It is common practice for companies to have marketing and sales departments, but it amazes me how the marketing function and department is considered less major to sales and often is combined with a sister department. Some consider the amalgamation a logistics-related cost strategy. While this may be true in some regard, aren’t we unconsciously undermining the relevance of the marketing profession and the value it proffers?
The complexities of marketing in the light of the dynamic business environment, as a business practice contributes to its miscued understanding. The vagueness of ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’ makes it uncontrollably easy for marketing personnel to invariably become salespersons since they are considered in the same department, thereby neglecting the actual function/responsibility of a marketing unit.
Marketing is a business activity that is common yet requires some clarification in terms of professionalism. If well clarified, perhaps, practitioners would accord marketing, the attention it deserves. In a book I co-authored with a dear colleague titled, “Market or Shut Down”, I researched definitions of marketing in sync with what the modern practice of the profession truly reflects. It is no surprise that because there is an abundance of definitions, very few capture the essence and nature of modern marketing.
Though, a common position that most definition insinuate, is that marketing is a lot of things at different times, aimed at creating awareness about the existence of a product and/or service. On the other hand, the objective of the sales department is the actual exchange of goods/services for value (money). Sales is an actual event in comparison to marketing, which is a series of events, that takes the potential customer from a position of awareness to a stage where actual sale is debated and actualised.
So, what then, is Marketing?
Simply put, Marketing is a series of activities, different in nature and objectives that guarantee sales. In times like this, it is even more difficult to determine what those activities are. Yet, they encompass activities that have already taken place for “sales” to take effect. How long a marketing campaign lingers depends on a variety of factors, some of which include: product type, customer demography, trends, and marketing strategies.
In the light of objective clarification, it is no surprise that I always preach the amalgamation of “sales & customer service” as a single department. The relationship between sales and customer service is highly/directly correlational. Customers provide feedback to the customer service department about the products they acquire. Such information is then routed to the production team for strategic planning of future implementation. Whether such feedback is positive or negative, the work of a marketer or the marketing department, which is to ensure that a potential customer is aware of a product existence, thus validated by a sale is done.
Marketers/marketing department can move to other potential customers with the same objective of converting them to loyal customers. The cycle continues for marketing, with sales as the output of marketing process.
Marketers are Informers
To inform is to continuously update customers with product and service information. Avenues to inform increase geometrically in the light of technological development. Influencers and mass media are common tools in marketing. A massive billboard on Sheik Zayed road might not guarantee a sale, but it can guarantee that potential customers are effectively informed about product existence. Once informed, they can be managed accordingly till sales are achieved.
Marketers are Funnels for Customers
Not every potential buyer becomes a buyer. A primed marketer identifies a potential customer and aligns his/her effort accordingly. This is where the marketing funnel comes into play – a concept usually misunderstood for a sales funnel. It is the marketer who monitors customers by building relationships that nurture the action of customers.
Marketers are Remarketers
Just as we require different levels of food and exercises to function as humans, customers require relative level of information methodically to make that anticipated purchase decision. While an initial wave of information is enough for some customers, others require exposure to an amount of remarketing to be primed for sale. This is remarketing – re-feeding the potential customer for eventual sale.
Marketers are Customers’ Confidence Boosters
Students and professionals alike require some techniques to boost their self-confidence. While some of them find it difficult to accept that confidence is not one of those concepts that can be taught, I continuously emphasise that confidence about a contest is a function of the amount of knowledge one carries about that contest. As a male, I do not apply make-up. I am not privy to make-up informatics. If asked about make-up, I am certain confidence will fail me. However, as an entrepreneur and academia, my confidence is primed to discuss business issues whenever I am called upon. It is the function of the marketer to provide customers with information that boosts their trust and by extension, their confidence on a product/service to make an anticipated sale.
Clarifying the marketing function by eliminating its vagueness with sales is an important step in the promotion of marketing practice as a key aspect of modern business operations. The task should not be undermined so as not to dilute the operational effectiveness of the marketing concept. The marketing field requires core professionals who consider awareness creation as their forte. Let us not deprive them of such pride in their work, effort and ultimately, the results they achieve.