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20 Entrepreneurs Share Their Thoughts On What’s More Important Between Sales, Marketing and Advertising

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At the heart of every successful business, there is a well-laid and implemented marketing strategy. As a matter of fact, most businesses depend on marketing to generate sales in their businesses as well cover the whole aspect of advertising. However, some entrepreneurs find sales to be more important than marketing or advertising mainly because you need sales to generate revenue to carry out the two activities.

We asked entrepreneurs their thoughts on what’s more important among the three and below are the responses they gave.

#1- Sales-they take care of the rest

Photo Credit: Jason Myers

Sales are most important because without them, there is no business to worry about marketing or advertising. Marketing (such as SMM, PR and SEO) is more important than advertising because it can provide third-party validation and trust in a way that ads can not, often at a much lower price and with a longer lasting impact.

Thanks to Jason Myers, The Content Factory!

#2- Marketing, especially inbound marketing

Photo Credit: Matt Bacon

Generally speaking I feel that marketing, especially inbound marketing is the most important since it has the most potential for long-term success. Beyond that, your marketing strategy is what should inform your advertising and consequently sales. If you are a master of inbound marketing not only are you creating a lot of valuable content and building trust. If you have that kind of trust capital and can use it to build up your brand then things are only going to grow. When you focus on sales and advertising it is easy to come off as a skeezeball, especially in the music world which I operate in. Instead it is much more valuable to be a friendly and likeable opinion leader in your field. Being liberal with your knowledge makes people come to you when they have problems. You get in what you put out, so the more you share and the less you try to squeeze out sales and ads the more you will be able to grow.

Thanks to Matt Bacon, Dropout Media!

#3- A tight balance between sales and marketing

Photo Credit: Andrew Brockenbush

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Many CEO’s struggle where to allocate their dollars. For me it’s a tight balance between sales and marketing. The modern buyer has changed sales, which means organizationally you have to constantly produce marketing content that establishes you as an expert so when your perfect customer is doing their research they discover you. Equally as important, your sales team has to embrace the customer-driven sales cycle in order to stay relevant. My biggest piece of advice, shift to a mindset of personalized selling, create relationships, and direct your marketing on the customers’ discovery journey.

Thanks to Andrew Brockenbush, Beefy Marketing!

#4- Sales and marketing are equal in importance

Photo Credit: Eunice Brownlee

First, I must clarify that advertising is simply a tactic that falls under the marketing umbrella, so my response addresses the sales vs. marketing conundrum. I find that many business owners seem to place more importance on sales over marketing or vice versa, and when sales get tight, a decision is made to cut one or the other. The truth is, you need both equally. Marketing’s job is to deliver sales qualified leads to the sales team. Sale’s job is to close the deals to bring in revenue to support marketing efforts. As such, marketing and sales are what I like to call the symbiotic twins of any organization. The activities of each feed one another, allowing the organization to grow. The best way to be successful in nurturing both of these vital pieces of your organization is to build a marketing strategy that is driven by sales goals. Becoming a data-informed organization will lead you to success and growth.

Thanks to Eunice Brownlee, thirty9 collective!

#5- Marketing and advertising

Photo Credit: Chellie Campbell

Marketing is when you talk and sales is when you listen. For retail or small ticket items, marketing and advertising are most important. You don’t want to spend an hour talking to someone about a $2 item. Be visible everywhere you can afford: TV, print magazines, newspapers, and online blogs, newsletters, sponsored social media ads, etc. But if you have a service business, after you advertise you need to reach out in person to talk to your customer and listen to their concerns. Especially if you have big ticket items because they will be more reluctant to put themselves on the spot and call you. I am a Financial Stress Reduction Coach and I do my share of marketing, but how many ways can you say “I help you make more money”? All business coaches say that. My clients buy my services when I talk with them, listen to their concerns, and suggest ways I might help. It’s not cold calling – it’s gold calling! The money is in the phone!

Thanks to Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Workshops!

#6- Marketing

Photo Credit: Katie Vahle

As an entrepreneur working to quickly grow a new product, we have to invest our limited resources very wisely. In the early days we invested heavily in sales to identify those super important, early adopters. A sales-centric model also allowed us to learn directly from interactions with a variety of potential prospects about their pain points and opportunities to solve those challenges. With a validated product-market fit and a clearer sense of what types of users benefits most from our offering, we are now heavily invested and focused on  marketing, especially inbound marketing. In general, advertising is tough for a young company given the budgets required upfront and uncertain ROI. It will probably fit into our commercial strategies later in our product lifecycle as we work to build broader awareness and establish our brand with our targeted audience.

Thanks to Katie Vahle, Carevoyance!

#7- Marketing is most crucial

Photo Credit: Paul Towers

While most business owners or entrepreneurs will jump immediately to sales as being the most important function of their business my experience tells me otherwise. In reality marketing is the most important function of any business. Without an effective, well thought out marketing strategy that can consistently grow and expand, your audience you and your salespeople will be dead in the water. Even if your business has existing customers and relationships to leverage they will eventually dry up and growth/sales will stall unless you are constantly feeding the top of your funnel with new and interested people. It is also important to remember that marketing encompasses more than just paid advertisements or content marketing. It is an all-encompassing function that covers who you are, what your company stands for, and why you choose to do what you do.

Thanks to Paul Towers, Task Pigeon!

#8- Do it backwards, who gets fired first?

Photo Credit: Robert Barrows

To answer your question about which is more important, sales, marketing or advertising…do it backward: If sales are down, the first thing to go is the advertising agency. The next thing to go is the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The next thing to go is the Sales Manager, and if sales are still down, the next thing to go is the CEO. So, the answer is, Sales is the most important.

Thanks to Robert Barrows

#9- We value sales more

I would say between the three it really depends on your product. For Advice  Media we sell high-end websites to medical professionals and I would say we value our sales team more than marketing and advertising. Because our  salespeople have to make personal connections, then help educate the client, and then help them understand the benefit to the price. However, if we were selling a small price tag product like a beer, an advertisement would clearly be the most valuable department because the low switching cost and to stay top of mind. But if we sold pricier coffee I would say marketing is more valuable because you need to market a lifestyle, benefits, and market the ambiance of your shop.

Thanks to  Joe Sloan, Advice Media!

#10- Marketing comes first

Photo Credit: Kristin Kaufman

To try to prioritize sales versus marketing versus advertising is fruitless. They are distinctive. From my perspective, marketing comes first, as this is determining and positioning what consumers want, need, how they want it, and distinguishing what makes us different. Advertising is ‘getting the word out’ and letting folks know who you are …through channels that matter (social media ads, ratio, pay per click pop-ups, television ads, etc. etc.)..and of course Sales, is the art of closing the deal! It is the face to face or voice to voice interaction that secures the consumer or business’s intention to purchase from you. From my perspective, the question is not of either/or…it is a statement of AND. Marketing AND Advertising AND sales are ALL important AND the most critical link is the ALIGNMENT between all three. The consistency of content, message, and offerings from all three of these functions defines, differentiates, and crystalizes your brand as an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Kristin Kaufman, Alignment, Inc.!

#11-Revenue-producing activities like sales

Photo Credit: Brannan Glessner

Most important of the 3 has to be revenue-producing activities like sales.  Marketing and advertising have their place in the revenue funnel, but it’s extremely important to capture all sales opportunities when they are available. Mastering your sales process to maximize all of your opportunities will fuel growth where you can then spend time, effort and resources such as marketing /advertising to produce more sales opportunities.

Thanks to Brannan Glessner, Express Homebuyers!

#12- Marketing matters

Photo Credit: Laurel Mintz

Marketing is the glue that holds sales and advertising together to be successful for your brand or business. All three are important for growth, but sales and advertising fall under the marketing strategy. You have to have a defined purpose for both a sales team and for an advertising campaign, other important aspects include defined budget, KPIs, and benchmarks for both ads and for sales goals.

Thanks to Laurel Mintz, Elevate My Brand!

#13- Depends on the current scenario

Photo Credit: Saud Ibrahim

They all are very important for any type of business. Their importance for any particular business continuously changes based on different scenarios. For instance, a new business looking to start operations must get its marketing right otherwise they may chose the wrong time, or wrong target audience or wrong niche. Assuming the business got its entry to the market right but couldn’t capitalize on the gap in market due to less effective promotions.  Assuming the business got its advertisements and marketing right but didn’t had competent sales personnel to push the product will also fail. So it depends on the current scenario of business and each are very  important for any company in their own ways.

Thanks to Saud Ibrahim, The Jacket Maker!

#14- Sales without a doubt are the most important

Photo Credit: April Davis

Although Sales, Marketing, and Advertising are all important for a business, sales without a doubt are the most important. Without sales, you don’t have any money to spend on marketing or Advertising since every business depends on its cash flow. A company starts their business plan with a budget and all budgets are derived from the sales team. To ensure the company is profitable, the business depends on the sales team to predict a precise budget. This will then secure what they are able to spend on their marketing and advertising budget. It was Thomas Watson Sr. that first coined the phrase Nothing happens until a sale is made.

Thanks to April Davis, Luma – Luxury Matchmaking!

#15- All are part of a single gear transmission

In a laconic formulation and in terms of marketing if we do no advertising we get no sales, so basically, all these terms are part of a single gear transmission. It’s like asking ourselves to choose from the lungs, oxygen or being alive. Literary, as a company, the target will be the sales so these will take the first spot. Marketing is a part of the company anyway, so we keep the advertising on the last level since here you have to spend some money.

Thanks to Dima Midon, TrafficBox!

#16- The three work together

Photo Credit: Whitney Meers

The ideal situation is when all three elements work in tandem to support the other. That said, I think that while organic marketing efforts are the most difficult to execute and gain traction, they also have the highest potential for rewards. Outbound sales can be a solid way for a small company to start growing business, but sales-driven efforts often plateau and are hard to sustain once a company reaches a certain size. So from there, you need marketing to get leads so you can pass off only the qualified ones to help optimize the sales process. Advertising can be really tough, particularly because in the digital age there’s a lot of noise and it’s really hard to get people to care. With advertising, you can lose a lot of money in the process of learning what works. As far as marketing, I particularly subscribe to the inbound methodology that allows marketers to track a potential lead’s behavior through many channels such as email opens, content downloads and then serve them highly targeted content once they get to know their digital behavior.

Thanks to Whitney Meers, Concrete Blonde Consulting!

#17- Depends on your goals

Photo Credit: Krista Neher

Sales, marketing and advertising are all important depending on what you want to achieve. Marketing is your long-term investment in the success of your business and supports your sales and advertising efforts. People are  more likely to do business with other businesses that they have heard of, know and trust. Building longer term awareness and brand equity pays off over time. Advertising can be a successful short or long term strategy depending on how it is used. More and more businesses are using digital ads because of the specific niche targeting so they can reach their exact audience instead of wasting money on broad advertising. Sales will drive the $$ but should be supported by marketing and advertising. Sales can give you quick results, but many small businesses find that it isn’t as easy as they think. So the reality is that they should work together and build on each other. If you have to pick one, think about your business goals and
balance short-term and longer-term success.

Thanks to Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital!

#18- Marketing is more important

Photo Credit: Steven Millstein

Marketing is more important than sales as without marketing you will not have any sales. Whilst is easy to get caught up in thinking sales (and profit) is the most important aspect of your business if you do not market you are unlikely to have growth and the sales that come through growth. Marketing must come first as you cannot sell a product or service that no one knows exists. A great marketing campaign offers value whilst sales offers buyers the product or service they’re looking for. Great marketers sell the consumer the concept and need for the product or service and it is the demand they engineer which leads to sales. You can’t have sales without marketing. The old adage If you build it, he will come. is a fallacy when it comes to business. The words of Laurence J. Peter Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise are a much truer and accurate reflection of what it takes to truly succeed in business in the 21st century.

Thanks to Steven Millstein, Credit Zeal!

#19- Sales, 100%

Photo Credit: Matthew Tomkin

Without sales, you can’t afford to market your business, you won’t have a good grasp on what your target audience is looking for in the solution or service you are selling and you can spend as much on marketing as you want but if the product doesn’t have a market you won’t get any  traction. A good sales process helps you build a good marketing strategy so don’t waste money on marketing till you’ve proven that people want to buy what you’re selling!

Thanks to Matthew Tomkin, Tao Digital Marketing!

#20- Marketing

Marketing is the most important as it generates the qualified leads that will allow the business to generate sales. It’s important for the business to have a system in place that will allow it to close the sales successfully. Advertising relies on the marketing strategy to make the most effective use of resources and budget to generate an ROI. Get the marketing right and the business will have a strong pipeline of qualified leads that will allow the sales team to close sales and generate an income.

Thanks to David James, Business Growth Digital Marketing!

What’s more important: sales, marketing or advertising? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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