Sales vs Marketing vs Advertising – What’s the difference, anyhow?

There are all kinds of jargon-heavy explanations for the difference between sales, marketing and advertising which Marketing Professors and textbook writers like to drone on with.

But let’s keep it simple.

Think of it like a mix tape. (I’m a big fan of the film High Fidelity. If you haven’t seen it, do your self a favour!)

What’s On Your Mix Tape?

Well, you might, say, kick things off with Welcome to the Jungle by Guns’n'Roses; then something from Iron Maiden to keep the tempo up (Aces High, for instance); then one or two rockers like AC/DC‘s Rising Power and Bark at the Moon by Ozzy.

Then begins the transition into the slowin-things-down-a-bit-but-still-got-big-balls with a power ballad by, say, Bon Jovi. Never Say Goodbye would be a good choice here, methinks. Then wrap up Side A by swaying left to right to Poison‘s Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

Then flip that puppy over and start to gently wind it back up again with Pearl Jam and Alive followed by Metallica with Fade to Black.

Then it’s Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue to get back that up-beat feel. Capped off with Early Warning from the Baby Animals and the opportunity for one helluva air guitar session to Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani.

That whole tape is your Marketing Mix.

Sales is just one track on that tape. Advertising is another.

What Else Can We Add to the Mix?

Glad you asked. Other timeless classics include consumer research, competition analysis, advertising (print, online, radio, tv, etc.), public relations, sponsorships, social media, email campaigns, video, search marketing & SEO, distribution channels and mechanisms, pricing strategies, customer support & feedback, referral programs… and a whole lot more.

But they’re just tracks on your mix tape.

You can re-do your mix tape and change the order if you want to. You can have lots of different tapes with lots of combinations to suit different moods and events. (Seriously, (re)watch High Fidelity)

What You Can’t Do, Though…

… is have a cassette full of advertising hits – even if they were platinum in 30 countries – and call it your marketing mix. What you have there is a major cash haemorrage waiting to happen. Sure, you’ll attract eyeballs, generate leads and make sales. But is it sustainable? Is the only way to scale things to spend more on… wait for it… advertising?

Nor can you load that sucker up with the greatest sales songs of all time and claim to have a marketing plan for your business. You don’t. You have a sales machine on amphetamines; a sales team on Ritalin, gnawing on anything and anyone that moves, pulling their hair out that they won’t make a commission this month because they’re only getting a handful of leads per week. Yet no one can work out why… ???

These aren’t mix tapes. They’re albums by a single artist or group.



P.S. Got nothing better to do than watch YouTube right now? Get some good music lovin’

Side A

Side B

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