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Marketing is not selling

marketing, market, selling, selling skills, mass production, productivity, marketing mix

A modern ‘market economy’ depends on economic growth which is operated by individuals’ decisions as to how they will deploy their personal spending power. In other words, economic growth depends on a high level of commercial activity which, in turn, will generate a high level of employment and prosperity. For this reason, a lot of people, at least until recently, believed that marketing had an important part to play in the state of the economy. However, as the whole world has recently been awakened by the fact that that our planet’s resources are finite, this approach comes under fire from some quarters. Many people, as a reaction, have adopted a different lifestyle in which conservation instead of blatant consumerism has been the most important pillars in their daily lives. Mass-production industries are obsessed by a great drive to produce all they can. The prospect of steeply declining unit costs as output rises is more than most companies can usually resist. The profit possibilities look spectacular. All effort focuses on production. The result is that marketing gets neglected.

John Kenneth Galbraith believes that the opposite happens. Output is so dominant that all effort concentrates on trying to get rid of it. He says this gave rise to tasteless commercials, desecration of the countryside with advertising signs, and other wasteful and vulgar practices. Galbraith has a finger on something real, but he misses the strategic point. Mass production does indeed generate great pressure to move the product. But what usually gets emphasized is selling, not marketing. Marketing, being a more sophisticated and complex process is ignored. The difference between marketing and selling is more than semantic. Selling focuses on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.

In some industries the gospel of full mass production have been so powerful that for many years top management in effect has told the sales departments to get rid of the products and let the top managers worry about the profits. A truly marketing-minded firm will avoid this fallacy by trying to create value-satisfying goods and services that customers will want to buy. What it offers for sale includes not only the generic product or service, but also how it is made available to the customer: in what form, when, under what conditions, and at what terms of trade. Most important, what it offers for sale is determined not by the seller but by the buyer. The seller takes his cues from the buyer in such a way that the product becomes a consequence of the marketing effort and not the other way around.
Published: 2007-04-14
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

www.martin-hahn.net

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