Marketing, Advertising, Sales...
Aren't They All The Same Thing?

Yes, but..um, no, not really, except...well, let's just try and break it down as simply as possible.


Marketing is sort of the "umbrella" of business...it covers all the activities of a business that impact the customers directly. This definition is interpreted and implemented quite differently by many organizations in the business world. In general, many companies have moved to a "marketing orientation", which simply means they are paying more attention to their customers. Note: The accepted definition of a "market" is "a group of customers."

There are four marketing elements of your business that you control:
  • What you sell (products and/or services)
  • How much you sell it for
  • Where it is available to buy
  • How you communicate all the above to customers
The challenge for any business is to "balance" these things so that customers will buy from you, again and again. And of course, it must all done while making a reasonable profit! Putting it all together so that it will work is usually set out in a marketing plan.

Principles of good marketing apply to giant corporations and the smallest of small businesses. That is because one truth applies to every enterprise - without satisfied customers, you're out of business!


This one is usually confused with the (bigger) word "Marketing." Advertising involves getting messages to customers, usually to motivate them to buy something. In larger corporations, it is tightly coordinated with all other departments in order to ensure that the right message is being delivered the right way, at the right time, to the right (targeted) customers.


Sales is also considered to be part of the "Promotion" element of Marketing. This important business function has been around for much longer than the Internet, and remains a critical part of a company's business activities. Today's salesperson has gone through many evolutionary steps, and nowadays you can find a staggering array of people out there involved in "sales." Everyone from the shoe salesperson to an "account representative" (or a team of them) selling multi-million dollar technical systems to large corporations. And everything in between. People still buy from people.

In a typical marketing plan, sales and advertising would fall into a section called Promotion, which covers everything you would do in communicating with your customers.

Marketing doesn't have to be confusing or mysterious. It boils down to taking all the things you can do for your customers and figuring out how to do them the best, most profitable way possible. I like to call it "organized common sense."