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  • Keith Hunt, VP Marketing

Is Marketing The Same As Sales?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019


Trucking Companies can benefit from marketing.

A common question I am asked by trucking companies is “is marketing the same as sales?”


Companies are shooting themselves in both feet by thinking that marketing and sales are identical. In fact sales is only one part of the overall marketing function.


Over the years trucking companies have used the term “marketing” as an upscale synonym for “sales.” They think that this change of terminology will gloss over any negativity associated with selling. For instance job postings online and offline state “Marketing Rep Wanted – Great Commission,” or “Marketing/Sales Person Required.”


The rumor that marketing is the same as sales is perpetuated in other industries. For instance, solar companies run frequent ads titled “7 Marketing Reps Wanted. Start Today!” Of course they’re not looking for qualified marketing personnel. In reality it’s a cattle call to recruit door-to-door sales people that are far removed from authentic marketing functions. As a homeowner, if a “marketing rep” shows up on your doorstep you’re not fooled, you KNOW it’s a sales person.


We have worked with numerous trucking company owners that sincerely believe they conduct marketing activities, but in actuality they are really only participating in the sales function.


Let’s explain the difference between marketing and sales. The text book definition of marketing, broken down into simple terms, consists of 4 P’s. These P’s are Product, Price, Placement and Promotion.


This definition is generic to all industries but let’s customize it for your trucking company. Obviously “Product” doesn’t apply to a trucking service, instead replace that “P” with “Service.” Your “Service” should have a unique selling proposition, a feature or benefit that none of competitors offer.


The “Price” should be competitive for the service being offered and realize a profit for the trucking company.


“Placement” is the availability of your “Service” to your clients, such as proximity of your depot to the client’s facility. If you are located nearby, the client will take great comfort in that convenience.


The final “P” is “Promotion” and how you reach your potential customers. This could be any combination of advertising, direct mail, website or trade show exhibits, anything that puts your trucking company name in front of prospects.


The sales function falls under “Promotion” and in many cases consists of direct interaction with qualified prospects. The sales department is not generally directly involved with the other 3 “P’s” but can provide valuable feedback gained from the street.


All 4 P’s must work in unison. Having 3 P’s and 1 “Perhaps” is like a car with a wheel missing, it will not function properly. Operating with less than 4 P’s will work, but you will never catch up with another trucking company that is firing on all 4 cylinders.


One task of marketing is to establish the company brand. Branding is much more than simply giving a catchy name to a company or service. Creating a brand and branding will be discussed in another article.


From this very simplified definition it is easy to understand that marketing has a much broader scope than sales and plays a much bigger part in the overall success of any trucking company. Marketing is involved at the front end and then all the way through the organization.


Without marketing the sales department wouldn’t have any inbound calls from prospects. Instead they would have to find their own leads. It’s the marketing department that sets the direction, softens the marketplace and provides the ammunition for the sales person to convert prospects into customers.


Marketing also develops strategies to retain customers on a long term basis for the trucking company.


Question: do trucking companies grow and then start marketing, or conduct marketing activities and then grow? Answer, the latter! You can look outside of the trucking industry to see proof of growth through marketing. If it wasn’t true, household names like McDonalds, Budweiser, Geico and Starbucks wouldn’t have any need for advertising, right?


Your competitors that are marketing their trucking companies and services are taking business away from you. They are simply beating you to valid prospects, or prospects are calling your competitors first. This is not taking too much from your bottom line, but it’s certainly not adding to it either!


Is this happening to you? Would you like some FREE assistance? If so, please call me at 909-636-4012. I would be happy to discuss your current situation and answer any questions you may have.