Sales and Marketing: A Love Story?
I know. You are all rolling your eyes at me. Some of you are confused and others of you are thinking to yourself: Heather, sales and marketing drive each other crazy.
I have had the latter thought. Many times. I have been a sales person several times over in the businesses I’ve been involved with and I have been a marketer in my own. Marketing is sort of the ugly step child of business. No one really understands it and it seems like no one is doing it really well. It feels like throwing darts in a pitch-black room and never really knowing if you hit the target.
I started to realize as a sales person how important it was to have excellent marketing. As a sales person, I can pretty much get any product on any shelf. That’s not me being cocky or full of myself, I’ve actually been able to accomplish that and am very proud of it! But what has happened several times over is that I can get a product on any shelf but what happens to that product after I get it there is entirely up to marketing. Marketing is more than a Facebook post or a few influencers talking about your product on Instagram. Marketing is about brand awareness and that awareness is going to dictate how well you do in any account from brick and mortar to ecommerce.
So, let’s start to break this down. In sales, there are a few levers that your sales people can pull (or maybe you’re the sales person!). When you work with any account (physical store or ecomm) a menu will typically be provided to you. Often times, you’ll be required to promote your product by way of discounts several times a year or advertisements in things like circulars (or a banner ad in the case of ecomm). In brick and mortar sales, discount sales (10% off, etc) can be nice to get the customers attention because that promotion will be indicated on the shelf in some way (in grocery it’s often referred to as a ‘yellow’ tag). So, even if a customer is not familiar with your brand, if they are not brand loyal or just want to try something new, this can be a nice way to lure someone in. You might also be in a circular paper that customers get in the mail, via email or can pick up when they walk in to the store. This gives you another point to create some brand awareness. Great. It’s a win. Or is it?
I would argue, that the sales generated by promotions are unpredictable. A company can never really know if you’ve locked in a customer for life or if someone just shops the sales. And that’s where your marketing department (which might also just be you!) comes in. It’s the job of your marketing department, people or person to figure out how to create brand awareness so that when customers see your product in store or on a third-party website (your own website is another story and we’ll get to that in another post) they know it and there is a higher likelihood of them purchasing it. Buzz and awareness create sales- it’s not an equal sale to the customer who just picked it up because it is on sale (that person has a high likelihood of jumping out of your ship for the next sale by the next brand). If customers do not know your brand, they won’t know what it is, and they won’t know (or care) who you are.
So, although we think of sales and marketing constantly being at odds, always vying to take money out of the same collective pot, I am going to urge you to find ways to place them into a very happy marriage with one another. We’ll be discussing and developing ideas around this topic for the next few weeks here on the blog and on my podcast: The Fifth Pallet Almost Killed Me. Available on iTunes.
Start thinking about this! It is a very important conversation in all businesses. What can you do right now to create a more perfect union? Leave me a message and let me know your thoughts on the topic.