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To All My Small Business Clients: Marketing Isn’t Sales

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

No offense to any of my wonderful small-business clients (and some larger ones to), but STOP confusing marketing with sales.

I get it — most small-biz owners are not marketing professionals, nor do you have time for it. Call you about a roofing job, painting a house, or unclogging a toilet, and you’re are all over it.

Talk to you about marketing, and… [crickets]

“I ain’t getting no calls!” (says as I look at 20 verified calls on Google Ads dashboard in the past week).

I have encountered a similar dynamic at many other larger companies I have worked for. You’d think they’d have figured this out between their marketing and “inside sales” departments. The marketers are often blamed for sending “bad leads,” and salespeople are blamed for “not being able to close.”

No one seems to get much business though. Huh.

Here’s the thing. Marketing consists of consistent actions over time. Good marketing is not a panacea for a poor sales process, nor does it provide instant-gratification. Marketing is a long-term play, even in this digital, have-it-all-NOW era.

It also involves measuring (boring) stats like conversion rates, click-throughs, impressions and a ton of other (boring) things that many business owners like you haven’t a clue about, nor do you want to.

Unfortunately, marketing can also be impersonal.

Good marketing isn’t.

Sales, on the other hand, is a relational process with a much shorter and compressed timeframe. The stakes are higher, and the results are often more immediate.

You get the call, develop trust with your customer, and “boom” you have some new business! But fail to follow-through or provide impersonal customer service, and “poof” the sale is gone. Most of my small-business clients are in service industries, but this dynamic holds true for a small retailer too; the process is just even more compressed with retail.

Bottom-line, your sales success depends heavily on the relationship built with the customer.

When your marketing is consistent and delivers qualified leads to a great salesperson, it’s magic. Your brand image soars and the beer-fund is well-stocked.

When your marketing is inconsistent and focused on the short-term, but delivers some leads to a great sales person, it’s meh. Your business limps along until a recession or something wipes you out and the beer-fund is all gone (probably replaced with something harder, is my guess).

When your marketing is inconsistent, impersonal and delivers a few leads here and there, and delivers them to a salesperson who doesn’t have the time, interest or skills to form a solid relationship, it’s a nightmare.

Buh-bye business. Can’t even afford a beer.

But we want to go way beyond “good”, don’t we?

Great marketing and great sales requires forming great personal relationships.

Great marketing delivers a great brand-promise consistently over time. It begins the relationship-forming process by speaking to customers as people, not as market-segments.

Great sales reinforces the consistency of great marketing by cementing great customer relationships. It celebrates and catered to each customer’s uniqueness.

(And I am not even mentioning the importance of marketing/selling a great product. But that’s another article for another time).

Marketing and sales are not the same thing. The two work together. Like peanut butter and jelly. (Or, my favorite, peanut butter and banana — shout-out to the King).

Please repeat after me: “Marketing and Sales are not the same thing!”

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