In the summer of 1969, with less technology than what exists in the device you’ll use to share today’s social media tidbits, human beings flew to the moon.
We’re so desensitized to the fact of the matter, that the impossibility of the idea in the 1960’s, not to mention the price that would be paid, is lost on us.
This post is about today — not history — but imagine it for a minute. They flew to the moon!
Before that, there were two brothers at Kitty Hawk who believed something could be built that would enable human beings to fly. Then there were those who chased the speed of sound. And, oh yeah, those early astronauts who willingly climbed into little more than a tin can to test the bounds of earth.
Along the way there were tangents, miscalculations and tragedies, to be sure. But even in the face of unthinkable loss, the impossible pursuits were not deterred.
It’s Not The Size Of The Stage
I’m a sucker for the drama and scope of these pursuits. If you are of a certain age, the afternoon of July 20, 1969 is likely one of those times that is etched in your memory. In mass we were mesmerized by grainy images from a stage 239,000 miles away.
But let’s talk about where we are today.
Every single day, everyday women, men and children pursue what can feel every bit as impossible as a moon-shot.
From educating a child in our current environment to righting unspeakable wrongs…from surviving a pandemic to wrestling with depression for one more hour…from keeping the lights on to feeding those with nothing to eat and no lights to go home to…these days it can feel like 2020 ushered in an endless list of impossibles..
It Isn’t What It Is
You name the challenge (or opportunity) — progress begins with imagining what might be.
Nothing stops progress more quickly than resolving that there is no solution…no answer…no better way…no way to heal…that what we have is what we’re stuck with.
If we can envision what might be, we can begin a productive journey. We can begin to have better conversations.
But Mark it down — we will never progress beyond what we are able to imagine.
When President Kennedy spoke of putting a man on the moon, he reasoned “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”.
No matter where we find ourselves on this day, whatever the venue, if we are able to imagine what might be possible, we have a benchmark for “the best of our energies.”
Years ago I worked with a Managing Partner who regularly referred to the Marketing Department of his law firm as the PR Department. I’m certain it was a habit rooted in the days when law firm marketing efforts centered on work that was public relations in nature.
Though I believe he knew the marketing group’s responsibilities covered a broader terrain, the habitual use of the wrong label both perpetuated and was emblematic of a narrow view of the discipline.
Today many professional service firms do something similar — saying marketing when what they really mean is sales.
Or perhaps more to the point — expecting (or hoping) that marketing efforts designed to create visibility and awarenessmight be able accomplish the lead generation and one-on-one work required to land new clients.
You know this. But in case we need to underscore the point — marketing and strategic business development (sales) are not the same thing.
Confuse them, attempt to blur the distinctions in hopes that one will cover for a lack of focus on the other, or ignore either, and be prepared to be completely unhappy with the sum total of your investment.
I need to inject two relevant notes here.
First — I do my part on a daily basis to spread the problem. The very title of this Blog — Marketing Brain Fodder— suggests that everything we discuss here falls under the marketing banner. This is not true. An audit would probably reveal that the majority of content for at least a decade has focused on business development / sales. So I’m guilty…and I’m considering appropriate options.
Second — I believe the siloed-nature of our organizations works against us…diminishing the value of resources, inhibiting creativity and strangling innovation. Turf wars and resource battles consume too much time and energy. Underscoring the distinction between sales and marketing can easily be twisted to be an argument for more defined silos. While the topic for a separate post, we should underscore that this is not a case for more defined departments, teams or silos.
Hit Resume — Here’s The Point
If this is just a labeling issue, that is one thing. Anyone working in the legal space for 15 years or more knows of the problematic nature of the “Sales” word. Again — a topic for another post.
For now, if while we’re using marketing as the umbrella, we all understand that when it comes to the pursuit of new business in the professional service arena, sales is a different animal, then we might debate the value in saying what we mean.
On the other hand, where we’re not clear about the difference, we run the risk of inadequate planning, misappropriation of resources, faulty expectations, and poor ROI in both marketing and sales.
Understand The Difference
If you’re part of a leadership team, prior to judgements as to whether your marketing efforts are effective, be certain you’re not looking for target identification, lead generation and qualified pitch opportunities. These are the purview of a strategic approach to sales (or, if you’re squeamish over the label, business development). An increase in sales requires appropriate investment.
If you’re in marketing or sales, clearly articulate the difference. Great marketing is an asset, to be sure. But perpetuating confusion between the two serves the objective of neither. Marketing is not the same as sales.