I’ve spent several years now working with, for, and around small businesses, and easily the most common issue that marketers run into is that clients conflate and confuse us with salespeople.
Your business needs both marketing and sales to grow effectively. They aren’t the same, and they shouldn’t mix too much if you want to avoid sabotaging both efforts.
Mixing Sales and Marketing is Sleazy
First off, let’s be clear that trying to push conversions through your marketing strategy comes across as incredibly sleazy.
Nobody want’s to be friends with a sleazy car-salesman type person. More importantly, nobody trusts a guy like that to treat them like a real person, which pretty much shoots your entire marketing effort in the foot right there.
To make a metaphor out of it, if marketing is like chatting with your neighbor about what you do for a living, then trying to inject sales tactics into a marketing project is like suddenly revealing that you work for Amway or Mary Kay halfway through the conversation. It makes people feel defensive and destroys perfectly good friendships.
Breaking it down…
Businesses naturally want to mix marketing and sales because budgets are usually tight, and they sound kind of similar on the surface; both are about making sure you’ve got plenty of fresh work to do, after all. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity ends.
The first thing I want to make sure you’ve heard of is the concept of the marketing funnel. It’s a bit oversimplified, but it works great to illustrate the point of this post.
The marketing funnel is the process by which marketing leads to conversions, from raising awareness, to generating interest, to conversions, where it turns around and leads on to consumer advocacy. If you’re not familiar with the concept, please click on the earlier link, and feel free to do some more googling on the subject before reading on.
Marketing is About Awareness
When you bring on a marketer you’re laying the groundwork for sales. Marketing works to raise awareness about your existence and about what you do; it works at the very top of the marketing funnel. We build up your website and social media pages to bring your brand to a mass audience. This group of people isn’t your customer base, it’s your fan-base or your friend group. They don’t necessarily buy your product, but they’ll recommend you to people who will.
For example; think of Elon Musk’s Tesla; the vast majority of people talking about them won’t be able to afford a vehicle for decades (or maybe ever), but those same people are the ones who made them famous and successful by spreading the word and generating excitement.
Sales, on the other hand, works in the middle and at the bottom of the marketing funnel, working with people who have already expressed interest in your product and turning them into paying customers.
Marketing Doesn’t Aggressively Convert
Good marketing results in conversions, but it doesn’t go out and “make” them.
Sales is about finding people and getting them to buy your product. Marketing, on the other hand, is about making your business interesting, approachable, and human so that your customers will come to you.
Your marketing efforts should be designed to engage people on a personal level and establish yourself as an active member of your community by giving your company a personality and relatable interests. Leave the closing of the deal to your salesperson.