Why marketing does not equal sales

If you ask 10 business owners to explain the difference between marketing, advertising and sales, how many different answers do you think you’ll get? Based on our experience, pretty much everyone has their own interpretation, and many people use the terms interchangeably. 

This can be tricky when it comes to defining roles and managing expectations. So the purpose of this blog post is to unpack each one and explain how they can work together. I’ll also shed some light on the role our Yellow Door team can play to help you reach your objectives.

Let’s start with marketing. Simply put, marketing is your game plan – it’s the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs.  In a blog post on Cowley, Joe Cunningham explains that “marketing is determining what consumers want, how they want it, how you will strategically go about getting the word out, and… how much money you are willing to spend.”

And while we’re talking about money, let’s touch on advertising. This is essentially marketing exposure that you pay for. Whether it’s traditional advertising like radio ads, TV commercials, flyers and billboards; or digital advertising such as Google Ads and social media advertising, there is a price tag attached. 

So how do these two fit together? We see advertising as being an essential component of effective marketing. You want to have the right marketing plan in place first, to ensure that your ads are reaching the right people and giving you the best possible return on investment. Otherwise you may as well just throw that money out the window! 

When done strategically, advertising can drive customer acquisition and boost sales… however it doesn’t replace the need for a sales strategy or team. And I say ‘sales team’ specifically here, as it’s a separate skill set and function to marketing. Once a product or offer has been created, marketed and advertised, it’s up to the sales department to close the deal or make the conversion happen. 

Meredith Hart also gives a good summary of this distinction in a Hubspot blog post, where she says, “marketing informs and attracts leads and prospects to your company and product or service. Sales, on the other hand, works directly with prospects to reinforce the value of the company’s solution to convert prospects into customers…. While these two business functions are different, they both share a common goal: to attract prospects and convert them to customers, ultimately generating revenue.”

Having a common goal is a key part of our approach at Yellow Door – we collaborate with like-minded agencies and consultants to make sure we have a holistic strategy that ticks all the boxes. We like to start with a marketing strategy, build a strong brand presence with quality content that is authentic and engaging, and then add advertising into the mix. This is done to support a sales strategy, by driving quality leads to a website or online shop.

Another important point to note is that marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be about selling. An article on explains this well: “marketing teams often dedicate a significant amount of resources towards generating attention and capturing eyeballs, as opposed to pushing for a hard sale. On top of that, marketing teams often spend a lot of time and attention on more intangible tasks like developing a brand identity, improving a brand image or launching a public relations campaign.

While your sales force might be measured and monitored based upon how many direct sales they score, your marketing team is more likely to be evaluated on a wide range of different attributes.”

So if you take one thing away from this article, hopefully it’s a clearer understanding of the fact that marketing and sales need to work together to get the results you’re after. As a marketing agency, we can support your sales team, but we can’t be solely responsible for bringing home the bacon. 

Curious to delve into this topic a little further, or find out whether Yellow Door could be a good fit for your brand? Please get in touch, we’d love to chat.

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