I like marketing; I don’t like selling. Various jobs have asked me to perform varying levels of both. One I enjoy; one makes me feel dirty.
First, let me define marketing and selling for you. Marketing seeks to offer solutions for the needs of a group of people. While marketing is targeted, it is targeted at those with this need rather than a specific person. Selling is done to a specific person.
Let’s say I make lunches. Everyone in my office is my market for lunch. I can put up posters marketing my lunch and some people will buy it. If I’m selling my lunch, I go up to a specific person, relying on them to buy it. If they don’t, I’ve wasted lots of time trying to convince them. Think about the difference between seeing a car commercial and going to the car dealership. One is exciting, the other leaves you feeling dirty.
I recognize I am coming at marketing with an idealistic view. I believe that marketing is a worthwhile endeavor when handled in a needs based manner. This is why often the best products need no advertising, relying instead of word-of-mouth and brand trust. While that’s an extreme (it worked for Google), most companies and products can benefit from smart marketing rather than selling.
Now social media throws some new tools in the marketing arsenal while also complicating my definitions (is promoting something on Twitter marketing or selling?). I think the best way to approach any marketing is to focus on building your brand and then letting that trust (and the quality of your products) sell themselves). For instance, marketing on Twitter or on your blog should be more about providing a service to your readers, whether by providing information on a subject important to them or highlighting research in your field. Corporate blogs are excellent tools to show your company’s expertise and provide valuable information to users, ensuring readers will turn into future customers when you have a product they might want.