Explained: Sales vs. Marketing vs. Branding

Here is a short overview of how I see the difference:


Sales is the process of forcing something down someone’s throat. If you are very good at it, you can get a surprising amount of stuff forced down, but there is always the risk that at some point the person is going to bring it all back up again. Why? Because maybe they realize it tastes awful or they have taken much more than what they need.


Marketing is the process of at least first asking your customer what they want? By matching what they want with what you have on offer, you are engaging in the process of marketing. It does involve a bit of selling, but mostly it involves knowing your customer, knowing your product, and bringing the two together in as least forceful a manner possible. I.e. as little “sales” as possible. The process of bringing the customer and the product together can involve many methods, including traditional media and digital.


This is the tough one! Branding can be seen as the process of linking the marketing activity to a deeper level with who and what your company is about. Branding, or the process of building a brand, involves linking what is deep inside the company, its culture, employment practices, values and long term vision with the outside world, including how it markets (and sells) to its target customers.


Ultimately, your business should be brand led. You want to make sure that all your activities are tied together on a deeper level. This is something too few small businesses do, especially within the business-to-business (B2B) environment, resulting in a lot of wasted energy. The below figure indicates a common breakdown of how I see the sophistication of various businesses’ “marketing” efforts.