Marketing’s roots are selling

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Old money sign

Here’s a focus point to assist your thinking around whether what you’re doing is marketing or not. Let’s go back in time. Marketing or market comes from old French, marchiet, which in turn comes from Latin, mercatus, which means trading, buying, and selling. It’s got the same root as the modern English word merchant.

Marketing is about getting stuff to sell in its root etymology. If what you’re doing isn’t helping to sell stuff – and by stuff I mean anything that generates revenue, anything that keeps the lights on, anything that makes your business or organization continue to be in business – then you’re not doing marketing.

That’s okay, by the way. Not everyone has to be in marketing, and not everything is about marketing in the sense of selling more stuff. You might be doing public relations or media or community management, but those have different goals than the goal of selling stuff. Those equally important, equally vital roles can even help to sell things indirectly by fostering community, trust, and thus repeat business or word of mouth, but they’re not fundamentally all about the sale, and measuring them by sales goals would be a mistake.

If what you’re doing is all about the sale first and foremost, then you’re doing marketing.

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2 responses to “Marketing’s roots are selling”

  1. I love this post.
    I would add that often the other sub-domains (media, PR, community) in my mind are really about selling stuff too. Increasingly (on the B2B side anyway) we are tracking how those efforts are helping to drive toward more sales and renewals.

  2. The customer sale begins with Marketing. Sales may not like hearing that but it’s the truth.

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