Marketing for Sales or Brand Building: Experts Weigh In

Small businesses can often have trouble prioritizing when it comes to marketing. With a limited budget, time, and resources, it can be difficult to know where and how to focus marketing efforts.

Base simple CRM and sales tracking

To help you sort through it all, we’ve reached out to a panel of marketing and small business experts and asked them all a single question: “Should marketing be more about sales or brand building for small businesses?

Below is a collection of their thoughts and perspectives:

Mari Smith

Marketing should be about building and nurturing relationships. “Move the free line,” give your best stuff away, add value at every opportunity, be accessible regardless of people’s influence and you’ll naturally build a large, loyal following that wants to do business with you. Yes, at the same time, it’s important to be strategic and focused about your branding and positioning and to know when to include calls to action and ask for the sale. But, my motto for many years has been “Relationships first, business second.”
Mari Smith is a passionate social media speaker, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Follow Mari on Twitter @MariSmith.

Jill Konrath

Small businesses need to focus on sales. They need revenue in the door — and they need it now if they’re going to survive. While branding is nice, it does not pay the bills. And, savvy small businesses will seriously pursue sales opportunities with bigger accounts. Seriously. Landing one decent size client can move a small business out of survival mode and into growth mode. Then, they look at doing branding.
Jill Konrath is a recognized sales strategist, speaker and author who offers fresh strategies and practical advice for selling to today’s crazy-busy prospects. Both her books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies are Top 20 sales books on Amazon.

Aaron Wall

I don’t think brand or sales is an either/or game (because you need some level of brand to be able to charge premium non-commodity rates). At the same time, it is very easy to chalk everything up to brand & then sort of never really have it back out. Brand building is a higher level business function. You need sales and interactions to fund the business & those interactions help shape the brand perception (and build word of mouth).

The thing about online is the friction of the penny gap…if you make something accessible for free & it is good lots of people will see it and use it. From that exposure some people will want to pay for more.

Aaron Wall is an SEO expert and the founder of SEOBook, a site offers marketing tips, search analysis, online business tips, and general commentary on the evolution of the web from an algorithmic, publishing & business model perspective.

Paul Gillin

Small businesses should be sales-driven. The big companies have the luxury and budget to worry about their brand. Focus on the stuff that’s going to keep you in business, which is selling.
Paul Gillin is the author of three books about social media marketing, including the recently published Social Marketing to the Business Customer.

Paul Colligan

Effective marketing is systems that automatically deliver ideal prospects, predictably and dependably, to you. Sales is what you do when those prospects arrive at your store, order form, etc. First marketing, then sales. If you make the marketing about the sale, it’s not effective. Brand building is one method of marketing – but not necessarily an ideal one.
Paul Colligan helps busy people leverage new media to get their message out to more people, with less effort, and for greater profit. He is CEO of, Education Czar for Traffic Geyser Inc., and Executive Producer for

Beth Goldstein

Sales and branding are closely connected since part of developing a brand value to customers is often through direct sales channels like one-on-one outreach with customers. Your brand position must be completely aligned and in sync with how you communicate your benefits to your customers. Therefore, in building your sales efforts you must be concurrently building your brand presence and ensuring you continue to meet customer needs, currently and as they evolve.
Beth Goldstein is an author, educator at Boston University and founder of Marketing Edge Consulting Group. Beth has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs to successfully grow their companies. Her new book is “Lucky By Design“.

Toby Bloomberg

At the end of the day it is of course about the sweet ring of the cash register. How we get to the sale becomes more complex daily. With the influence of the digital world and as Brian Solias calls it, the connected customer, sales, marketing, branding, PR, customer care merges and blurs. We can no longer build our companies based on a silo mentality. Without an integrated plan that creates a seamless customer experience (online and offline) those sales bells will be few and far between.
Toby Bloomberg consults, speaks and trains on how to combine social media with branding, marketing and other customer touch points to build relationships.  Her blog Diva Marketing is a Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media.  She is the author of Social Media Marketing GPS. Connect with her on @tobydiva.

Tamar Weinberg

It depends on your goals. Usually, it’s both.
Tamar Weinberg is a social media enthusiast with a passion for all things tech and productivity. She provides consulting in internet marketing and manages Community Support & Advertising at Mashable. Tamar is also the author of The New Community Rules

Joe Pulizzi

I don’t think it’s one or the other…SMB’s need both and there are certain activities that do both. A business shouldn’t only focus on one aspect of the buying cycle.
Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute, Junta42, Content Marketing World and Chief Content Officer magazine. Joe is also CEO of SocialTract, and co-author of the book Get Content Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand.


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