What’s the difference between selling and marketing, and why you need to know!

difference between selling and marketing
What’s the difference between selling and marketing?

If you are making or commissioning animated video for your business, you need to be very clear what that video needs to be doing. Are you selling, or marketing? Not sure?

What is the difference between selling and marketing, and what is the most effective approach for your business?

Selling, is shifting stock
Selling, is shifting stock

What is selling?

SELLING focusses on the needs of the business to make money, and seeks to influence the buyer through promotional campaigns to buy a product or service. I have a product and I’m looking for someone to buy it. The focus is on the product, rather than the buyer, and the selling strategy is to concentrate on the product and its benefits over the competition. Selling is for shifting inventory, it’s a small part of the marketing cycle. If marketing has been done correctly selling is easy.

A video aimed at selling would come further down the customer purchase process.

Marketing is about helping the customer
Marketing is about helping the customer

What is Marketing?

MARKETING focuses on the consumer’s needs and wants, looking for what problems they have and trying to find solutions for these. The focus is all about helping the customer. Let’s find out what people want and get it to them. It’s the reverse of the selling model in that way. Marketing is all about producing or finding services and products that respond to consumer wants. The most important stage is research, and building a relationship with a customer base.

A video for marketing would come earlier on in the customer purchase process, and right after buying too.

In this video Simon Sinek shows how Apple cracked their marketing. What’s important is why we do something. Concentrating on what’s in it for the customer, rather than the product itself.

Simon Sinek – Start With Why – TED Talk Short Edited

Marketing is about helping people

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

Helping other people to get what they want, in order for you to get what you want is essentially the core of marketing. If you have understood your customers needs correctly, they will feel that what you are offering is worth more to them than holding on to the money that it will cost. The focus is not on how much money you can make, but on how much value you can make. Find a solution to a problem that consumers are telling you about and position it in such a way that they feel that they are better off with the product or service than with the money it cost.

Animated video can be used to explain useful information to people, to teach people about an aspect of what you do that is really useful for them, and will help them with what they are doing. Maybe to teach people how to do something for themselves. Maybe by fully explaining the potential problem’s people might face, pre-warning them to do something before it becomes a problem.

As customers become more experienced buyers, businesses must rethink their strategies. Instead of our focus being on our product, service or what we think people need, our focus should really be on what problems people have, what they want and how we can help with that. On a very practical level, we need to find people who are in sufficient pain to want to pay for a solution, and have the means to pay for it.  

Selling is about helping people spend their money in the way they want to
Selling is about helping people spend their money in the way they want to

Selling is about helping people spend money

Some people love to spend their money. It’s “burning a hole in my pocket” is a phrase often associated with money by certain types of people. People do need a reason to spend their money, and if it’s not spent with you it will be spent elsewhere. This is a premise behind selling, reframing the product to fit the values of the customer, to make them want to buy it. However as we all spend money in line with our values, marketing will help you understand the customers values so that you can find the right kind of products for each customer base that you identify. Then they will be ready to buy.

Paul O’Mahony observes in his book ‘Rethink Social Media’ that people rarely buy what they need, and that they tend to buy what they want. For example you need to eat healthy food, but you want chocolate, want tends to win out over need. People also spend in line with their values, so they will say that they “can’t afford” a product or service that they definitely need, but then will happily spend the same money or more on a holiday or something they want that fits their current values. So good marketing would accept people’s values, and find what they actually want, not what they say they need or what you think they need as the solution to their problem.

Selling videos need to be in line with the values of the customer. They need to be a good representation of the pain that the customer feels. They need to offer the solution that works for that customer.

Become a valuable resource

Building Value First

Marketing is essentially about building value for people. Become an invaluable resource, give until people rely on you. Then they will help you.

Social media is a great platform for giving lots of small snippets of animated content to help people understand your content, and become an invaluable resource. Animation is a great way to explain complex ideas, or make boring facts interesting and fun.

In this video Gary Vaynerchuk looks at how to use social media as a marketing strategy, part of the thank you economy, give, give, give and then you can sell. Build relationships based on value first. The Future of Social Media Marketing w/ Gary Vaynerchuk

What do people always want?

It may be said that all people are looking for Health, Wealth, Happiness, and Connection too. So if you can find a way of helping people with these needs, you will always have customers. Most of what we offer our customers will be helping them in one of these areas. Take a Vet for example, you might think they don’t fit this pattern. Well they do, they help with our happiness and our connection, by helping our pets that provide this to us. How does what you currently offer help people with these fundamental needs?

Animation can add a layer of subtlety to your message, it can imply your offer of Health, Wealth, Happiness, and Connection. Use of imagery is a way of giving a subtext toy our message, so that you can imply something without sounding too crude about it. “We make you happy” won’t do much for your audience, but a smiling child cuddling a dog with it’s foot in a bandage, with a mum looking very relieved, will get that message across accurately, behind some more useful text such as “open 24/7”. The audience will feel that happiness.

Products or services with a large how to element are also a profitable way of helping people to improve their Health, Wealth, Happiness and Connectivity. Businesses may eventually outsource the activity they have learnt about, but in these cases they know why they are outsourcing and don’t resent the cost. They have tried it, and understand the skill, knowledge and hours involved. How to and education empowers people to make progress were they were stuck before, and there are many levels of help that people need.

What do people really want?
What do people really want?


So selling and marketing are related, but they cover different parts of the customer purchase process. The way animation is used will reflect what is needed in the different parts of the process.

Start with marketing. You always have to start with marketing. Selling happens when you have developed a good audience, and a proportion of this audience will want to buy what you offer.

It’s a bit like farming verses hunting. If you hunt, then there is a finite amount of animals to catch. But if you farm, then you can have as much as you can grow. Also growing takes time. Preparing the soil, sowing the seeds, nurturing them, letting them grow. Takes a while before harvest, but it goes much further.

Marketing is nurturing an orchard
Marketing is nurturing an orchard

If you have anything to add to this article, please leave your comments below.

Thank you.

Lucy Lee


  1. This is a very interesting article.  I have never really thought about there being a difference between selling and marketing.  I just always assumed they were the same.  After reading this, it is apparent they are not.

    I am currently developing some content that I hoped to translate into a video or animated presentation.  My key takeaway is that I need to first market to my audience, then concentrate on selling to them.

    Thanks again!

    • Thank you Terry, I think at the start most people don’t know that there is a difference, and that’s the power of good marketing, we are not aware of it! In fact we feel empowered that we are not being sold to. It’s only when we start a business that we start to become fully aware of how it all works. I think it put’s you in a better position to market first and sell after. Thank you for the comment Terry.

  2. Thank you for sharing this article.

    It’s so informative. I am very happy I realize that there’s a difference between selling and marketing. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I also appreciate you for putting as a  example farming and hunting. Sowing seeds really gives you more harvest in the future.

    All the best!

    • Thank you Hanna, glad you like the analogy! Yes lets keep sowing seeds and nurturing them. Eventually they will sprout and bear fruit! Thank you for the comment Hanna.

  3. Hi Lucy, 

    Thanks for the great article, I am a marketing professional and I found this article helpful. I especially loved the farming/hunting analogy. Very clever!

    Can you please share a link to where animation can enhance the marketing message of a product or call to action? I would love to see animation in action!

    Thank you


    • Thank you for the comment Imran, I am very glad that as a marketing professional you agree with the points in the article! I would also like to thank you for asking for more information on how animation can be used to enhance each of these stages. You are right we need examples. I will be writing this as another article, so bear with me and I will add this. Thank you once again for the suggestion.

  4. You created a very informative post on the Selling phase and the Marketing phase.  You article is laid out well and well written.  Basically, your article says that we, as business owners, need to find out what kind of problem our customer has and we need to solve their problem, whether it be goods or services.  

    I agree with you that animation such as videos will and is playing an important role in getting customers to the purchasing stage.  You have done a great job outlining and discussing selling and marketing.  

    Two of my college courses where in Marketing and I believe your were to the point and you explained it well.  Basically, it is business owners who have to have the right Psychology in order to find out the customer’s problem and then solve it for them.  With this you will have a customer for life. 

    • Thank you Danny, yes there is a big shift away from having an idea and imposing it on others, thinking your product is great and then trying to make people buy it. Having a business is all about listening to people in your niche, understanding what they need and finding a solution for them. I found that some of my clients who wanted an animated marketing video hadn’t thought much about what the video needs to be doing, because they hadn’t thought much about the purchasing process, the difference between selling and marketing and where in that process the video needed to do its work. I decided that it would be a useful resource to cover in the section on making animation for marketing. That said it gives me great pleasure that you have also studied this and agree with the points in the article. Thank you for leaving the comment to confirm this. 

  5. I’ve learned a valuable lesson today, Lucy.  If I’m going to be a successful online entrepreneur “Why” is going to have to be important.  There is just no getting around it.

    I have two websites. Neither of them is doing anything except taking up space at the moment.  the reason is that I have forgotten the “Why”.

    Oh, I had a “Why”  But it was the wrong “Why”.  The “Why” I had was about me and my wife.  Oh, it was about helping others but I think the initial “Why” was about me and when I didn’t see the results I was looking for I have just sat back.

    Now I don’t know if I can resurrect the first one because that is the one I have ignored the most in an effort to make the second one work.  But the same thing has happened there as well.

    The TED talk video has helped me to see a different picture and now it is time to change “Me” to “Them”.

    I will probably have to work harder now to get the sites rolling again but now that I see the difference I am determined to do better.

    Thanks for this post. You have given me a fresh start.


    • Great Wayne! So glad to have been of service! Now I feel that my “Why” is working too! Yes TED talks are super inspiring, so glad that it helped you too, because it totally changed the way I saw things when I first watched it! Good luck with getting your sites rolling again, thank you for leaving a comment to let me know that this post has been helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *