

      Although I would have defined selling as helping people recognize that the solution I'm offering is exactly what they want, and that they should buy that solution now...
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  • Profile picture of the author stevenjacobs
    Banned
    It is finding the right people to sell to by testing, testing, and testing. It is the act of selling by showing people what they want.
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  • Profile picture of the author MrLinkBuilder
    Marketing is all about planning and putting the word out to the public. It 's a way to make the consumer remember and what you are trying to convey across to them.
    Selling - no matter if the product is crap as long you can manipulate your customer to buy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Joe Benjamin
    Marketing is like fishing...

    you can either jump in AFTER the fish to catch it...
    or put a little bait on the hook and let it catch you.

    Selling is like *reeling it in*...

    if you leave the bait in the water and HOPE the fish
    pulls itself into the boat...eventually it breaks free...
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  • Profile picture of the author amritrr
    In my opinion Marketing leads to Selling. You market something to sell it. They are both very different.
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  • Profile picture of the author Xavier Xu
    Marketing is selling through devices, selling is usually in person.

    Marketing is done by the commercial on the TV and selling is done by the person trying you to convince it to buy it.

    At least at an elementary level.
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  • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
    Lots of great responses in this thread - thought provoking to me, at least.

    Here in the IM world, do you think more emphasis is put on marketing or selling?

    As I've said in earlier posts, my sense is that a lot more effort goes into selling prospects than into marketing products effectively to those prospects. Again, there are some exceptions to this.

    To give an example, I know the difference between a Volkswagen commercial and a Mercedes commercial in an instant. I also know what each of those brands "stands for," what their cars promise to me as someone who might buy them.

    When I get to a showroom, the sales tactics of most car salespeople are pretty much the same. Change the name of the car and the place you're sitting in, and the experience is very much the same.

    This is the difference between marketing and selling. And I believe there is a lot less of the former going on in IM, and a lot more of the latter.

    Any thoughts?
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    mentor once taught me, you need to sell the sizzle not the steak itself.

    You can do that, and you become a true marketer I think.

    1) What is in it for them?

    2) Why is your product better?

    3) what Is your unique edge?

    Your ultimate goal should be answer all the questions in their mind they are asking.

    That is marketing. Selling in my opinion is just selling a physical product to make money, but with little benefits for the interested prospect.
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by celente View Post

      mentor once taught me, you need to sell the sizzle not the steak itself. You can do that, and you become a true marketer I think.
      celente, this is true - but the other side is, if the "steak" is no good, then selling all the sizzle in the world is of no value.

      I once created a nationwide newspaper ad for a car that generated over 16,000 test drives in one weekend! REALLY! Unfortunately, they sold almost no cars. WHY? The "sizzle" (the ad) was better than the steak (the car).

      If the marketing over-promises and the product under-delivers, then you have only created a dissatisfied customer - someone who will not only never buy from you again, but will tell everyone else how unhappy they were.

      Steak, sizzle - need a balance.
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  • Profile picture of the author dailyblogtools
    marketing is promtoe other products OR refer other products.selling is pushing products
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  • Profile picture of the author wowcolombia1
    Im gonna tell you what i think,for me marketing its something different then selling because,i think it has different rules than selling.But its almost the same thing
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  • Profile picture of the author daisylovefish
    market is more extensive than selling, in this fierce market, the strategy of market is more important than that of selling
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  • Profile picture of the author Adnimated
    marketing is analysis and based on that formulating a strategy. That marketing strategy is then used in selling the products to your prospects. Pretty simple, really.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin_Hutto
    Marketing = Getting the leads

    Selling = Closing them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adnimated
    Getting the leads is only 10% of the strategy. Because that's the easy part. What you do with them is the REAL marketing. And what makes all the difference. And to do so you need to understand your market and then formulate a strategy. That is true marketing.

    I do agree on the selling. It's basically closing them.
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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by jkhunter View Post

      Getting the leads is only 10% of the strategy. Because that's the easy part. What you do with them is the REAL marketing. And what makes all the difference. And to do so you need to understand your market and then formulate a strategy. That is true marketing.

      I do agree on the selling. It's basically closing them.
      I agree. I'll use my new car analogy again. Toyota (the company) spends many many millions of dollars on marketing - not only go get leads (which they do), but to make absolutely certain that you know exactly what a Toyota is, what is "stands for," what benefits it will deliver, etc.

      You already know you want to buy a Rav 4 long before you enter a showroom.

      That is marketing.

      What then happens in the showroom is sales. A good salesperson springboards from the marketing messages, uses them and closes an enthusiastic customer.

      A bad salesperson undoes all the work of the marketing and turns a prospect off, losing the sale.

      Two different, but related, activities.
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  • Profile picture of the author Xavier Tan
    Selling is part of marketing. But marketing encompass so many things, such as branding, positioning etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author bostoncitymass
    Marketing="Have you heard of blue widgets yet? They are great, they can solve your "insert niche" problem by "insert what products does and how it can benefit them, here""

    Selling= "Would you be interested in purchasing a blue widget?"

    Marketing comes first by informing, selling comes after by asking the person if they want it.
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  • Profile picture of the author clever7
    Marketing is a big waste of time promoting your products everywhere.

    Selling is your reward for spending your precious time marketing your products.




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    • Profile picture of the author howsyamama
      Originally Posted by clever7 View Post

      Marketing is a big waste of time promoting your products everywhere.

      Selling is your reward for spending your precious time marketing your products.



      LOL - clever7, there is a famous quote by John Wanamacher (founder of Wanamacher's department store)...

      "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
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  • Profile picture of the author blillard
    When you are MARKETING the right way you'll never have to sell, as people hate being sold to don't mind being recommended.
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  • Profile picture of the author .X.
    Marketing is a set of processes for creating,
    communicating and delivering value to a
    customer.

    Selling falls under the communication set of
    processes. Good selling is about identifying
    customer needs and communicating the
    solution in a way that prompts action because
    the customer sees the value on their own.

    I don't know who proper attribution belongs
    to but "The aim of marketing is to make
    selling superfluous."

    Meaning, great marketing doesn't require
    high pressure selling at all - great marketing
    doesn't even require a sales pitch.

    X
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    • Profile picture of the author Ernie Mitchell
      Marketing equals foreplay and sales equals orgasm.

      If it's good sales and produces an additional up-sale it's a multiple orgasm.
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      • Profile picture of the author Silent Warrior
        I think marketing is spreading the word and letting the world know you have a product, service or talent available to them. Selling is persuading them to actually pay you for that product, service or talent.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by howsyamama View Post

    To me, marketing is a different, but related, discipline to selling (or sales). They work together, but each have a different focus.
    Marketing is identifying a group of people to whom you might sell a product or service, and an approach to selling that product or service which is specifically appropriate to that group.

    Selling is actually taking that approach with members of that group.

    Basically, a marketer would say "This blender is particularly good for restaurants, because it has a large capacity and is both hard-wearing and long-lasting."

    Then he would hand it to a salesman, who would go to a restaurant owner and say "This blender has a large capacity and is both hard-wearing and long-lasting."

    If they both do a good job, then more blenders get sold.
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    "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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  • Profile picture of the author Targeted Traffic
    Marketing is describing the client's product and establishing the need.
    Selling is convincing the visitor to take some action to satisfy that need.
    Therefore you need to creatively execute both.
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  • Profile picture of the author kennethtang
    Fork and spoon. Butter knife, steak knife, etc., etc. All cutleries. Used for different purposes at different times at a banquet.

    Champagne, caviar, steak, sizzle, sauce, chili, etc., etc., etc.
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