Marketing Strategy

Marketing isn’t about sales


I’ve talked before about what I think marketing is all about. Or, more accurately, the stages that it goes through to connect consumer to product.

This post is a refinement, a clarification, an evolution. An assertion that marketing is not about sales. And that it never has been.

Does that offend?

Let’s face it, there are people out there who believe that marketing is about sales. About connecting the consumer to the bottom line by way of a product/service. About spreadsheets and P+L.

But to believe that is to have the whole thing backwards.

Look at it another way. You want a tin of beans. You hit the supermarket. The cashier processes the sale through the checkout by scanning the tin with a barcode scanner.

The scanner goes beep-beep.

Is marketing ‘beep-beep’?

No, it’s not.

Marketing is everything that has gone before. It’s the sum total of the conscious and subconscious primers that made you pick that very brand of bean.

It’s the process that made you think you’d give a rival brand a try because… Well you maybe don’t know why, but it seemed like a rather good idea at the time.

Marketing is behavioural change.

Leave sales behind and look at the non-profit sector where you, as the consumer, as being asked to share attention with an organisation focussed on a specific outcome.

There may not be a financial bottom line. You might be being asked to give up an hour of your time to plant trees in the community.

You might be being asked to take part in the global guerilla gardening movement.

The common thread is that you’re being asked to do something that you weren’t doing before.

You’re being asked to change your behaviour.

Not to make beep-beep noises.

The beep-beep noises can come later, once you’ve changed your behaviour. When you buy one of the non-profit’s branded T-shirts or make a donation to their fundraising drives. Once you’ve developed that shared attention and integrated it into your life.

Back in the supermarket, you have to be persuaded to pick up that bean can in the first instance. You have to be persuaded to modify your behaviour, either at a conscious or subconscious level, so that you get to try that new bean brand and stop buying your old one.

Sales are incidental. Behaviour change is where it’s at. You can’t beep-beep without changing behaviours.

And if you, as a marketer, don’t change behaviours, your new product won’t beep-beep. And if it doesn’t beep-beep, your coffers won’t go ‘ching-ching’. And if your coffers don’t go ‘ching-ching’, well, that’s all, folks.

So we’re agreed now; marketing’s about behavioural change, not sales?

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6 thoughts on “Marketing isn’t about sales

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