The Difference Between Sales and Marketing (and How That Should Affect Direct Mail)

The-dfference-between-sale-and-marketing-and-how-that-should-affect-DMIt’s not unusual for businesses to lump sales and marketing together—particularly when personnel wear multiple hats. And while sales and marketing are related, and should work together, they are two very different things. Understanding the difference is important, and has an impact on how a company engages in direct mail.


Marketing is about clearly identifying an audience and detailing its wants, needs, personality, and pain points. Next, marketing looks at a company’s offerings (products and services, pricing, expertise, capabilities, etc.) and formulates a clear message. That message must effectively communicate how those things work together to match the needs of the audience.

It’s marketing’s responsibility to get potential customers to engage with the company and say, “I’m interested in what you have to offer!” Those are leads. Marketing cultivates those leads to determine the ones most likely to make a purchase.


At that point marketing passes these qualified leads to sales. People in sales department then follow up—knowing there’s a better chance of success. Sales then provides marketing with feedback about how well prospects are prepared to buy. If prospects need more information before being asked to make a purchasing decision, that is relayed to marketing as well.

Direct Mail’s Role

Where does direct mail fit into all of this? Direct mail is primarily a marketing activity—not sales. The purpose of direct mail isn’t to get someone to buy—it’s to get them to identify as a potential buyer. In past years, direct mail was used to pass on a lot of product information. For example: features, benefits, testimonials, pricing, etc. But rising print and postage costs have made it financially impractical to include so much information. Additionally, potential customers have their own questions. They want to find the information for themselves.

This means direct mail’s role has changed. It’s still a good way to engage people and generate interest. Mail’s physical presence is a reminder to individuals to act. But direct mail is no longer as viable for going into detail about products and services. However, it remains a great vehicle where potential customers can get the information they want—your company’s website.

What’s the take-away? Your company needs to have a solid marketing strategy that includes direct mail as part of the process. But it’s important to remember that direct mail isn’t an ideal sales tool. It is an effective way to get potential customers to self qualify as good leads.

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