When I tell people I am in marketing, they assume I am in either sales or advertising. In fact, most websites that ask you to enter your profession lump advertising, sales, and marketing into the same category. In a world where few understand the differences between these three disciplines, what is the point of trying to distinguish them?


Selling is an art form. It pairs a deep understanding of the customers’ pain points with the ability to match a product or service to the customer. There are salespeople who push products just to make their quota, but a good salesman builds a lasting relationship with his or her customers. One successful sales call evolves into a lasting career of needs-filling.


Communication with customers is key because no product sells itself. You need to reach your customers in a way meaningful to them and explain what your product is and why it is important. Advertising is all about educating your customer about how something they did not ask for will make their lives easier or their businesses more profitable.


Every product has to start somewhere. Steve Jobs did not just wake up one morning with an iPhone in his pocket. Marketers had to perceive a need for the technology and had to explain to engineers how that need could be filled. Every element of the iPhone was designed through market intelligence – from the interactive touch screen to the positioning it eventually took in the market.

What’s the point? We have three distinct fields that are all related, so why bother splitting them apart? Business is about figuring out what the consumer needs, telling them you have what they need, and selling what they need. Three steps to successful business, all dealt with by professionals with different skill sets and strengths.

Not everyone can be a great salesman. Few people have what it takes to design unique and capturing advertising. While many people can discover what their customers want, only a handful can discover what they need. We distinguish these three business fields because it takes three distinct types of people to fill them. I am in marketing, and while I can work in sales or advertising, those are not fields where I excel.

Is your business lumped into the same category as another? Which category do you share a box with and why do you think you’re lumped together?