All marketers have a core goal to grow top-line revenue. They may take different approaches and use different tactics, but the desired end result is the same. However, there can be some confusion when organizations try to define which approaches and tactics they want to implement in order to reach their goals.
Sometimes, a company will come to us wanting sales support material, but as we talk with them about their needs, we find that they would better meet their goals by focusing on their brand. Or they may want help with a marketing tactic, but their sales team doesn’t have the right resources to support what our client wants to market.
While we are very happy to have the conversations and delve into what tactics and approaches can best help you reach your company’s goals, it might be helpful to take a closer look at exactly what the differences are between brand, marketing, and sales. While all three ideally work together, having a clear idea of the role each plays in growing your top-line revenue can help you determine where to focus your resources in your strategic planning.
How do marketing and sales differ, and where does brand fit in?
We frequently talk to people who will “smoosh” brand, marketing, and sales into a single amorphous concept when they’re scoping marketing services. But these three concepts are not equal, and they’re not strictly linear. You can have strong sales before you’ve fully developed your brand. You can, if you’re very fortunate, have a strong enough brand that you don’t have to invest much in marketing. However, to get the best results in terms of growing revenue, we recommend that you take a holistic approach to looking at brand, marketing, and sales.
Before you focus on the big picture, let’s examine what each of these concepts actually means.
Marketing centers on creating information and influence to generate awareness, interest, and confidence in your prospects. These are activities and tactics that span the pre-purchase portion of the customer journey, right through to when a prospect makes a purchase. Typical marketing activities include:
- Advertising (print, digital, broadcast, and out-of-home)
- Websites and digital experience platforms (DXPs)
- Direct mail
- Email campaigns and newsletters
- Tradeshows, webinars, and events
Sales encompasses the (traditionally) human-led, relationship-based activities that cover the purchase and post-purchase stages of the customer journey. It uses tools and solutions to convert interest from prospects and customers into revenue. Typical sales activities include:
- Sales presentations
- Sales collateral/leave behinds
- Case studies and white papers
- Road shows and on-site training
- Post-purchase support (technical support, user groups, and online communities)
Brand is a somewhat different beast when compared to marketing and sales. For one, brand spans the entire customer journey, from earliest awareness stages to creating brand evangelists. For another, your company is not completely in control of your brand. Your brand is a balance between how you think of your company and how your audience perceives your company. Ideally, you should have clarity and consistency in your message, offer, and value proposition across all parts of your organization, so that your customers’ vision of you is closely aligned to how you view yourself. As you may guess, this means many activities could be considered part of branding, but some core brand activities include:
- Brand guidelines
- Brand training
- Brand messaging (such as Adcetera’s One Voice Program)
Basically, sales drives revenue, marketing drives margin, and brand helps drive the entire customer journey.
How to tell if your biggest challenges are related to brand, marketing, or sales
So, if some hypothetical marketer (who in no way resembles you, of course) has been guilty of the brand/marketing/sales smoosh in the past, how can they now separate the three and figure out exactly what sort of challenge they’re facing? Here are some examples to offer a bit of guidance.
If your customers are getting different answers when they ask questions about your company or your offering depending on whom in your company they talk to, if your employees struggle to explain how you are different than your competitors, or if people in your industry have an unflattering view of your company, you may need to put some focus into your brand. This may be an opportunity for you to develop some core messaging and train your employees on what it means.
If you’re having trouble getting the word out about your products or services, if you have little to no credibility among your target audience, or if your prospects don’t see you as a solution to their challenges, you likely have a marketing problem. You may want to look at how you can more effectively deliver relevant information to your target audiences.
If you’re experiencing a low success rate on your proposals, if you aren’t seeing much repeat business from your existing customers, or if you just aren’t seeing many of your qualified leads converting to purchases, your sales organization many need some additional support. Putting resources into identifying possible roadblocks to conversion could benefit your company.
Still feeling unsure about balancing brand, marketing, and sales?
While your company or an individual business line can generate positive revenue while being weak in one or two of these areas, you’ll have a much better chance of success when you can interconnect brand, marketing, and sales and take an orchestrated approach to all three. If you’re unsure how to get started, Adcetera can help. We’d be happy to discuss the current state of your brand, marketing, and sales efforts, and how we can help you create your own roadmap to revenue.