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When does marketing become sales? (Guide to Small Business Ecommerce Strategy)

One of the more interesting observations in Josh Catone’s Read/Write Web discussion of “6 Ways to Sell Your Stuff Online” is how effortlessly he switches between sales channels (Etsy, self-hosted storefront) and marketing channels (classifieds, social networks). The internet, more than any medium that preceded it, has blurred those distinctions dramatically. Take a look at this:


You’ve got paid search, natural search, images, prices, customer reviews, customer ratings, meta-search, copy and maps all on one page. This isn’t some beta product. This is real. This is right now. And it’s not limited to travel:


As we’ve noted here before, you need to understand the right sales and marketing channels for your product. Yesterday, I talked about using a social tool, Twitter, to find a customer and lead to a sale. We’ve even looked at search engines as a distribution channel. Each of these channels has a cost, some of which you can track directly back to the sale and some of which are harder to measure. But – especially in small business – if you’re responsible for marketing and think sales isn’t your job, you’re not doing your job. And vice versa.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. Tim, thanks for the offer to talk more about this topic. It’s raised some questions for me (as I’m sure it’s doing for a lot of people).

    What I see as my biggest question is the dichotomy of the social media focus on authentic content and conversations that don’t include marketing and the ease of using these channels for sales because of the features like customer reviews, ratings, and price comparisons.

    Beyond just the blurring of sales and marketing, how to do companies engage in authentic discussion with their audiences while at the same time looking to include their call to action that will lead those audiences towards a sale?

    The waters are definitely getting muddy. I hope that’s enough of a challenge for you.


  2. Hi John,
    This is a great question. So good, in fact, that I’d like to address it as a separate post. Look forward to an update early next week. And thanks for the great conversation starter.

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