When it comes to entrepreneurs and small business (as well as employees in a corporate company), start talking about marketing, and the next thing you know, the lunch table is talking about sales techniques, advertising, branding, and hey…why not throw in there the dress code too?

The reality is marketing is NOT sales. In fact, those who specialize in marketing (and yes, there are several types of marketing believe it or not), sometimes they HATE sales. And as a salesman some marketing stats and he may stare at you baffled; at best, he may throw out ‘use social media’ and then do a little table talk dance around the subject.

When I coach small business owners on marketing, they often times get short-sighted and think that my job is to create leads. And the answer is: yes, marketing does and can create leads. The long answer is: it is WAY more than a transaction.

When you place a billboard (advertisement), advertisers want to see phone calls and emails in response. The same goes for direct mail, coupons, etc. When you place a post on Facebook, Instagram, or similar to a blog or article, some start to expect the same response…in fact, some start to expect it faster! (Maybe because a Facebook is faster to post than a billboard?) But the truth is…it is MUCH MUCH longer.

Let’s think about this carefully.

Marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. Marketing differs from selling because (in the words of Harvard Business School’s retired professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt) “Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariable does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.” In other words, marketing has less to do with getting customers to pay for your product as it does developing a demand for that product and fulfilling the customer’s needs.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/marketing.html

If we pick that statement apart, marketing is the relationship we create with our customers. It is getting on the internet, researching your target audience, striving to connect with them, and then trying to establish with them in a non-creepy, non-confrontational, – way. Because…when you think about it, you aren’t trying to sell anything to them at this point. You have a product or service and you are trying to figure out what they like or hate about your product, what they get excited about, and if you are the right fit for them.

Think of marketing this way: marketing (especially marketing on social media outlets) is the equivalent of the new kid in town sitting down at a coffee shop to ‘get to know’ his neighbors. He is also a ‘real estate agent’. If he sits down across from a stranger and my name is Chris and I’m a real estate agent. can I help you find a house?’, this would really creep out the person who is just trying to have a cup of coffee.

Instead, the proper way to establish a relationship and good, trustworthy to sit down at a coffee shop every and see who else sits down every day. After a week, he slips on over and casually says, ‘hi, I’m Chris. I see you here all the time! You must live near here!’ and wait to see if the other If they do, they will most likely have a conversation about ‘what each other does’ for a living, and now, you have succeeded in the marketing role. The sale happens once you establish what that person NEEDS. If they don’t need a home, sorry Chris, your marketing effort was in vain. If they DO need a real estate agent…you win! (and perhaps if you are a good salesman, you win the sale too!)

What does this mean for strategy?

Sometimes the above relationship is by accident. But when you go out of your way to CREATE this relationship and opportunity…this is a marketing strategy. WHERE will you sit? At the same table? Same coffee shop? Maybe a coffee shop and wine shop every other day? Maybe your target market is a taco lover. Maybe they speak in code. Maybe every day you carry a car magazine to your favorite bar, and you talk to the bartender about fixing engines and hope someone overhears and needs their oil changed. Starting to get the idea?

Once these relationships are formed and your audience and new friends and groupies are like… your services SOLVE ALL MY PROBLEMS, then you start to sell them. You start to list out why you are valuable and worth buying. You tell them why your services are and list your benefits. The sales process is to show your new audience that the ‘juice is worth the squeeze’ so to speak. And the better you can solve their problem: the more you can charge. (but that’s a separate article about sales)

So, that is marketing. What are YOU doing? What is your strategy? What is your goal? Have you written it down? Does it happen by accident? Are you even doing it at all? Are you ‘thinking’ that you are marketing, but really are you trying to advertise->sell?

Read the original on my linkedIn HERE