These four words are bandied about quite liberally in commerce and business. But it’s surprising how often they are misused and by people who need to know the difference. True, the dividing lines between these disciplines are a little blurred, but let’s try to unravel what they mean.
Sales: This is a deliberate act of transferring a product or service in exchange for money. In sales, a transaction takes place where money changes hands in return for something. The provider of the products or service is called the seller or salesperson and the buyer is the one who pays money for it. In a sale the ownership of the item or goods that are sold, transfers from the seller to the buyer.
Marketing: This is a social process by which an individual or an organization meets the needs and wants of others. Marketing is a business-wide function through which you understand, identify, anticipate, and satisfy customer requirements for a profit. Satisfying customer needs is a short-term perspective but anticipating them is long-term, looking into future wants. Marketing could also be described as a process to create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offerings which have value for clients, customers, and society at large. Strangely, though marketing as a commercial activity is as old as history, it is regarded by many as a comparatively new business discipline.
Advertising: This is an age-old method of communication to encourage, persuade, or motivate an audience into taking some particular action. More commonly advertising is understood to influence consumer behavior to respond to a commercial proposition. It is also frequently used to publicize political or religious ideologies and for other non-commercial applications. These are just a few of the better-known applications of advertising. The best known form of advertising is commercial advertising which endeavors to generate an increase in consumption of a particular product or service. Branding is the tool employed in this advertising application which works by repeating a product name or image to a degree where it becomes embedded in the minds of consumers. The goal is to associate the product or service with certain desirable attributes or qualities.
Public relations: This is a discipline concerned with the image of a client which could be a person or an organization. Public relations uses the media to make clients known and to present them in the most favorable light. It seeks to enhance a client’s image through any means. Image is important. In a company it helps create confidence and increase a company’s sales. In an individual, especially one in the public eye such as a politician for example, public relations enhances the person’s credibility.
Still Going Strong
Making something unknown known has always been the challenge and bane of organizations, small and large alike. Turning something negative or unknown into something positive or popular, respectively, even today, is a service that some organizations provide for other(s). This is an art and a science and is an industry that is evolving but certainly not diminishing.