The Selling Concept

The selling concept holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, won’t buy enough of the organization’s products. It is practiced most aggressively with unsought goods—goods buyers don’t normally think of buying, such as insurance and cemetery plots—and when firms with overcapacity aim to sell what they make rather than make what the market wants. Marketing based on hard selling is risky. It assumes customers coaxed into buying a product not only won’t return or bad-mouth it or complain to consumer organizations but might even buy it again.

The Marketing Concept

The marketing concept emerged in the mid-1950s as a customer-centered, sense-and-respond philosophy. The job is to find not the right customers for your products, but the right products for your customers. The marketing concept holds that the key to achieving organizational goals is being more effective than competitors in creating, delivering, and communicating superior customer value to your target markets. Harvard’s Theodore Levitt drew a perceptive contrast between the selling and marketing concepts:22

Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.

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