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The Essentials of Marketing, Advertising, and Selling: in 5 Minutes

Marketing, advertising or selling? Are they the same thing? Is one more important than the other? Do the distinctions really matter? The answer is No, No, and No.  The differences between marketing, advertising and selling can be subtle and academic, but the overlaps are rather obvious and practical. For me, the differences matter the least.  What matters is the importance that, as an entrepreneur, you must assign to all three activities. The only way to achieve success in business is to convince people to buy your product or service. To do this, you should do a few things, preferably in the following order:

  1.  Know who you want to sell to (and where they are and how to reach them)

  2. Create a message that will make them aware of your product or service and why they should buy yours instead of alternatives 

  3. Get the message across

  4. Sell your product or service

  5. Go back to 1 or 2. Find new customers, create other messages. New messages should be tailored to target existing customers, new customers,  and those you couldn't convince the first time

  6. Get the message across (again)

  7. Sell

  8. Repeat 5-7

The reality may not be that simple as the steps suggests but the steps are essential in one form or another. The key is ‘REPEATING’. No matter how good or popular your product is, it cannot and will not sell itself. It will not market or advertise itself. By repeat I don’t mean doing the same thing again and again; I mean repeating the steps above, but with changes.  For every iteration, make the following changes:

  • Change targets. Identify different customers, segments, geographic areas, and demographics.

  • Change messages. Your messages should be changed and tailored to entice potential customers,  encourage new customers, and remind existing customers.

  • Change/improve products or services. Improve value offering, offer new features, improve quality etc.

Marketing (the planning), advertising (getting the message across) and selling require a plethora of skills – ranging from business (economics, finance, strategy,  etc.) to social, psychological and technical.  That may seem daunting to entrepreneurs and business owners, but it shouldn't. You do not need to be a jack of all trades. You need to be a master of only one thing - your product or service

Remember, every product or service is there to cure a pain. For your product or service, you must:

a)      Understand what that pain is.

b)      Articulate how your product or service will cure the pain;

c)       Articulate why a customer should cure their pain with your product or service and not your competitors’.


Understanding your product or service will help you with the process of identifying potential customers, creating effective marketing messages and selling . If you understand your product well, it should be easy (and cheap) to outsource marketing, advertising and selling activities. 


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Savania China, 2017

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