Sales vs. Marketing
Within every successful business owner lies an ongoing struggle between the Head of Marketing and the Head of Sales. The Head of Marketing knows that in order to be successful, the business must pursue a long-range strategy of cultivating strong relationships with its clients and customers, by understanding their needs, and by satisfying those needs by adjusting your product and service offerings to suit their changing tastes. This requires an intuitive skillset, lots of patience and resources as the Firm builds up valuable customer relationships.
The Head of Sales, on the other hand, is a pragmatic, action-oriented type who knows that in order to survive, the rent and the employees have to be paid, and the shelves stocked with merchandise. The Head of Sales may not have a gentle disposition, but she will keep the business afloat while the Head of Marketing is building those loyal customers that will generate long-term success.
This dichotomy between sales and marketing becomes a key dilemma as business owners contemplate digital marketing campaigns , and, ultimately, determines which approach will be the most effective.
To illustrate, consider the two most important advertising channels for a business: Facebook ads and Google Adwords. Experienced digital campaign managers know that Facebook is not really a good medium for selling. In the highly engrossing FB environment - where the constantly involving drama of friends, politics and entertainment all compete for the potential customer’s attention, even a visually rich and engaging ad can struggle to attract attention, much less clicks.
And whereas a Google search ad may have been effective at one time, web users have become wise to the fundamental difference between a paid ad (or, rather, 3 of them stacked up like sardines at the top of the Search Results page) and an unpaid search result showing the user what they were actually looking for.
So, no matter what the business owner’s inner “Head of Sales” says, the ONLY path to digital marketing success lies in trying out the Head of Marketing’s ideas for drawing in new customers.
And, what does that look like? The key is understanding your business’ cost structure, which are fixed and which are variable. Which are fixed? – certainly rent, core employees, telecommunications, and others. Which costs are variable and fluctuate with the volume of business? Each item in a grocery store is a variable cost; similarly, food for a restaurant. Service businesses tend to be high in variable costs, because each customer takes more employee time.
Next, think hard about what service or promotion can be offered which is largely covered by fixed costs, and so can be offered as a benefit or promotion without you incurring a significant rise in variable costs. For a yoga or exercise studio, a few extra yogis doesn’t add to the cost of the teacher you are already paying, so discounting an early morning or other hard-to-fill class is a perfect kind of promotional offer. For a consultant, offering an initial evaluation or sample of your service makes sense. A restaurant may offer a coupon for a second entrée at one-half off, particularly on Tuesday nights.
You’ll have some other ideas, but the goal is to create a promotion that offers: 1) a substantial enough benefit to motivate someone to leave FB or be diverted from their current search and 2) actually click through to your offer page. The key here is substantial – both Facebook and Google are environments where it’s difficult to divert people’s attention, so small-scale promotions tend to fall flat.
So the next time you hope to launch a digital campaign, and you’re wrestling between selling and marketing, remember that selling is something you can do once your potential customers are inside the door; until then, it’s a Marketer’s game.