Sales, Marketing, Advertising...
Aren't They All The Same?
Yes but..um, no, not really, except...well, let's just try and break it down, as simply as possible.
Marketing is sort of the "umbrella" of business...it covers all the activities of a business that impact the customers directly. This definition is interpreted and implemented quite differently by many organizations in the business world. In general, many companies have moved to a loosely-defined "marketing orientation", which simply means they are paying more attention to their customers.
Note: The accepted definition of a "market" is "a group of customers."
There are four major elements of your business that you can control, in a marketing sense. They are the Product, the Price, Promotion, and Place (how you get your products or services into the customer's hands). These are referred to (not surprisingly!) as the "4 Ps" of a "Marketing Mix."
The principles of good marketing have value for both giant corporations and the smallest of small businesses. That is because one truth applies to every enterprise out there - without customers, you're dead!
This one is usually confused with the bigger word "Marketing." It is part of the "Promotion" element of Marketing. Advertising involves fashioning a message to customers, usually to motivate them to buy something. In larger corporations, Advertising is tightly coordinated with all other departments in order to ensure that the right message is being delivered the right way to the right (targeted) customers. There are all kinds of ways to deliver the messages, and the Internet is a growing medium that is still somewhat in its infancy, but has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years to a position of great importance to advertisers.
Sales is also considered to be part of the "Promotion" element of Marketing. This important business function has been around for much longer than the Internet, and remains a critical part of a company's business activities. Today's salesperson has gone through many evolutionary steps, and nowadays you can find a staggering array of people out there involved in "sales." Everyone from the shoe salesperson to an "account representative" (or a team of them) selling multi-million dollar technical systems to large corporations. And everything in between.
The old expression "Nothing Happens Until You Sell Something" is still quite true. The top line of a typical financial (operating) statement is Revenue, and in many companies, the sales force is relied upon to deliver that all-important revenue. Sometimes referred to as "the tip of the spear", a professional salesperson has to represent the entire company and its marketing/business plan to the customers. Their qualifications to do that job go well beyond the old "gift of the gab."
People still buy from people, even though the emergence of online buying in the retail sector has created some new opportunities (and problems) on the Internet.