Marketing's role is to create an
interest in your product or service.
As an independent sales representative I am constantly
looking for new products or services to sell. My typical
customer is a small business that is growing or at the
very least has a solid operation. The business owner has
leads yet they hate to make sales calls or worse they
don't have the time needed to follow up on their own
Notice that I said "has leads" yet hates to "make
sales calls." This is an important distinction between
marketing and sales. I wrote an e-zine article in 2007
Selling vs. Marketing - Is there a difference?
In that article I made the point that marketing
is the method of building initial interest in a product
and then keeping that interest into the future.
On the other hand selling is the method of giving the
correct product to the correct customer in a timely
manner using the process of "Open, Probe, Pitch, and
Marketing activities are used to build brand
awareness of products. They are used to keep the idea of
a product or even the need for a product in the minds of
POTENTIAL customers. Most marketing activities are used
to introduce, describe, advertise, or explain how a
product can solve a specific customer need.
Marketing also includes packaging, testing, and
analyzing the results of particular campaigns.
In short you can't create a sales campaign until you
are well down the road of your marketing campaign.
Marketing comes first. From your first business card to
your first cable TV advertising campaign these
activities stimulate the sales process and in some cases
may even replace the sales process.
As an example in terms of replacing a sales campaign
there are some products that only need marketing efforts
and do not need sales efforts. Let's look at a bar of
soap. There are certainly sales professionals that sell
bars of soap to grocery chains. Those highly paid sales
professionals build relationships within their
customer's organization to gain shelf space. The better
the relationships the better the shelf space allotted to
However once that bar of soap is on the shelf it is
up to the bar soap's marketing department to build the
brand's awareness, create coupons, and share advertising
expenses with local grocers. The customer just picks up
their favorite brand of soap based on what they know and
what they have heard about the product.
In the case of the bar of soap there is no real need
for a professional salesperson to be standing in front
of the shelf. That would be too expensive and clearly a
waste of resources. Occasionally you may have a "product
demonstrator" standing in front of the soap but again
that is a marketing function not a sales function.
Amazon.com is another great example of a company that
doesn't need traditional salespeople for their core
business. Amazon's marketing department drove you to
their website. Once on the website it is up to you to
find the product that you want to purchase. Once you
make that decision their marketing department steps in
again and suggest other similar products for you to
In Amazon's case this is all automatic. The marketing
department has it set up so that if you choose product
"A" then they will also suggest product "B." This is
very slick and very well laid out for the customer.
Small business owners need to fully understand the
difference between marketing and selling. The reason...
both marketing and selling cost money. Depending on the
product being sold, the difficulty and the length of the
sales cycle the cost of both can be considerable.
You could guess that the soap manufacturer selling to
a large grocery chain and Amazon.com both spend millions
"marketing" their products.
So what is a small business person to do? Obviously
there is not a million dollar marketing budget to play
with. The budget maybe just a few hundred dollars let
alone a $1,000 dollars.
Can you get it done for a few hundred dollars? The
answer is YES.
Here are a few marketing steps that absolutely have
to be answered BEFORE trying to hire your first sales
- Identify who is your target market?
- Can you sell your product to everyone or is
your product limited to a select type of
business? Another way to look at this is do I
advertise in the sports section of a local
newspaper or do I need to send a personalized
mailer to all homes priced over $1,000,000 with
three children and at least two $75,000 cars in
- Get this wrong and you will quickly go out
of business? You have to stay focused to
conserve your marketing budget. Test, test, and
then retest your marketing campaign BEFORE you
commit your marketing budget. Find something
- How do your competitors market their business?
- Yes you need to do your homework here. I'm
currently looking at picking up a new customer.
I went directly to the web to locate some
competitors. What I quickly noticed was there
were literally hundreds of competitors
advertising on the Internet - so if you are in
this position and thinking about Search Engine
Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) or just
a fancy website forget it, you're doomed. You
need another marketing plan or you will be
spending money faster than you can make it.
Knowing what your competitors are doing can save
you a lot of time, money and agony.
- Do you know the differences between your
competitor's product and yours? If there is no
difference, which is often the case then YOU,
the business owner, becomes the competitive
advantage and you have to
MARKET YOU not the product.
- What is your ROI?
- This acronym is called "Return On
Investment." If you really know this dollar
amount then you will know exactly how much you
have to spend on your marketing and sales
efforts. Not knowing what this number is... well
you are doomed if you do not know this number.
- Simply put ROI basically says that for every
dollar you put into a specific TYPE of marketing
campaign (marketing campaign equals: print, TV,
networking, radio, search engine optimization,
pay per click internet advertising, etc) you get
back "X" amount of dollars in return. Hopefully
you get "X" + that marketing dollar in return.
Basically you want to put your money into the
type of advertising that will work for your
business - put your money in the one that
produces the highest ROI.
Finally notice this entire article deals with
MARKETING. You just read over 1,000 words on marketing.
Marketing has to happen before you even think of hiring
a sales person.
If your product or service needs leads to begin the
sales process then do not hire a salesperson - hire a
MARKETING PROFESSIONAL. You need someone that can look
at your business and tell you what type of marketing
campaign fits your type of business. Hiring the right
marketing professional can save you and make you a lot