Sales and Marketing Are Not Really the Same Thing

sales vs marketing DALL-E mg magazine
Illustration : DALL-E / mg magazine

Although often linked in job titles, company divisions, and corporate reports, sales and marketing are related, but not identical, concepts. Ultimately, the two have the same goal—to sell more products to more people more often—but how they accomplish this goal is quite different.

This is important, so pay attention: Sales is the act of converting products or services into revenue. Marketing, on the other hand, creates relationships and desire. Sales is commodity-driven and always involves a call to action. (Think “Buy now!” or “$30 off this week only!”) Marketing transforms commodities into brands and brands into icons. Instead of presenting the product or service to consumers, marketing brings consumers to the product by creating powerful emotional connections.


In practice, the differences may seem subtle. Consider Amazon’s approach. The company does a lot of selling. Its ads are ubiquitous online and easy to spot, typically following a prescribed formula that resembles products’ listing pages on the retail giant’s website. The company is relentless in emailing users who haven’t purchased anything in a while, inviting them to check out similar products or other item types they might enjoy based on past purchases. Both of those are sales tactics, and they compose the majority of Amazon’s consumer outreach. KFC adopts similar methods.

Now consider companies like Apple and McDonald’s. When was the last time either of them presented you with a direct opportunity to buy something? Instead, both are heavily invested in marketing a lifestyle or experience. They and Amazon use the same methods—advertising, media coverage, newsletters, social media—but the major focus is on how their products will make your life more fulfilling.

Procter & Gamble’s Charmin ads featuring a family of oddly colored, anthropomorphic bears are everywhere, seemingly determined to destigmatize bathroom habits. The Walt Disney Company is a master at creating desire with its aspirational consumer outreach (which occasionally does attempt direct sales). All of these are examples of marketing.

Sales and marketing are equally vital to a company’s success, and both require hard work, especially in a highly regulated, extremely competitive environment like the cannabis industry. In this issue, the mg team attempts to provide some assistance on the marketing front to help start the new year off with a fresh perspective. Get creative, start something new, or upgrade something you’re already doing. And don’t forget to have fun along the way—because when marketers enjoy what they’re doing, the target of their efforts will, too.

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