Tuesday, 17 July 2007

What's the difference between Marketing and Selling and Advertising and Branding and...

Whilst looking up how people have stumbled across the Gullibility blog I was interested to notice several queries that began - 'what's the difference between marketing and...' followed by either 'branding', 'PR' 'selling' 'adverstising' etc.

Being puzzled by this puzzle is not uncommon and by far the most common 'man in the street' explanations are that marketing is simply a 'posh' word for selling, or another word for advertising. (Calm down you marketing acolytes I know its much more sophisticated than that!)

Now my first recommendation would be to pick up any Marketing Management text book (a good one can be found over on the left in my Amazon section) All of these types of book initiate the reader with 'what marketing is...' sections. Not that much of this seems to have reached the general public or the average business-man even after 50+ years of trying, sorry Phillip. A buddy of mine was recently given a company tour and the CEO commented as he walked past the marketing offices - " Oh yes, and here's the 'colouring in department'" and another example was a large industrial client I was discussing a senior management development programmes with who commented 'yeah we want our senior team to undestand what marketing is...not that we really want to become a marketing organisation'

Now, if you will have listened carefully as you read those comments you would have heard hundreds of thousands of 'thuds' as true marketing professionals collapsed on the floor.

I know what you're thinking...why don't you just settle it with a 'definition'? Well there are a few around and I won't bore you with them. Suffice to say they all run up against Marketing's dirty little secret...IT MEANS TWO THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.

This is where the trouble starts. Marketing is a business attitude, a philosophy, a recipe for success that says - in order for your organisation to do well you need to be 'market orientated' which in turn means - understanding and paying attention to customer needs, being aware of competitor activity, and keeping close tabs on changes and trends in the big wide world.

Marketing is also a 'function' whose managers mess around with something called the Marketing Mix which are business activities that are blended together in ways that suit the 'segement' (target market) that the company is after. This mix is conventionally made up of 7 ps (originally 4)

Places (distribution channels)
Promotion (all forms of marketing communication - colouring in, PR, advertising, personal selling)
Physical appearance (shop / outlet/ airplane / staff)
Proceses (service/ relationships/ complaints procedures)
People (you want fries with that? / certainly madam you may yell at me all day)

So as you can see Advertising, PR, Selling are just one part of the whole job. If you are allowed into the inner sanctum then you come across a whole bundle of specialisms such as Branding - now this is a tin of worms - ranging from the artsy farsty end of - personality and salience to the hard nosed end of brand equity. Shaw and Merrick, in Marketing Payback (2005 :63) comment that “Branding is a topic that can turn a room full of marketers into a herd of experts…owning a brand is like having an orgasmatron, that machine in the film Barbarella” The point here is that Brand is often subject more to management opinion than fact and that the visisble aspects are a tempting thing to mess with if you want to pretend that your having an impact on the business. The Brand however more than the logo, see Naomi Klein (No Logo)it's all to do with your 'experience' and how you feel about that experience.

Other specialisms include Service Marketing, realtionship Marketing, Database Marketing,E-Marketing, Consumer Marketing, FMCG marketing, B2B Marketing and so on and so on. Often peddled my management gurus after they have drunk from the 'differetiation is key' bottle, so in order to be different they come up with a different form of 'marketing' and of course...this one will really make your organisation fly!!

Now of course, experts in this area will be appalled at this vast oversimplification, and yes there are lots of tools and techniques that require highly professional application and deep understanding.

Nevertheless don't be gulled into thinking that Marketing is just one of the specialisms it is made up of, and , more importantly understand that it is the philosophy (properly understood ) and not half baked as Doyle explains in Value Based Marketing 2000 who comments “Some marketing professionals [suggest] the firm should maximise customer satisfaction. But such a view is absurd. Lowering prices and increasing service levels can always increase customer satisfaction further, but such a policy would be a quick route to bankruptcy”.

I think more Swiss Tony is in order - "marketing is like making love to a beautiful woman..." see next post :)

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