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Marketing and sales

Marketing is the process of identifying, anticipating and then meeting the needs and requirements of consumers in order to make a profit. In contrast, selling involves persuading customers that your products or services provide the benefits that they are looking for.

You can therefore see that there is an important difference between marketing and sales. Marketing puts the needs of the customer first. Through market research, it is possible to find out about customer tastes and requirements.

In contrast selling takes place after marketing has helped the business to identify those sorts of goods that customers are looking for. The sales person is convinced that theirs is the best in the market. It is their job to then convince customers that this is the case.

The marketing department of a firm that produces razors like BIC or Gillette carries out research to find out the sorts of shaving developments that their customers are looking for. They ask customers to tell them what improvements they would like to see to existing products and what new products they would like developing. They test market a range of possible products on customers. As a result of the marketing process they are able to come up with the most suitable products.

Having invested so much in customer focused marketing they must then sell the benefits of the new product developments to customers. This involves advertising and promotion to communicate product benefits. It involves providing the appropriate support literature and direct selling to retail outlets that will stock the new razors. The sales force is effectively selling the benefits of the new products. These benefits were developed as a result of market and product research. Marketing and sales therefore go hand in hand.

Marketing is all about finding out what the customer wants. Selling is all about showing the customer that you can please them by providing them with the products that they want.

Marketing is designed to achieve profitable sales. It involves the use of powerful tools to manipulate the decisions of individuals and of other firms in the private and public sectors. This means that boundaries must be set to define the limits of acceptable behaviour.

Some limitations are imposed on a voluntary basis by firms themselves and by industry-based organisations such as the Advertising Standards Authority. But the law must provide the ultimate source of regulation in areas such as:

consumer protection: laws regulating product safety, honesty in product description and rights to refunds and exchanges;

credit: laws requiring lenders to provide full information about a loan including the Annual Percentage Rate (APR); also giving time for borrowers to change their minds;

information: obligation to disclose information held about consumers;

child protection: age limits for the sale of alcohol and tobacco products; film certification.

Overall the law has to find a balance between the importance of profitable business enterprise and the need to protect consumers from unfair or anti-social marketing activity.




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