In India most of the business owners confuse among the related terms of marketing. This is due to little or no awareness of what marketing is. Sales and marketing means the same thing to most people in India. You will notice that a major of Indian companies call their sales persons as marketing professionals. Till recently, with protected markets and an economy controlled by licenses, the Indian market was a seller's market. Companies were not required to do marketing.
Only off late, due to increased competition, customer awareness, and changing buyer preferences, companies have started realizing that increased production does not translate into higher sales. Since sales has been called as marketing in India, when a real position has been created it causes much confusion.
Here is an approach to let you know what Marketing actually mean. Marketing and sales are two separate and distinct processes, but they are very much intertwined. Marketing exists to support sales.
Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in focusing on customer needs before developing the product, aligning all functions of the company to focus on those needs and realizing a profit by successfully satisfying customer needs over the long-term.
The marketing cycle is composed of four segments:
o Market research,
o Visibility, and
o Client development.
The marketing research includes knowing the marketing environment (external and internal), gathering the market information (about competitors, commodities, supply and demand situations), studying the market segments and market trends. Once the research is completed, it can be used to make a plan to determine how to market your product.
Would you start a business without a proper plan? If you are among the majority of business owners you probably answered no, similarly marketing also needs planning. The Marketing plan includes setting clear objectives and explaining how to achieve them. This will help in identifying new product areas and new or potential customers and also helps in identifying the competitors, their advantages and disadvantages to stay ahead of the competition.
After execution of the plans there must be a proper visibility / communication to the outside world is required and is called Marketing Communications. It is the actions of a firm to communicate with end-users, consumers, and external parties.
Marketing communications consists of four channels, which include:
o Advertising: Advertising is getting the attention of potential and current customers towards a product (or service). It primarily focuses on attracting the customer and is done by using signs, brochures, commercials, direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.,
o Public Relations & Publicity: Public relations include communicating the information to the investors and public to understand the company and its products / services. The higher authorities of an organization will play an important role in building public relations. It is generally done in the times of crisis. Public relations and publicity are not similar; publicity is the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization. We can say that publicity is an unpaid advertisement.
o Promotion: Promotion includes the ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations. It attempts to project the image of the product in the minds of the customer and encourages demand for the product.
Sales: Sales mainly focus on product / service. It involves directly interacting with the people to persuade them to purchase the product by conveying the features, communicating the advantages and benefits of a product or service, and closing the sale. It may also involve delivering the product and collect the payment.
In most situations there are many companies offering similar products in any specific product / service category. Sales involves finding potential buyers and selling their company's product since the other companies having similar product.
The sales goal simply is to beat the competition to get as many customers as possible the sale with little regard to customer satisfaction.
Locate many potential buyers and contact each one on a one-to-one basis through phone calls or personal visits. Understand their company's product features, advantages, and benefits. Find the issues, problems, and challenges that can be solved by the product. Explain how that particular company's product is a better choice for the issue or the problem. Convince the customer to buy the product explaining how it can be helpful comparing with the competitor's product. Get the orders, deliver the product, raise the invoice, and collect the payment.
Good marketing facilitates the success of the sales. Marketing plus sales is the winning equation.