What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Entrepreneurs & Their Communities September 16, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Oftentimes, business owners confuse the act of selling their products to a customer as marketing. In actuality, selling is a small portion of the entire marketing scheme. Selling is the transaction where a product is transferred from the business owner to a buyer for a price. In contrast, marketing is a process that involves several steps ranging from the generation of a product idea to the delivery of that product to the customer. Even after delivery of the product to the customer, the marketing process continues with direct communication with the customer to obtain feedback about the product. In the business world, marketing is defined by the four P's:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place, and
  • Promotion.

It is the process of planning and executing the product idea with the goal of customer satisfaction. Marketing is a proactive approach done often before the product or service is produced and sold. This allows business owners to behave like price-makers. In other words, marketing should not be an afterthought of production but should be considered well before production takes place. For agriculture, value-added business owners often think about marketing their product when it is ready to be sold. Since many food and agricultural products are perishable, this often puts farmers at the mercy of their customers. This puts farmers in the position of being price-takers with little control of the price they will receive and/or the quantity they will sell. By thinking ahead, this gives the owner more control over business profitability.

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    This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.